Cartoon Class at Second City, begins April 5!

February 22, 2017

Many thanks to The Second City, Chicago, for offering Introduction to Cartoon Storytelling — 4 weeks of intense cartooning starting April 5. Get those pencils ready and sign up here.

Details:

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!3 hours, 4 weeks starting April 5, 2017.

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_second-city-workshop_chicago_april-20_2016_photos-by-alicia-haywood_4

Cartoonist and animation filmmaker Steven Fischer presents Cartoon Storytelling at The Second City in Chicago. Photo by Alicia Haywood.

Two Fascinating Voices

February 8, 2017

The Chicago Creative Coalition has long been an important haven for creative people in all disciplines, from graphic arts to photography, design, animation and beyond. This article from their Summer 2014 magazine highlights an example of the varied educational programming they offer members.

A big thank you to TJ Hine, George Berlin, Stephen Starr, and C3 members for including me numerous times in their quest to enrich and inspire each other.

steven_fischer_chicago_creative_coalition

steven_fischer_filmmaker_director_writer_cartoonist_chicago_baltimore_new-york

Film director-producer and cartoonist Steven Fischer talks creativity at Chicago Creative Coalition, 2014.

Old School New School on Film Monthly

February 8, 2017

Old School New School review at filmmonthly.com

herman-leonard-diane-davison-steven-fischer-at-opening-of-jazz-at-lincoln-center-nyc-oct-2009_photo-by-rick-edwards

Photographer Herman Leonard, attorney Diane Davison, film director Steven Fischer at opening of Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York City, October 2009. Photo by Rick Edwards.

steven_fischer_kathleen_monroe_Baltimore_Maryland

Director Steven Fischer with his cousin, Kathleen Monroe, Baltimore, Maryland.

Old School, New School

by Caress Thirus

We open on a common scene – a slightly flustered journalist making small talk with his interviewee as he prepares to ask his questions. Old School, New School is a documentary that follows Steven Fischer as he explores the different paths people take to develop their creative fingerprint, aka, their “voice”. A lot of people forget that documentaries are still films. Though they are informational, they’re meant for entertainment. There’s a sense of practical humor to this entire film, and key aspects are held from the audience so as to keep their interest. The first two minutes are sure to stir up a swirl of questions that Fisher and its interviewees answer during the film. “What is your voice, and how do you find it?” It’s a common question that anyone in an art-related career has asked themselves, time and time again. Though commonly asked, the answer is never straightforward. For some, the answer is simple; for others, not so much. This documentary compares and contrasts the answers given by different people in different careers, from dancers to cinematographers to musicians. The film is opinionated, but full of good opinions that are supported with logical reasoning. This is a film about voice, after all. How inappropriate would it be not to have an opinion or two? The entire documentary has a very honest feel to it; it’s realistic rather than rigged. Unfortunately, this causes it to drag in areas, but it always seems to pick back up. This movie is definitely in need of a soundtrack (and perhaps a more relevant title). It’s basic; there’s nothing unusual, and with all of the artistic people who were interviewed, it is upsetting to learn that none of their work is showcased in the film. Old School, New School sort of feels as if the filmmaker didn’t want to cut any of his interviews, and he left too many [unnecessary] clips in the film, making it too long. Still, the film feels organized and planned enough for the audience to keep watching. The viewer feels as if he or she is actually in the room with Fisher and the various people he interviews. It’s easy to get pulled into the stories they tell. In the end, the infamous question still stands. How does one go about defining their personal voice? Perhaps musician McCoy Tyner put it most simply when he said, “You found something you liked to do. It’s a matter of developing by doing it.”

Most information is derived from IMDB’s daily news, the Chicago dailies (Tribune and Sun Times), Entertainment Weekly, MSN.com, various sources as listed, and by just paying attention.

Caress Thirus is a student at Roosevelt University and a film enthusiast.

E-mail us at filmmonthly@gmail.com

Old School New School review on Snaptwig

February 8, 2017

A blast from the past — Snaptwig review of Old School New School, a study on creativity. Quite thorough. If anyone knows the author, please let me know!

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

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

Old School, New School: The inspiring documentary by film-maker Steven Fischer

Steven Fischer’s recent documentary, Old School, New School is a triumphant view of how artists fuel their creativity and drive to bring their creative inspirations to fruition, and the challenges involved. The film brings to the light what inspirations professionals have, and provides vindication for current creative professionals in that their thinking is universal. The documentary provides a resounding echo of all of the shared thoughts of artists from around the world which creates a sense of community. The film accomplishes this through bringing together experts in all genres of art and entertainment in interviews about their perception of inspiration, drive to succeed in the arts, and the challenges involved.

