Posts Tagged ‘hollywood’

Fusion International Film Festivals Interview with Steven Fischer

August 16, 2019

Thank you, Dan Hickford and The Fusion International Film Festivals, for the honor of being the inaugural subject of The Green Room!

As part of our ever growing platform of content we wanted to add a new dimension, whereby we explore professionals within the industry from across the world that may not be able to join us at our festivals but still have a wonderful story to tell.

First up is one of our newest Jury Members Steven Fischer.  Festival Co-Director Dan Hickford is asking the questions!

DAN HICKFORD: Steven you are certainly a man of many talents but it all had to start somewhere! Your career began at 17…but when did you first pick up a pencil and begin drawing?
STEVEN FISCHER: Thank you. I created my first cartoon book at age 6 or 7. It was a take-off on the Peanuts characters. Age 6, 7 (laughs). You can imagine what it looks like: typing paper sandwiched between cardboard covers. Stapled. I still have it.

DH: And did you know from that moment what your path might be?
SF: Not consciously at first, but cartoons were a constant my whole childhood. I took solace in cartooning after a hard day at school dealing with all the bullies. And it’s where I would go simply for the joy of having a fanciful adventure. I remember at 17 a realization took over, the realization that the routine of school was ending and that I might actually have to do something with my life. That, combined with my dissatisfaction with what I saw as society’s poor values and mixed up priorities, compelled me to want to contribute to something uplifting. And with that I gravitated to my strengths and interests which was cartoons.

DH: As a film festival we get to see so many different types of films with many being documentaries! You’re own project, ‘Old School New School,’ was very personal to you. How do you feel about it when you look back now, did you get the truth and honesty you were looking for?
SF: I think we did. Like many people, I would talk about big ideas with friends over coffee. I always thought it would be great to record those private conversations which were so real and honest. One of the main challenges of the movie was to see if I could make a conversation-driven movie with no b-roll interesting. I wanted the discussion in the spotlight. It’s challenging enough to make a movie that keeps an audience engaged, now I’m throwing into the mix an intellectual discourse with no visual flash and glitter. It was tough.

DH: What inspired you?
SF: I was inspired by Louis Malle’s Place de la Republique and Jon Fauer’s courageous and beautifully photographed Cinematographer Style which is also an interview-only movie. We intentionally used a minimal crew at each location, sometimes just three of us. The DPs (Chris Cassidy, Phil Rosensteel, and Scott Uhlfelder) were challenged to use only available light. We used no production lights except on my in-studio hosted segments. No make up. No boom mike. And in most cases no tripods. We aimed to be as unobtrusive as possible in efforts to capture the most real and honest conversation. Of course we know that’s impossible. You know you’re being recorded, you know this is a movie, you know it will be public. You’ll never capture a subject completely unguarded. But still, we set the conditions as best we could so the subjects could be uninhibited, and I think we captured some essential truths.

DH: Do you think you’d get the same response today?
SF: I think so. Sure. Maybe even more. Is it too naïve to say that society is more conditioned to cameras out and recording? How many young people today are, in a sense, growing up on-camera? I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. But I’ll tell you one thing, to this day I still hear from people thanking me for Old School New School. And the most common response is: “This is just what I needed and wasn’t getting.” People want to talk about big ideas. Why are we here? Who am I? How can I tap into my full potential? And they’re just not getting it. And I think it’s because way too many of us live on the surface of life and never take the effort to search for understanding. That’s why I make movies. That’s why I tell stories, to search for understanding.

DH: Talk to us about Steve & Bluey?
SF: They’re doing great! They’ve been my life for my entire life. The first published production was their comic strip in 1990, but I’ve been writing Steve & Bluey stories since 1981.

DH: How do you describe them?
SF: Steve and Bluey are a modern day comedy team and they educate through entertainment, you know? Not educate in a formal sense, but through example… by celebrating the child within and using their life as cartoon entertainers to reflect on who we are and why people do what they do. It goes back to me at age 17, dissatisfied with society’s priorities and wondering why the class bully had to be so cruel.

