Archive for August, 2008

Maya Angelou and umbc

August 29, 2008

Heard from the office of Maya Angelou. Encouraging words to contact Ms. Angelou’s literary agent. I cealled. They’re out for the holiday weekend. I’ll call Tuesday.

Meanwhile, getting a plan of action ready for pending UMBC meeting. I want to go into it fully prepared knowing what I want from them and with a clear vision of the final product — in this case Old School’s opening title sequence and website.

Meanwhile, I think it’s time to get the rougu cut of Sam McCready to Henninger for color correction (was going to wait til next year when I had more cash, saving as much as I can now for L.A., but discovered I have a lot more than originally thought … :0)


August 28, 2008

Sent off letter to UMBC on Tuesday or Monday. heard from President Hrabowski today! Hope to have meeting scheduled soon. Looking for some support for Old School, New School from my alma mater. :0)

The Red Shoes

August 26, 2008

Watched “The Red Shoes” just because I’d never seen it  before and a cinematographer friend raved — rightly so — about the photography. Moira Shearer  gave a great performance!

my heroes

August 25, 2008

Got a lot done with letters — some more out to potential subjects — big fish, too – Hrabowski, Ken Burns, Frederick Wiseman, Ross McElwee, finally tracked down and a bunch of request s to Greater Talent in NYC ,,, many big fish there. I’m especialyl excited about Wiseman and McElwee, my heroes from film school.

Watched De Sica’s Bicycle Thief again today. Such a depressing yet powerful work. Always makes me feel such pity for those people struggling as they did, trying for basic survival. Makes me all the more thankful for what I have today. Such inspirational storytelling, too. Makes you want to pick up a camera and go for it!

prep for shoot

August 13, 2008

dinner with dad at a new Japanese restaurant.

Colected/scanned some old production photos for .. they  needed it for b-roll in my upcoming interview. Lots of memories going through those old photos.

Got letter to agents of potential subjects completed about 11pm. Will mail priority tomorrow. Gotta get things ready for the shoot in Los Angeles — the next recordings for Old School, New School! Had another telephone meeting with a DP there, continuing to find the  right ones for this job.

Independent Film Channel

August 11, 2008

Letter off to IFC in Canada re: Old School, New School.

breathless and the essentials

August 10, 2008

Even though tonight was a writing session, I did get work done on designing the Old School New School website, plus some calls to potential DPs in Los Angeles.

I constantly remind myself to define the purpose of each scene, and how it can advance the story, what does it reveal about character, and how does it help define the overall themes (keeping the fundamentals sharp is essential!).

Watched the extras on my 2 disc set of Breathless … old interviews with Jean Seberg and Godard, plus some of the crew — always an enjoyable education


August 6, 2008

Follow up w CCS about some PR and potential subjects. Call with NFAA about potential sponsors. Lots of research on people (potential subjects) and companies (potential sponsors). Nice chat with filmmaker friend John Chester who’s doing very well in Los Angeles. We reminisced about our days in Baltimore hanging out in cafes and having intellectual conversations about art. Special times. :0)

He was the DP on Silence of Falling Leaves. “Our first Emmy nomination!” I recalled with a pleasant smile. What do you remember most about that production, he asked? “You, me, and your dog Flash out in the woods shooting a movie.”

John laughed. “That’s right! I brought Flash. He was in so many productions. He worked more than some humans I know.”

Watched Finian’s Rainbow. Coppola in his youth. :0)

Filmmaker Has Animated Presence in the Arts

August 4, 2008

Filmmaker Steven Fischer in Spotsylvania, Virginia, April 2007, during production of his Emmy-nominated Civil War drama Now & Forever Yours: Letters to an Old Soldier. Photo by Jim Choate.


Producer-director Steven Fischer at Paramount Pictures, Hollywood, California (2007) while working on the film Old School New School with Brian Cox and McCoy Tyner.

From The Capital, Annapolis, Maryland. August 4, 2008.


The bookcases in Steven Fischer’s Annapolis home are a virtual smorgasbord of the humanities.

There are volumes on luminaries such as Leonardo da Vinci and the Bronte sisters, tomes about silent film stars Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, a biography of movie director Francis Ford Coppola and a series of books on the Civil War. He even has a book on Albert Einstein, for good measure, and that’s just a smattering of his reading material.Mr. Fischer is a man of eclectic tastes, but there’s a common theme that runs throughout his library and his life – the quest to better understand all aspects of the human condition.