The interviews in the film include Emmy winning actor Brian Cox, Tony award winning producer, Emanuel Azenberg, Oscar nominated cinematographer William Fraker, Grammy winning jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, accomplished actor Tomas Arana, renowned cinematographer John Bailey, accomplished actor Ben Jones, acclaimed theater director and actor Sam McCready, distinguished poet James Ragan, and award winning improvisational dancer Kirstie Simson.

Steven Fischer, the director, writer, and producer of Old School, New School, credits the many conversations with friends and colleagues over the years, as well as the 1974 documentary, “Place de la Republique” by Louis Malle for the inspiration to make the documentary. Fischer explains the inspiration, “I was so interested in that concept, that idea of a movie that is driven by a running conversation. I’d like to try that, to make a movie that’s just one running conversation. That’s a challenge for me. You combine that with at the same time doing these experiments, recording these conversations about creativity, about the arts. It all gets mixed together, and evolves into what became Old School New School.”

Finding the people willing to be interviewed for the documentary was another challenge to overcome for Fischer. True to form, he never gave up and followed every opportunity to find the wonderful artists who appear in the film and readily give their insight, and advice for artists in every medium on creativity, the creative process, and drive to follow through with one’s dreams.

One such opportunity came while premiering his animated documentary, Freedom Dance with Mariska Hargitay, which was shown at a festival in Washington D.C. in 2008. Fischer met a woman from Kodak of New York, and her interest in his idea for Old School, New School so inspired her that she introduced Fischer to Lisa Muldowney from a Los Angeles PR firm. This introduction led to assistance in finding artists and film makers willing to participate in the project.

Of the challenging experience of finding the willing professionals Fischer explains his drive and inspiration, “I have no idea how these things happen, but I think part of it has to do with the bravery and courage to go after something, and to get the wheels in motion, and to start producing your project. By going through the motion, and by generating activity, I think then somehow activity begets more activity, and things start to happen…, but there’s such serendipity in that, and that I would never dare to guess how that happens, but I wish that there was a way to provoke it. I think I’ve found that for me there are three aspects to this. One is to know what you want. Two is to have a plan. And three is to trust your instincts. I find repeatedly, when I follow that, for me, things seem to – well, I guess quote unquote, luck seems to happen, and obviously it’s not luck. (Of finding the professionals to be interviewed) It is the result of a lot of effort, and being prepared, and just being tenacious.”

Tenacious would be an understatement of a description for this experienced producer and director. Persistent, inspiring, and driven are better adjectives to describe Steven Fischer; all of which are necessary to be successful the entertainment industry. Journalist, Tracy Saville, comments on Fischer in her April 16, 2012 article about Old School, New School, “His search for the essential truths, driven only by a passion to advance his own knowledge and understanding is why old school ideas like what it takes to be powerfully creative in today’s world stand the test of time.” (www.thepossibilityplace.com, 2012)

Fischer’s long time friend and lawyer, Diane Davison, assisted him in finding the talented professionals to be interviewed and became a producer for the film. Davison commends Fischer, “He (Fischer) is an amazingly multi-faceted artist in every sense of the word: art, animation, music, film. I don’t know if he dances too, but that would definitely not surprise me! Add talent, vision, tenacity and business acumen to that and you have someone who has successfully created Art with a capital “A” since of a young age.”

James Ragan, who was interviewed for the film, relays his impressions of working with Fischer on the film, “His ease in interviewing in front of the camera made the entire documentary a conversation rather than an academic thesis. It’s clear by the responses he received from each person interviewed that he’s genuinely interested in their careers and is a master at drawing out the anecdote that best defines his subject and their personalities.”

Chris Cassidy, one of the cinematographers who worked on the film, shares his involvement, “I think the documentary Old School, New School is really important. People want to know about ‘the process’ of where creativity comes from. Hearing from all these fantastic people makes the film an important and educational lesson. The project was very exciting to work on. Each subject had different things to say, and different approaches. Not only was it an exciting job, but I learned a lot too. That doesn’t always happen on a shoot.”

Fischer’s longtime friend, camera operator, and collaborator, Gregg Landry says,”Old School, New School is, I think, the perfect reflection of where Steven is with his artistry today. He has achieved a high level of achievement in the creative world but humbly seeks more insight, more knowledge, more wisdom. Old School, New School educates the audience in a very dynamic way.”

Fischer’s long time friend, colleague, and mentor Steven Melendez explains his involvement with the project, “I have known Steven since he was in high school in London, and we have become firm friends. Old School, New School is a very interesting film for me. Steven spent a number of years quizzing me about how I go about making a film,… One thing I think that Steven learned from making the film, is that one has to trust oneself, and believe in what you are trying to say, and then develop the skills to excite others to come on board your ship”.

