Posts Tagged ‘cartoonist’

A Robert Redford Story

September 28, 2018
It’s 2010. I’m nearing completion of a movie called Old School New School, my personal study on creativity. In the movie, I travel the United States meeting with world-class artists to discover the nature of creativity, how they found their voice, and how they define success.  The cast was a veritable collection of Who’s Who: Emmy-winning actor Brian Cox, Grammy Award winner and jazz great McCoy Tyner, and Tony Award winner Emanuel Azenberg among many more outstanding world stage notables.

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

Director of Photography Chris Cassidy, Director Steven Fischer, internationally acclaimed dancer Kirstie Simson, Camera Operator Phil Rosensteel shooting Old School New School, New York City, 2009.

 

June. I attend the annual summit of Americans for the Arts at the Marriott Waterfront in Baltimore, Maryland. To celebrate its 50th anniversary of advocating arts education, AftA engaged Robert Redford as a keynote speaker. He presents during Friday’s two-hour lunch break in the hotel’s large ballroom. Mr. Redford speaks about 15 minutes then exits the stage. Being such a significant arts advocate, and with such a stellar career in the arts, I knew he would make an ideal on-camera subject for Old School New School. I also figure he’s leaving the hotel and that this would be my only chance to invite him to be part of the movie. I slip out of the ballroom and wander the adjoining corridors, figuring I’d run into him eventually.
I was right.
I turn a corner and see him! He’s seated with his back to me in private conference with an AftA executive. Seeing two people in conversation, my instinct was to hesitate — but a spirited initiative pushes me forward. I approach and say to the executive, “Excuse me. I hate to interrupt…”
The executive’s response? A silent, livid stare.
Adrenaline is racing through my body. What have a just done? I’ve broken into a private meeting. I know my intrusion is inappropriate. I know this is not the preferred way to open discussion with an A-list movie star, but I also know that I have a responsibility to this movie. (And I figure if anyone would be sympathetic to the struggles of the small, indie movie producer, it would be Robert Redford.)
My legs feel like jelly, but I find the resolve and continue. “May I just have a couple minutes? I’d like to ask Mr. Redford a question.”
A muscular security guard steps in. “Sir, you can’t be here,” he says firmly. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
“Just two minutes?” I plead; “two minutes?” The executive stares with a look that says she’s ready to strangle me, but to his credit Mr. Redford holds out his hand as if to halt the security guard and says in a calm voice, “It’s alright. Let him speak.”
At this invitation I lock eyes with Mr. Redford, introduce myself, and tell him about Old School New School. I rattle off the list of subjects we’ve already photographed and on hearing the name John Bailey, Mr. Redford’s eye brows raise. (John Bailey was Redford’s Director of Photography on Ordinary People.) I hand him some printed Old School New School material and my card. “I’d love for you to appear on camera in the movie,” I say. “Give me a call and we’ll set it up.”
He took my information and carefully placed it in his shirt pocket saying he would check out the website.
His participation in the movie didn’t materialize, but he gave me a wonderful gift that day: the example he set responding to an interloper. Mr. Redford was a true gentleman. He engaged me, offered his full attention, and was gracious with the time. Thank you for that, Mr. Redford, for the example of how to be. I’ve used it as a guide ever since.

Old School New School was released the following year through Snag Films, and the touching appreciation for a movie that digs beneath the surface in search of understanding the nature of creativity has been overwhelming! I’m posting some of the responses below.

You can watch Old School New School for free: http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/old_school_new_school

Producer Steven Fischer at Paramount Studios in 2009 during the production of Old School New School.

 

Just finished watching [Old School New School] for the first time (it won’t be the last time I assure you). Thanks for making an important film for all of us involved with creative work…

Joe I., Winnipeg, Canada

 

Steven, I am watching your documentary and learning so much from it. Thank for sharing this with me.

Larry M., Boston, MA

 

A fascinating movie about the creative potential we all possess! Enjoy and learn!

Dr. Robert M., Australia

 

Wonderful! Steven Fischer’s movie is a must-view. An extraordinary, inspirational distillation of artists’ wisdom and insight, with nothing getting in the way. If you want a daily warmup, this is it!

Howard E., United Kingdom

 

Steven, [Old School New School] was outstanding, and such a tribute for anyone doubting their own dreams for success, especially in the arts. It is one I will watch more than just once. I felt as though it was made for me…the midwestern working mom of 4 boys with a passion for writing and a dream of bringing my words to the next level. Someone like myself doesn’t really know where to begin. But, I’ll keep working at it and investigating what I need to do to see the words “based on a book by Donna Marie” someday. Thanks so much for sharing such an inspiring documentary.

Donna M., Chicago, IL

 

I watch your film Old School New School at least once a day. It fires my creative synapses. I want to thank you for the film. 

Jermaine T., Kansas City, MO

 

Steven….I just watched your film…I love this…the heart…the soul of the piece is evident..
every artist WILL want to see this….not simply for motivation but there lies within the film, a sense of wonder…or passion that is not always present in other examination works….thank you for the good dreams…..

Michael S., Washington, DC

 

A very insightful and well made short documentary. Well worth half an hour of anyone’s time, not just those interested in creative arts.

Gareth C., UK

 

I thought [Old School New School] was very inspirational. For anyone working or striving to work in the arts i think you’ll really enjoy it. You may find it just as inspirational no matter what career or field you are in. Nice job Steven,  

Paul H., Portland, OR

 

Thank you, Steven, for the insights presented in your film. Excellent questions! I love it when people put into a piece of work, things that I have asked myself. It’s validating. “I am not alone.” I loved one line from Ben Jones,…”what, and act in his head?”, when talking about a creative taking a “secure” job. Lol! This is helping me reevaluate my own path and choices. Thank you! Also, it was great meeting you in Three Oaks, Mi. Well worth the journey! Blessings!

