Documentary Short Film Review “Old School, New School”

September 5, 2017

Review by Kirk S. Fernwood

4 Sept 2017

Film director Steven Fischer (left) with the legendary cinematographer William Fraker on location in Hollywood for Old School New School, 2008. (photo Scott Uhlfelder)

WATCH THE FILM HERE

First, the Recap:

It’s the digital age, and anyone and everyone is able to share their talents (or “talents”) with the world at large, opening themselves up to scrutiny, even putting out material of professional quality appearance–even though they aren’t really professional, perhaps, in connecting with an audience via true artistic integrity. So, therefore, what exactly is it that makes for, well, “making it” in the realms of stage and screen? For 2-time Emmy nominated independent filmmaker Steven Fischer, this was the burning question he himself had been struggling with for some time, with no immediate answers to be found.

However, he then embarked on a journey across the United States on a quest to find those elusive truths found within three distinct aspects of what it means to be grounded in the arts: finding your voice, security vs. risk, and the definition of success. As he engaged some of the wide-ranging entertainment industry’s most consummate, revered, and skilled artists in their respected fields of expertise, the notions shared, the personal level of insights presented, and the sometimes deceptively simple wisdom gained very much embodies the very heart of what it means to find exactly what was being sought.

Next, my Mind:

In what this reviewer would deem a perfect amalgamation of what it means to be a part of the independent film community while also delivering a pure, insightful, and fascinating look into the greater entertainment industry machine via some its veteran luminaries, writer/director/co-producer/editor Fischer’s 33-minute documentary short hits a home run on multiple levels. Thanks to the very up close, personalized nature of the interviews here, it makes the viewer one hundred percent experience the world through these artisans’ words as they share their own revelations about what it is to find success while also making it clear that everyone truly needs to find their own path.

Emphasizing concepts like not deviating from being who you are, knowing what risks to take vs. taking none at all or playing it too safe, having a willingness to push yourself, taking constructive criticism, being a person of honesty with yourself and others, realizing there doesn’t have to be suffering for your art to be successful, and asking yourself if you’ve found happiness, fulfillment, or reached your full potential, it very much should resonate deeply with anyone striving to walk that path to what they desire to do, even outside of the industries presented here. It’s an actuality, a personal endeavor, to aim for the goals you have and do it with passion and hard work, all while knowing with confidence what your talent is, developing it by being hand’s on, and accepting no shortcuts. It’s affecting and so real.

The “cast” Fischer provides us for this journey is nothing short of extraordinary. Included are renowned cinematographers like 6-time Oscar nominee William Fraker and John Bailey, 4-time Grammy winner and John Coltrane Quartet jazz legend McCoy Tyner, 134-time Tony nominated/41-time winning stage producer Emanuel Azenberg, 50-year theater teacher and performer Sam McCready, whose former students included names like Branagh, Neeson, and Boyle, poet James Ragan whose work has been translated into 12 European and Asian languages while also having read for 5 heads of state, Carnegie Hall, and the U.N., Kirstie Simson, a worldwide name in new dance instruction, as well as actors Ben Jones, Brian Cox, and Tomas Arana, all of whom stand out for their prolific deeds either on or off screen.

In total, with its completely relatable, down-to-earth vibe, fluid pacing, totally engaging interviews, and wealth of knowledge offered to any and all who have dreams of pursuing careers in the entertainment industry or other paths, “Old School, New School” is a must-see documentary effort that especially resonated with this reviewer and the goals I have been aiming for. It’s motivation, challenge, and steadfast encouragement found here, something we could all use more of in this hectic situation we call life.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!

L-R: Fred Weil, Steven Fischer, Brian Cox, Chris Cassidy shooting Old School New School, New York City, June 2010.

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Video Editing and Acting classes by an Emmy nominated filmmaker

August 29, 2017

Digital Video Editing (6 weeks)

Instructor: Steven Fischer

Click here to sign up!

  • Mondays, 6:00-7:30 PM, October 9 – November 13
  • Fee: $101 NU/$111 Public

Learn the basics of video editing from a two-time Emmy-nominated filmmaker! This course introduces students to the role of the editor as storyteller, the history of cinema editing, and the fundamentals of editing in effective communication. This course involves hands-on Premiere Pro work. You’ll be editing a lot!

 

Acting and Character Creation (6 weeks)

Instructor: Steven Fischer

Click here to sign up!

  • Thursdays, 6:00-7:30 PM, October 19 – November 30*
  • Fee: $81 NU/ $91 Public

This interactive course is an introduction to acting, taught by a two-time Emmy nominated filmmaker in film and television! 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. *Please note, this course will not meet on November 23.

Steven Fischer leads actors through improvisation games at Northwestern University’s Acting for Character Creation (Norris Mini Courses).

Steven Fischer leads actors through scene reads at Northwestern University’s Acting for Character Creation (Norris Mini Courses).

Cartoon Storytelling at The Second City, Chicago!

August 24, 2017

Learn the art of cartoon storytelling, effective communication techniques, and develop personal expression. This course explores story breakdown, character development, page layout, and studies from life. Students will create original characters and an original story based on personal experiences. No previous drawing experience required—if you can create a stick figure, you can succeed in this course!