The theme of this incredible documentary seems to resonate through all those involved and all those who view it, ‘Believe in yourself and what you have to say, seek out opportunities to perfect your craft and perform your craft, and define success for yourself.’ The documentary is currently used as an inspirational teaching tool at universities across the U.S., and can also be viewed on www.snagfilms.com

3 Essential Habits to Increase Creativity

January 24, 2017

Many thanks to Diane Bobis and Peter Hansen at Winnetka Living for inviting me to pen this article on creativity.

stevenfischer_winnetka-living_jan2017

Thanks also to Tom Rosenak at DiamondMind Enterprises for making it all happen!

And watch some creativity VIDEO links here:

Defeat Writer’s Block

You Are Creative!

 

Protected: Indigo – The ancient high hills tribes of Asia and their uncertain relationship with the future.

January 5, 2017

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

January 3, 2017

Just discovered some blasts from my music days. Apparently, Youtube is automatically generating channels.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSJ1RoMZXkGoBkdUQ3fVS6g

My Promise (incorrectly titled as The Promise) and Better Days were original songs I wrote and contributed to a compilation CD published by the Baltimore Songwriter’s Association years ago.

Jenny’s Song was written by Adam Book. Adam hired me to sing the lead. The song appears on his CD, In These Verses.

mixing-board_steven-fischer-1996

Steven Fischer at Unlimited Realms Recording Studio, Pasadena, in 1996.

 

Cartoons at Second City! Yay!

November 30, 2016

Thank you, Second City, for once again offering Steven Fischer’s guide to Creating Cartoon Stories.

3_steven_fischer_cartoonis_creativity_filmmaker_director_second_city_chicago_september-2016_tom_rosenak_winnie_wu

Sign up here!

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.

3 hours

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.

Steven Fischer_second city workshop_chicago_april 20_2016_photos by alicia haywood_15

Video Editing, Acting, and Cartoons at Northwestern University!

November 30, 2016

Between January and February 2017 Steven Fischer will present a video editing class, an acting class, and a cartoon storytelling workshop at Northwestern University’s Norris Center. Join the fun!

Digital Video Editing

6:00-7:30, Mondays, January 23 – February 27

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

Steven_Fischer_Acting and Character_Northwestern University

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

6:00-7:30PM, Thursdays, January 19 – February 23

Fee: $81 NU/ $91 Public

This interactive course is an introduction to acting, taught by a two-time Emmy nominated instructor 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.

Introduction to Cartoon Storytelling

Steven Fischer_second city workshop_chicago_april 20_2016_photos by alicia haywood_5

Steven Fischer’s popular Cartoon Storytelling workshop. Photo by Alicia Haywood.

Tuesday, February 7, 6:00-9:00PM

Fee: $30

Learn the art of cartoon storytelling, effective communication techniques, and develop personal expression. This workshop will touch upon story breakdown, character development, page layout, and studies from life. Students will begin to create an original story. No previous drawing experience required – if you can create a stick figure, you can succeed!

Freedom Dance at Fulbright Hungary’s 1956 Celebration

October 22, 2016

A big thank you to Karoly Jokay, Fulbright Hungary, and The Consulate General of Hungary in Chicago for including Freedom Dance (our movie with Mariska Hargitay retelling Ed and Judy Hilbert’s escape from Communist Hungary to the US during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution) in Hungary 1956 – Chicago 2016: A Day of Remembrance and Hope.

It was a honor to participate in the commemoration and a treat to meet fellow Fulbright alum!

karoly_jokay_steven_fischer_fulbright_loyola_chicago_october_21_2016

Fulbright Hungary Director Karoly Jokay and film director Steven Fischer at 1956 Hungarian Revolution commemoration and Fulbright alum celebration, Chicago, Illinois. October 21, 2016.

steven_fischer_fulbright_event_chicago_loyola_october_21-2016

Film director Steven Fischer introduces his movie Freedom Dance featuring Golden Globe winner Mariska Hargitay at the 1956 Hungarian Revolution commemoration and Fulbright alum celebration, Chicago, Illinois. October 21, 2016.

fulbirght_alum_fulbright_event_chicago_loyola_october_21-2016

Fulbright alum at the 1956 Hungarian Revolution commemoration and Fulbright alum celebration, Chicago, Illinois. October 21, 2016.

steven_fischer_ambassador_ferenc_szebenyi_fulbright_event_chicago_loyola_october_21-2016

Film producer-director Steven Thomas Fischer with Ambassador Ferenc Szebenyi, Consul General of Hungary, at the 1956 Hungarian Revolution commemoration and Fulbright alum celebration, Chicago, Illinois. October 21, 2016.

fd_postcard