Meghan D., Chicago, IL

 

Pretty cool movie. I love Kirstie Simson’s big green eyes. Intense person. Nice tour-de-force of some heady thought…should be watched with Linklater’s “Waking Life”…matter of fact, you should animate this film. ok, ok just an idea…thanks.

Robin M., Pleasant Hill, CA 

 

Great! Steven Fischer, you ROCK! So simple, yet so profound! Thanks for this inspiring documentary!

Christina, Denver, CO

 

Steven: Well done, and thank you for sharing! Your doc is actually a great “tool” for those considering a “life in the arts”, and for those already in pursuit of that life, with some good, honest “inspirational messages”. We enjoyed it, and will pass along to those in our circle, and beyond.

Tracey A., Hearst Corporation

 

I just watched “Old School New School”. I appreciate very much the honesty, heart, wisdom and confidence in being vulnerable the project and subjects share about their “success”, process and experiences as artists and humans-being… Thanks for your work and your gift Steven :-))).
peace+blessings,

Larry C., Corpus Christi, TX

 

Steven, GREAT film. I wish it had been twice as long. Always fascinating to hear the deep thoughts of creative people. I’m on such a journey myself; one of the breakthroughs for me was to realize that I have to have an honest, true REASON for what I do.  What is so compelling about your film is that it’s one honest way (of many) to dig those reasons out of hiding.

Thanks again and look forward to more work from you.

Scott R.

 

I enjoyed the film. I really loved seeing my friend and mentor Billy Fraker.He was a master! He taught me a lot.

Darla R.

 

[Old School New School] is a great film, Steven! I can feel it in my gut when I’m veering away from what my soul wants. This film was an awesome reminders for us creative types who sometimes get bogged down by the “should do’s” in life to keep going, follow your bliss and do what nature intended for you to do. Very nice work. Shared this one!

Jennifer W.

 

I just watched your documentary and I really enjoyed it. Very nice work. You’re asking some tough questions and the responses were really fascinating.

Ryon B., Columbia, MD

 

Wow! Just finished watching it. GREAT interviews!! This is a special piece. Watch it and share it. All of the interviews were amazing! You did a super job of getting carefully thought out and deeply held ideas from all of these tremendously successful and creative people. Thanks so much, Steve!

Les O.

 

I am so glad you made [Old School New School], this topic is something that I spend many hours debating and obsessing over in my head. Thank-you for making this!

 Angela B.

 

The interviews are insightful and the whole idea behind this documentary is noteworthy. I have heard a great deal of lectures on “how to be successful” or “what define being successful” but something as specific as being successful in the “art” I rarely heard, and I’m glad it is brought up. Great film.

Ze 

 

Fantastic film—handles questions I have thought about e.g what is success.

paul 

 

[Old School New School] is very unique and so true to life! It is real and tells it how it is.
Thanks for a creative and excellent film.

 Jani B.

 

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Call Me Giant

November 17, 2017

Join us January 25, 2018 at Northwestern University’s Norris Center for an intense acting and character creation experience! Click here for details and sign up.

 

Director Steven Fischer leads actors through exercises for Call Me Giant, part of an actor’s intensive character creation experience at McCormick Auditorium, Evanston, Illinois. Photo by Jeff Sweeton.

 

Director Steven Fischer leads acting exercises at McCormick Auditorium in Evanston, Illinois, as part of an actor’s intensive character creation experience. Photo by Jeff Sweeton.

 

Film director, cartoonist Steven Fischer guides actors at McCormick Auditorium in Evanston, Illinois part of an actor’s intensive character creation experience. Photo by Susan Zielinski.

Closing Night, Chicago International Children’s Film Festival

November 6, 2017

Jenny Zumarraga, Analia Chavez, Jury Chair Steven Fischer, Amy Stern at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, closing night ceremony, November 5, 2017.

Cartoon Illustrations for DiamondMind Enterprises

October 28, 2017

L-R: Tom Rosenak at DiamondMind Enterprises works with cartoonist Steven Fischer on drawings for “Acres of Diamonds”.

 

L-R: Tom Rosenak at DiamondMind Enterprises works with cartoonist Steven Fischer on drawings for “Acres of Diamonds”. October 2017.

Cartoon Classes Galore!

March 3, 2017

Learn the art of cartoon storytelling at The Second City, that famed Chicago comedy Alma Mater of Bill Murray, John Candy, Gilda Radner, Chris Farley, Harold Ramis and so many other brilliant, comedic minds.

Each course explores story breakdown, character development, page layout, the creative process, 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 these courses!

Sign up for:

Steven Fischer’s Intro to Cartoon Storytelling (for adults!)

Wednesdays, April 5-26, 2017 — 3-hour sessions starting at 7pm

 

The Wonderful, Happy, Cartoony Workshop (for ages 14-18)

Workshop: Saturday, April 15, 2017 (2-hours)

Four-session Class version:  Saturday, April 22-23 and 29-30, 2017 (2-hour sessions)

“Steve & Bluey” by Steven Fischer. Copyright 2014 Steven Fischer.

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

 

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

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

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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

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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

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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

 

Filmmaker Has Animated Presence in the Arts

August 4, 2008
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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.

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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.

By THERESA WINSLOW Staff Writer

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.
Read more at http://www.redorbit.com/news/entertainment/1509620/local_filmmaker_has_animated_presence_in_the_arts/#s37pgGIgOCv2vJvO.99