Cartoon Storytelling Is Back at Second City

July 1, 2016

Join me for a full Cartoon Storytelling class at the famed Second City, Chicago Starts Tuesday, July 5.

Bring your story ideas to life in cartoon format, no experience necessary. In Cartoon Storytelling you will explore narrative, character development and format. In-class writing and drawing exercises help you discover new possibilities in expressing your ideas and point of view. You’ll try your hand at several formats (comic book, comic strip, single panel) as you build your own original personal story in cartoon form. If you can make a stick figure, you can get started!

3 hours, 6 weeks

About the instructor: Steven Fischer is a two-time Emmy® nominated writer/producer/digital cinematographer of fiction, non-fiction, and animated stories. His credits include the films Freedom Dance (2007) featuring Mariska Hargitay and Old School New School (2010) with Brian Cox. His commissioned work includes Martin Scorsese’s NEH Jefferson Lecture and Keep the Promise with Margaret Cho and Tavis Smiley among various films for Maryland Public Television/PBS, Romanian Television Network, TV Asia, Nextel, DuPont, Nalco/Ecolabs, Department of Defense, AmeriCorps, Hollywood Stars II, and National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts.

Fischer is a Fulbright recipient and speaks internationally on storytelling.

Click here to sign up!

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Draw! Draw! Draw! Steven Fischer presents Cartoon Storytelling at The Second City, Chicago, 2016. Photo by Alicia Haywood.

 

Cartoon Storytelling comes back to Second City!

May 23, 2016

I am proud to announce that Second City, famed school of comedy, home to John Candy, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and many more comedy legends, is offering my Cartoon Storytelling class starting this July.

Sign up, sharpen your pencils, and join the fun!

Details:

Bring your story ideas to life in cartoon format, no experience necessary. Explore narrative, character development and format. In-class writing and drawing exercises help you discover new possibilities in expressing your ideas and point of view. You’ll try your hand at several formats (comic book, comic strip, single panel) as you build your own original personal story in cartoon form. If you can make a stick figure, you can get started!

Tuesday nights,  JULY 5 – AUGUST 9, 2016 ….. 7pm – 10pm

About the instructor: Steven Fischer is a two-time Emmy® nominated writer/producer/digital cinematographer of fiction, non-fiction, and animated stories. His credits include the films Freedom Dance (2007) featuring Mariska Hargitay and Old School New School (2010) with Brian Cox. His commissioned work includes Martin Scorsese’s NEH Jefferson Lecture, Keep the Promise with Margaret Cho and Tavis Smiley, and Bill Cosby Live at The Kennedy Center among various films for Maryland Public Television/PBS, Romanian Television Network, TV Asia, Nextel, DuPont, Nalco/Ecolabs, Department of Defense, AmeriCorps, Hollywood Stars II, and National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts.

Fischer is a Fulbright recipient and speaks internationally on storytelling.

Sign up: http://www.secondcity.com/classes/chicago/cartooning-a-2d-guide-to-3d-characters-copy/

Thank you, Second City!

April 22, 2016

A big thank you to Sheena Laird, Rawson Vint and Andy Eninger at Second City Training Center for hosting Thursday’s workshop on cartoons and creativity! (In 3-hours we looked at the philosophy of creativity, worked the creative process, brought new characters to life, studied narrative structure, exercised some basic drawing fundamentals, and drew a bunch of cartoons. Whew!)

An extra big thank you to the participants! You guys were great, and I look forward to seeing the results of your creative efforts.  Thanks also for showing so much interest in my cartoon work, and in The Wonderful, Happy, Cartoony World of Steve & Blueyclick here for the details.
For those who missed the fun, keep your eyes open at Second City — there just might be a cartoon course debuting in June! (Wink, wink; nudge, nudge.)

A very special thank you to Alicia Haywood for capturing the night in photos!

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Steven Fischer presents A 2D Guide to 3D Characters at Second City, Chicago. April 20, 2016. Photo by Alicia Haywood.

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Steven Fischer presents A 2D Guide to 3D Characters at Second City, Chicago! April 2016. Photo: Alicia Haywood

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Steven Fischer works with cartoon and creativity workshop participants at Second City, Chicago. April 2016. Photo by Alicia Haywood.

Steven Fischer presents A 2D Guide to 3D Characters at Second City, Chicago! April 2016. Photo: Alicia Haywood

Steven Fischer presents A 2D Guide to 3D Characters at Second City, Chicago! April 2016. Photo: Alicia Haywood

Steven Fischer presents A 2D Guide to 3D Characters at Second City, Chicago! April 2016. Photo: Alicia Haywood

More Creativity Classes at Northwestern University!

March 30, 2016

Join us for 3 fun-filled classes at Northwestern University’s Norris Center.

Steven Fischer presents minicourses in: Digital Video Editing, Cartoon Storytelling, and Acting for Character !

Register here for Acting for Character

This course is an introduction to acting to experience how performance, movement, body, voice, etc. can be used to generate character performance ideas. The course will be used to help students create and build well-rounded characters for original stories they will produce in class. Characterization, delivery, timing, expression, motivation, body language, and posture will be studied through improvisation exercises, storytelling activities, observation studies, and by examining the work of master actors.

  • Dates/Times:
    • Thursdays: April 14 – May 19; 6:30-8:00pm
  • Location: Norris Center
  • Fee: $70 NU / $80 Public

 

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Steven Fischer works with acting students at Northwestern University. Photo by Dywaine Betts.