The 36-year-old first delved into this arena through cartooning, creating the characters Steve and Bluey, and now pursues the subject by making films. Just last year, he finished four movies, including the short Civil War docudrama “Now & Forever Yours: Letters to an Old Soldier,” and the animated documentary of an Hungarian artist who fled Communist Hungary called “Freedom Dance.” The film, which he worked on with Baltimore resident Craig Herron, was narrated by Mariska Hargitay of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

“I just think Steven is a brilliant young man who will go far, I hope,” said Judy Hilbert of Baltimore, whose late husband Edward was the focus of “Freedom Dance.””He’s very knowledgeable in whatever he’s doing.”

Mr. Fischer has garnered two Emmy nominations for his work, and won a host of other honors. His varied resume also includes “The Silence of Falling Leaves,” which is about the massacre of Polish POWs in 1940, a short documentary of Francis Scott Key, several music videos, commercials and promotional videos.

“I’m interested in everything,” Mr. Fischer said. “That’s a good thing in being a storyteller. You have to be excited by many things.”

Mr. Fischer’s latest project is “Old School, New School,” a documentary featuring in-depth interviews with noted figures in the arts that explores the nature of creativity. The subjects include poet James Ragan, producer and animator Bill Melendez (of “Peanuts” TV specials fame), and Irish playwright and professor Sam McCready.

Mr. Fischer hopes to have the documentary finished by sometime in 2009 and his hope is that by recording the insights of highly- accomplished people, their core values won’t be lost and the next generation of artists will have a valuable resource to draw on.

One of Mr. Fischer’s friends, Mike Zampi of Severna Park, said the filmmaker often discusses the “masters” that inspire him. But Mr. Zampi considers Mr. Fischer a “master himself – just undiscovered.”

Mr. Zampi is a recording engineer and musician who has worked with Mr. Fischer on many projects. “I wish there were more people in the world like him,” the musician said. “He cares deeply about what he does and he likes to be a positive influence in people’s lives.”

Mr. Melendez’s son, Steve, who has been a mentor of sorts to Mr. Fischer, added that the filmmaker’s work is constantly improving and he soaks up new information like a “sponge.”

“I enjoy him and I like his ideas,” said the younger Mr. Melendez, who followed in his father’s footsteps and resides in London. “He has an original approach to things He’s very tenacious.”

Career in focus

Mr. Fischer could always draw and began working on “Steve and Bluey” while still in high school.

“By the time I went out in the world, I really had the mind set that since I’d been creating stories since childhood, I was veteran,” he said.

Although he still carries around a sketchbook, Mr. Fischer’s primary focus is film. He transitioned fairly seamlessly from one to the other, studying movie-making at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

While the two mediums appear vastly different on the surface, Mr. Fischer said cartooning taught him a lot about characterization and how to work with actors to get the best possible work on camera.

“As an animator, you are the actor,” he said. “You have to understand motivation, performance and timing.”

In addition, animators, by their very nature, have to have an eye for detail, and that trait comes through in Mr. Fischer’s films, said Gregg Landry, owner of the Baltimore-based video company BlueRock Productions.

They’ve worked on a few projects together, and Mr. Landry said he’s always been impressed with Mr. Fischer’s work ethic and enthusiasm.

“He has an incredible attention to detail,” Mr. Landry said, “as well as a real passion for whatever subject matter he’s doing. It’s a pleasure to work with him and he’s not afraid to put in the homework to make a project outstanding.”

The term “homework” is especially apt, since Mr. Fischer definitely brings his work home with him. In fact, it’s hard for him to step away at all, admitting he’d probably be at it 24/7 if he could.

“I go and go until I crash,” he said. “But it never feels like work. Every part of (filmmaking) is my favorite part.”

Currently, Mr. Fischer is augmenting his own projects with a job by producing videos and documentaries at a Columbia think tank, so sleep is most definitely at a premium.

“What I want to do most is tell the stories I want to tell the way I want to tell them,” he said. “It’s not about being in the spotlight. It’s your opportunity to communicate to the public (and) to the community what’s important to you as an artist. That, to me, is a privilege.

(c) 2008 Capital (Annapolis). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

int’l festivals and lots of other stuff

August 4, 2008

aug 4 

Prepping for INt’l Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tenn.  It’s in Ocotber. Looking at the scheduled storytellers , there were two who instantly struck my interest and upon further investigation found one to be connected to a large int’l storytelling center in the UK. That led to some exciting discoveries which I’ll follow up on in the days to come.

Yesterday chatted with my cousin Anne-Marie who is a VP at one of the banks here in Baltimore.. Seeing what the options are for sponsorship there. Zoltan Feher at the Embassy of Hungary is checking with some contacts of his. The goal is to get sponsorship for this next trip to Los Angeles.


need to call CCS (the PR firm introducing me to some top cinematographers as on-camera subjects) back to  arrange meeting. hoping to get estimate for cost of service.


Watched “Les Destinee” and “Saints & Soldiers”.


Exhausted now. veyr late. going to bed. yawn.