Posts Tagged ‘animation’

Steven Fischer: A talented and award winning documentary film-maker

February 28, 2017

From Snaptwig, January 29, 2013

Steven Fischer, the talented writer, director, and producer, was raised in Maryland and abroad. Fischer has directed dozens professional documentaries, films, shorts, and television projects independently as well as for clients such as PBS, Nextel, and AmeriCorps. As a young child he had an intense love for cartoons, which stayed with him into his teens. Around the age of seventeen years old, Fischer began creating cartoons for the local paper in the town where he lived. This opened doors for him, and he began to freelance creating cartoons and illustrations for other writers. In his late teens, he began pitching children’s book ideas and comic strip book ideas to publishers. After many rejections, he decided to take measures into his own hands, and self publish his first children’s book, There’s a Blue Dog Under My Bed.

Fischer learned to not only publish his own book, but also marketing and distribution. The struggles and lessons he learned he credits with his outlook and drive to continue to develop as an artist, musician and film maker. He attended the London Cartoon Centre in London, England in order to further develop as an artist and cartoonist. He cultivated many inspiring friendships and mentors there, and counts Steve Melendez and his father Bill Melendez as his long time mentors and friends. After returning to the U.S., Fischer found himself drawn to the medium of film through freelance work for AmeriCorps and other clients. He completed his first documentary in 1996, and realized another passion, documentary film making.

“I went with it because it was coming to me, and it doesn’t really matter to me what I’m producing. If it’s a documentary, if it’s fiction, if it’s a radio drama, if it’s television, if it’s cinema; the only thing I’ve ever been interested in is telling a good story, and … I believe every story has its own medium that it is most effectively told through; some stories work better as a song, others are more effective as a theater play, others are more effective for cinema. I enjoy all of the mediums. My role in all of this is to tell a very good story, a compelling story with meaningful characters, a story that has something to say. ”, explains Fischer.

Fischer’s contagious enthusiasm continued to fuel his creativity, and many awards followed. In 2000, he was nominated for his first Emmy for Silence of Falling Leaves, a Polish language tribute to Polish POWs murdered in the Katyn Forest Massacre. Written and Directed by Steven Fischer; Cinematography by John Chester; Read by Bozena Jedrzejczak, and produced for TCI Communications.

In 2007, Fischer earned a second Emmy nomination for Now and Forever Yours: Letters to an Old Soldier. The film dramatizes the little known and scandalous story of a Union officer’s love affair with a Southern belle in Fairfax, Virginia, during the American Civil War. Fischer directed the movie for NVCC-TV and photographed it under his oft-used pseudonym Gordon O. Douglass. His cinematography was nominated for an Emmy Award. It stars Katie Tschida and Winston Shearin with music by Damion Wolfe.

In 2008, Fischer, along with his animation partner Craig Herron, won the CINE Masters Series Award for Freedom Dance. In the animated film, Fischer directed the very talented Mariska Hargitay. Ms. Hargitay narrated the film. The producers explain the film, “Freedom Dance documents four months in the lives of artist Edward Hilbert and his wife, Judy, four months as refugees defiantly leaving Communist Hungary during the violent 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Along the way, Edward kept a journal in cartoon form detailing a trip defined by adventure. Our movie, attempts to re-tell the Hilberts’ eventful escape by inter-cutting original character-driven animation with recorded interviews and photographs”

Fischer attended the CINE awards ceremony in Washington D.C. This award proved to be serendipitous for his next project, Old School, New School, in the creation of new professional relationships and what would prove to be long-time personal friendships.

Continuing with the positive momentum which has garnered Fischer eight Telly Awards as of this writing, Fischer made the decision to pursue his documentary Old School, New School. The fascinating project collects recorded conversations with world class artists including noted actor Brian Cox, Grammy-winning pianist McCoy Tyner, and legendary cinematographer William Fraker on the nature of creativity. The documentary is currently used as an inspirational teaching tool for artists in every medium around the U.S.

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

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 The Embassy of Hungary

October 13, 2016

A very special thank you to Ambassador Reka Szemerkenyi, Cultural Attache David Singer and everyone at The Embassy of Hungary in Washington, DC, for including Freedom Dance in the Embassy’s 60th Anniversary Commemoration of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.

For those who don’t know, Freedom Dance is an animated documentary that retells the adventure of a young couple, Edward and Judy Hilbert, escaping Hungary during the ’56 Revolution. Along the way, Edward kept a journal in cartoon form detailing their dramatic journey (which includes being robbed and nearly killed). The movie features Golden Globe winner Mariska Hargitay and is produced by Steven Fischer and Craig Herron.

Order your copy of DVD click here: http://www.freedomdancethemovie.com

 

ambassador-reka-szemerkenyi_steven-fischer_october-2016

Ambassador Reka Szemerkenyi and film director Steven Fischer at The Embassy of Hungary, Washington, DC, October 2016.

david_singer_steven_fischer_embassy_of_hungary_freedom_dance_october_2016_1956

Cultural Attache Singer David and film director Steven Fischer at The Embassy of Hungary, Washington, DC, October 2016.

steven_fischer_david_singer_embassy_of_hungary_freedom_dance_october_2016_1956_2

Director Steven Fischer speaks at the Festival of Film & Culture celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight. (Hosted by the Embassy of Hungary in Washington, DC.) October 12, 2016

steven_fischer_david_singer_embassy_of_hungary_freedom_dance_october_2016_1956

Director Steven Fischer (left) and Cultural Attache Singer David (right) speak at the Festival of Film & Culture celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight. (Hosted by the Embassy of Hungary in Washington, DC.) October 12, 2016

diane_davison_steven_fischer_gregg_landry_craig_herron_barbara_herron_embassy_of_hungary_freedom_dance_october_2016_1956-jpg

Some of the Freedom Dance team. L-R: Diane Leigh Davison, Steven Fischer, Gregg Landry, Craig Herron, Barbara Herron

steven_fischer_david_singer_embassy_of_hungary_freedom_dance_october_2016_1956_3  steven_fischer_david_singer_embassy_of_hungary_freedom_dance_october_2016_1956_washington-dc-3

 

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.

Steve and Bluey Colorado Tour

June 2, 2015

On Monday, June 22, 2015 the University of Colorado, Denver, hosts the LYNX National Media & Arts Camp. I will attend as a Guest Artist working with animation students and presenting a workshop on creativity and character development, referencing stories from my own experience creating The Wonderful, Happy, Cartoony World of Steve & Bluey.

The tour continues that week with appearances and workshops at Colorado Free University on June 23 and Arapahoe Community College on June 24.

Of course, copies of The Wonderful, Happy, Cartoony World of Steve & Bluey will be on sale, but you can also conveniently order a copy by clicking here!

If you’re in the Denver area and can join the fun, please do!

Steven Fischer speaks about creativity and character creation at LYNX National Arts & Media Camp_University of Colorado_Denver_June 2015_photo by Dave Walter

Steven Fischer speaks about creativity and character creation at LYNX National Arts & Media Camp, University of Colorado, Denver. June 2015. Photo by Dave Walter.

 

Steven Fischer works with animation students at University of Colorado, Denver, June 2015.

Steven Fischer works with animation students at University of Colorado, Denver. June 2015.