We’ll meet once a week, four weeks, three hour sessions.

Chicago Term 5 2017 (Aug 30 – Sep 20)

Sign up here.

About the instructor: Steven Fischer is a two-time Emmy nominated filmmaker and cartoonist. His credits include the Steve & Bluey cartoon series, the acclaimed animated documentary Freedom Dance (2007) with Mariska Hargitay, and Old School New School (2011) a personal study on creativity with celebrated actor Brian Cox and jazz legend McCoy Tyner among many other internationally acclaimed artists. Steven’s commissioned work includes projects for Maryland Public Television/PBS, TV Asia, Nextel, Bill Melendez Productions, and Screen Arts Animation.

Steven is a Fulbright recipient and sought internationally to speak on creativity.

Steven Fischer presents his Introduction to Cartoon Storytelling class at The Second City. Photo: Alicia Haywood.

Try Your Hand at Cartooning at Waubonsee Community College

August 24, 2017

The Cartoon workshop is back!

Try Your Hand at Cartooning With an Emmy Nominated Filmmaker

Waubonsee Community College,
Sugar Grove Campus
Saturday, Sep 9, 2017

No drawing experience is necessary for this unique creativity workshop with the multi-talented Steven Fischer. Develop your original, personal story through drawing and generate ideas using a range of writing and drawing exercises. Along the way, explore the philosophy and psychology of inspiration, cartoon art, creativity and storytelling.

Sign up here!

Tickets are $29. A copy of Steven’s book The Wonderful, Happy, Cartoony World of Steve & Bluey is included.

 

Steven Fischer is a two-time Emmy nominated writer/producer/director/cartoonist/author and Fulbright recipient whose credits include film and commissioned work for PBS, DuPont, Martin Scorsese, Mariska Hargitay and others.

 

 

Score And Song Interview w/Director Steven Fischer

August 23, 2017

Many thanks to Damion Wolfe Siford for including me on his radio program, Score & Song-Music in Film & Media, WERA-FM, Arlington, Virginia (Sunday, August 20, 2017). It was a pleasure talking about all aspects of a cinema score. I learned a lot and had fun. Thanks, Damion!

“The Promise” and “Better Days”

August 22, 2017

The Promise” is written and performed by Steven Fischer. Copyright 2002, 2017 Steven Fischer. The song (which Fischer titled “My Promise”), was published by Baltimore Songwriter’s Association in 2002 on the CD “Songs From Our Circle, Too” incorrectly titled as “The Promise”. This recording is engineered by Michael Zampi at The Note Factory. Contact Steven at oldschooldocumentary@yahoo.com or http://www.stevenfischer.net

 

Better Days is written and performed by Steven Fischer. Copyright 2002, 2017 Steven Fischer. The song was published by Baltimore Songwriter’s Association in 2003 on the CD “Songs From Our Circle 3”. This recording is engineered by Michael Zampi at The Note Factory. Contact Steven at oldschooldocumentary@yahoo.com or http://www.stevenfischer.net

 

 

Cartooning for Adults at The Second City!

July 14, 2017

Bring your story ideas to life in cartoons. We’ll explore the creative process, cartoon drawing fundamentals, character development, and more! In-class writing and drawing exercises help you discover new possibilities in developing and expressing your ideas and point of view. These exercises help you generate the ideas for your own original, personal story. No experience necessary. If you can make a stick figure, you can get started!

Participants will receive a copy of Steven’s book The Wonderful, Happy, Cartoony World of Steve & Bluey.

Creating Cartoon Stories meets for one three-hour session. Sign up today!

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, 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.

Cartoons that Heal – A Lecture by Two-time Emmy nominated filmmaker and cartoonist Steven Fischer

April 8, 2017

Freedom Dance and cartoons at University of Florida!

https://ces.ufl.edu/event/cartoons-that-heal-a-lecture-by-two-time-emmy-nominated-filmmaker-and-cartoonist-steven-fischer/

Dreams of the Settlers: An American Journey – Along the Shores of the Great Lakes

March 22, 2017

To my friends in Europe — check ARTE TV listings for Traumrouten der USA: Entlang der Grossen Seen (aka Dreams of the Settlers: An American Journey – Along the Shores of the Great Lakes)

Eine spektakuläre Entdeckungsreise, fotografiert aus der Luft, realisiert als Road Movie, zu Land und zu Wasser, mit dem Auto und mit dem Boot. Eine atemberaubende Reise durch außergewöhnliche Landschaften und zu außergewöhnlichen Menschen.

Partial team list:

Germany: Michael Trabitzsch, Dagmara Konsek, Michaela Brzezinka, Prounen Film Berlin

United States: Steven Fischer

The Sixth Sense of Animals

March 22, 2017

Der Sechste Sinn der Tiere is now on Terra X, ZDF Germany!

Naturkatastrophen bedrohen die Menschheit, und die Vorwarnzeiten sind meist zu kurz. Jetzt haben Wissenschaftler die Idee: Tiere sollen uns dabei helfen, frühzeitig Naturkatastrophen zu erkennen.

Click here to watch on ZDF!

Partial team list:

Germany: Ralf Blasius, Susanne Blech,  K22 Film & Entertainment

United States: Steven Fischer