Posts Tagged ‘documentary’

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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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.

I am Max

March 22, 2017

I am Max

Director: Edward Porembny

Producers: Steven Fischer, Edward Porembny, Daniel Markowicz, Olivier Gal

Fiscal Sponsor: The International Documentary Association, Los Angeles.

Charlie Chaplin was his apprentice, he was the first international star, earning fortune and being adored in France, Europe and Hollywood. And then at the peak of his career everything suddenly finished. Max Linder ended his life by the side of his adorable wife. How was it possible?

Visit I am Max on IMDb

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.

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.

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.

Honoring 5-Time Academy Award nominated cinematographer William Fraker

May 29, 2015

May 31, 2015 marks five years since the passing of cinematographer William Fraker. In his prolific Hollywood career he built a solid reputation as one of the great cameramen. His credits include Bullitt, Rosemary’s Baby, WarGames, Heaven Can Wait, 1941 and Tombstone among so many others.

One of the earliest movies I ever saw in theaters was The Legend of The Lone Ranger (1981) which Mr. Fraker directed and in which Jason Robards delivers a terrific portrayal of President U.S. Grant. The movie had a profound impact on this 8-year-old. It awakened in me a fascination with the late 19th Century American West, a subject I still hold close to heart today and receive great pleasure studying.

I had the honor and joy of knowing and working with Mr. Fraker in 2008 while making Old School New School. One day I found myself in Mr. Fraker’s Hollywood home just down the street from Paramount Pictures. My friend Lisa Muldowney, a cracker jack PR agent, had introduced us months before. Mr. Fraker was full of excitement at recently discovering some rare photos (never published, he said) documenting the then-unique rigging used to mount cameras on the cars for the famous chase scene in Bullitt. He spread the photos over the dining room table. I studied each one as Mr. Fraker reminisced about the production. The movie released in 1968, yet all those years later he still talked about capturing that legendary chase scene with a radiant glow about him, an infectious childlike enthusiasm.

And it was at that table I had the chance (and the privilege) to thank him for his version of The Lone Ranger, and tell him about the impact it had on my life.

Thanks again, Mr. Fraker. We may have only known one another a short time, but your openness and graciousness will be with me for years to come.

Click to hear William Fraker’s words of wisdom about risk taking and success in the arts.

Steven Fischer with William Fraker shooting on location in Hollywood in 2008.

Steven Fischer with William Fraker shooting on location in Hollywood in 2008.

Freedom Dance Hungarian premiere

October 14, 2014

Freedom Dance (2007, featuring Mariska Hargitay) screened publicly in Hungary for the first time Monday, October 13, 2014. The screening took place at the Center for Arts & Culture at the Central European University in Budapest. http://www.fulbright.hu/animated-documentary-director-steven-fischer-spoke-at-ceu/

Freedom Dance is an animated documentary by Steven Fischer and Craig Herron retelling the dramatic escape of Edward and Judy Hilbert from Communist Hungary to the United States amid the tumult of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. Along the way, Edward, a cartoonist, kept a journal in cartoon form detailing his adventure.

Many thanks to Dr. Jókay Károly, Executive Director of the US-Hungary Fulbright Commission in Budapest, Lilla Földy Molnár, and Katalin Parti at CEU for making the screening a reality.

Karoly-Jokay-and-Steven-Fischer-Freedom Dance-screening-Oct-13-2014

Dr. Jókay Károly, Executive Director of the US-Hungary Fulbright Commission, and writer/director Steven Fischer at the October 2014 screening of Freedom Dance in Budapest. Photo by Annamaria Sas.

Karoly-Jokay-Brigitta-Ivanyi-Bitter-Steven-Fischer-Bekes-Csaba-Freedom-Dance-screening-Oct-13-2014

(L-R) Karoly Jokay, Brigitta-Ivanyi-Bitter, Steven Fischer, Bekes Csaba. Photo by Annamaria Sas.

Freedom Dance screening in Budapest

October 3, 2014

ANIMATED HISTORY – Freedom Dance will be screening at Central European University’s Center for Arts and Culture, Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. Click here for details.

Date: October 13, 2014 – 18:00 – 19:30
Building: Nador u. 11
Room: TIGY Room
Event type: Panel Discussion
Event audience: Open to the Public
CEU host unit(s): Center for Arts and Culture (CAC)

Special thanks to Professor Tibor Glant at the University of Debrecen and Dr. Károly Jókay, Executive Director of the Hungarian-American Fulbright Commission, for making this a reality!

Also, be sure to check out Steven Fischer’s documentary on creativity, Old School New School, available at SnagFilms.com.

Old School New School Hits

July 6, 2013

Snag Films‘ First Quarter reports for 2013 are in: Old School New School received over 76,000 hits! A big THANK YOU to all of the movie’s supporters. We are so excited that people continue watching this study on creativity. Please share the SnagFilms link so others can share in learning how we can all tap into our full creative potential.

Just visit http://www.snagfilms.com, sign up, and start watching free of charge!

Thanks again for all your support and interest. It means the world to us.