 

Register here for Introduction to Cartoon Storytelling

Instructor: Steven Fischer

Learn the art of cartoon storytelling, effective communication techniques, and develop personal expression. Lessons include story breakdown, character development, page layout, and studies from life. Students will create an original story. No previous drawing experience required. If you can create a stick figure, you can still be effective. This course shows  you how!

  • Dates/Times:
    • Thursdays: April 12 – May 17; 6:00-7:30pm
  • Location: Norris Center
  • Fee: $70 NU / $80 Public

 

Register here for Digital Video Editing

Instructor: Steven Fischer

Learn the basics of video editing. This course introduces students to the roll of the editor as storyteller, the history of cinema editing, and the fundamentals of editing as an effective communicator. The course includes hands-on with Premiere Pro. You’ll be editing, a lot! The course is taught by two-time Emmy nominated filmmaker Steven Fischer whose credits include Maryland Public Television/PBS, Oprah Winfrey Network, Nextel, and the films “Freedom Dance” with Mariska Hargitay and “Old School New School” with Brian Cox.

  • Dates/Times:
    • Mondays: April 13 – May 18; 7:00-9:00pm
  • Fee: $100 NU / $110 Public

Back at Second City for Cartoons and Character Creation

March 30, 2016

Join Steven Fischer’s 2D Guide to Creating 3D Characters at Second City, Chicago!

Create original characters and personal stories for theater, radio, TV, or literature in this unique storytelling workshop. Participants exercise the creative process to develop original characters and stories through writing and storytelling. Cartoonist and two-time Emmy Award nominated writer/producer Steven Fischer leads participants through writing and drawing exercises that help develop well-rounded characters, locations, stories, and themes. Along the way, explore the philosophy and psychology of inspiration, creativity and storytelling.

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Steven Fischer’s creativity and cartooning workshop aboard SeaDream, afloat somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. April 2014.

Steven Fischer at DC Independent Film Festival

March 6, 2016

A big thank you to Erica Ginsberg at Docs In Progress and Hannah Jayanti for inviting me to appear on a panel discussion on animation in documentaries at the DCIFF today!

Through the magic of the internet I was Skyped in from Chicago to a dais which included Oscar-nominated filmmaker Dee Hibbert-Jones (talking about her animated doc Last Day of Freedom) and Gillian Klempner Willman (talking about her animated doc The New Woman). I was there to talk about my role on Freedom Dance with Mariska Hargitay.

The panel was held at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC. Here’s my view:

steven fischer_dc independent film festival_washington dc_march 2016

 

10 Billion: What’s On Your Plate – US Premiere at Santa Barbara International Film Fest

February 12, 2016

On Thursday, February 4, we premiered 10 Billion: What’s on Your Plate? The movie, directed by Valentin Thurn of Cologne, Germany, attempts to answer the question: how will we feed the 10 billion people estimated to inhabit the earth in the year 2050.

As the only member of the production living in the  US, I was asked to represent the movie and participate in the post screening Q&A. We had an excellent turn out of about 200 attendees. That night it was the red carpet and a salute to Johnny Depp. Among those in attendance: Oprah Winfrey, Jeff Bridges, and Leonard Maltin leading the Q&A with Depp. Check out the photos on Getty Images.

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Steven Fischer with Roger Durling, Executive Director of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, at the US Premiere of 10 Billion: What’s On Your Plate.

 

 

Today! 59th Anniversary of ’56 Hungarian Revolution

October 23, 2015
Thinking of my Hungarian friends on this 59th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. It was an honor for me to lead a team that celebrated a piece of your history and the roles played by Edward and Judy Hilbert.
Freedom Dance is a multi-award winning animated documentary following a young couple’s escape from Communist Hungary amid the 1956 Hungarian Revolution (which began Oct 23). While a refugee for four months, Edward kept a journal in cartoon form detailing the adventure. Narrated by Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: SVU).  Watch a clip here.

Pixar’s 22 Rules for Storytelling

July 14, 2015

These rules from Pixar Story Artist Emma Coats were originally share by Aerogramme Studios. Number 9 on the list – When you’re stuck, make a list of what wouldn’t happen next – is a great one and can apply to writers in all genres.

  1. You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
  2. You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
  3. Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
  4. Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
  5. Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
  6. What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
  7. Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
  8. Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
  9. When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
  10. Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
  11. Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
  12. Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
  13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
  14. Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
  15. If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
  16. What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
  17. No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.
  18. You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
  19. Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
  20. Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
  21. You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
  22. What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

Acting for Directors workshop at St John’s College Film Institute, New Mexico!

July 3, 2015
Many thanks to Scott Hannan and David Carl for hosting my workshop at St. John’s College!
St John's College in beautiful Santa Fe, NM.

St John’s College in beautiful Santa Fe, NM.

Steven Fischer directing actors in Acting for Directors.

Steven Fischer directing class participants.

 

Steven Fischer presents: Acting for Directors at St. John’s College Summer Film Institute, Santa Fe, New Mexcio.
 
This interactive workshop is an introduction to acting. Animation and live action directors will experience the fundamentals of acting to generate performance ideas they can use to help bring on-screen characters to life.
 
Characterization, delivery, timing, expression, motivation, body language, and movement will be studied through a variety of storytelling and acting exercises. Participants will simultaneously use the discoveries they make during these exercises to create an original story.
 
Objective:
To understand acting and how it relates to animation and/or live action storytelling, and how these skills can be used to bring characters to life, to experience feelings and learn to trust instincts, to experience acting (body language, tone, pace, rhythm) and apply the experience to the building of believable characters.

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