Posts Tagged ‘filmmaker’

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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!

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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Steven Fischer talks about Old School New School on Toginet Radio

August 1, 2010

Recorded live on July 30, 2010. Click to Listen. Old School New School director Steven Fischer talks about his new movie, creativity in America, and working as an independent filmmaker with host Dara Blaker.

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