We have a strong connection to London, as you know. In the 1990s we lived there and were guided by producer Steve Melendez at Melendez Films, back then on Gresse Street. We spent 12 years searching for a commission for a fully animated TV series, and I am forever grateful to the Melendez family for their generosity and support serving as co-producer of the effort. There were a few close calls, but we never got the big commission; however, in the U.S., Phillip Guthrie at TCI Communications of Baltimore accepted the show in 1996 and we produced a series of animatics which ran as interstitials for three years on TCI TV. A really good introduction to Steve & Bluey is the book The Wonderful, Happy, Cartoony World of Steve & Bluey, because the book take us with such intimacy into their professional and private lives.

DH: You promoted that book with an amazing World tour, didn’t you?
SF: The 2014 re-release we did. The original was released in 2001, 2002. But I re-vamped the book — which is a collection of behind-the-scenes adventures about life in animated show business — and, yes, the tour took me across the U.S., Puerto Rico, England, Hungary, the Middle East, Asia, Southeast Asia. I was invited as a special guest speaker aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 and twice aboard an ultra luxury mega yacht called SeaDream for Transatlantic crossings. That was surreal! Like Cinderella at the ball. I spent years promoting it with lectures on the nature of creativity and with cartoon storytelling workshops. In fact I’m still promoting. I’m in discussion now with the City of Paducah for a residency as part of their UNESCO Creative Cities network connection.

DH: Director, Producer, Actor, Editor, Writer, Cinematographer, Animator…you do a lot!! Above animation which role do you enjoy the most?
SF: I don’t like it, this slash title world in which we live. But when you live the life of a working artist, being a Jack-of-all-trades can help… but I do feel I’m missing out on the rewards one gets from mastering one role. I try hard to simply be a good storyteller. If there’s one common denominator in all those titles it’s telling a story. Writer, I guess then would be the role I enjoy most. And producing. I love the team work, you know, the camaraderie, the coming together of many talents for a common goal. As aggravating as the sour apples in a group can be, collaborating with the good people and seeing an idea brought to life energizes me and brings so much pleasure. I’m still in love with it.

DH: You’re a working artist in perhaps the hardest industry in the world! Would you change anything?
SF: Ha! “Change anything.” About the world? About the industry? Or about being a working artist?

DH: Your choice.
SF: You know, I could be Zen about this and say, “Everything is happening as it should.”  I think the biggest lessons I’ve learned about being a working artist have to do with coming to terms with the words “compromise” and “control”, about the benefits of tenacity, and, as obvious as it sounds, of having something to say and using the arts to search for understanding. I don’t know if I’d phrase it as changing something so much as I see the responsibility we have as experienced professionals to share with others what we’ve learned. And the more I engage with people, all over the world, the more I see how crucial it is that people get off the surface of life. We are so conditioned to the conveniences of technology, and it’s numbing the human in us. Maybe that’s the thing I’d like to see changed, that people unplug from technology once in a while and go within to reflect. I’d like to see us build a stronger connection to instinct and to that little whisper inside which is how our characters speak to us. Too many people dismiss one another with cynicism and make no effort to find understanding about life, about human behavior.

You know, the first day of a rehearsal or a workshop or any creative endeavour I lead… here’s what I tell the artists: You are in the safest place you’ll ever be to create, because by my way of thinking there are no good ideas or bad ideas only ideas that reflect who you are and the level you’re at. And there is no right or wrong, there’s only effective or ineffective. If your idea is effective, great. It worked. If not then we work on it, we examine the motivation and objective of the character, and what you want to say, and we experiment until we make something that’s ineffective, effective.

And we do this by being open, in the moment, playful, spontaneous, curious … that’s the big one. Conditioning ourselves to be curious and inquisitive and to show interest in something other than self. I’ve listened to so many people talk, fixated on their own perspective — and I mean fixations that are narrow, limited, negative, bitter, unenlightened. And I want to ask them: have you ever engaged someone and just spent the time asking questions and listening? Just because you consider another point of view doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. It means you are open to something other than yourself. You’re asking what might be changed? How about we listen more than we speak, ask questions more than we make comments, and then combine the discoveries we make with our own point of view and let our work make the comment.

DH: Wow! That was…
SF: I know; I was appearing at Speakers’ Corner there for a moment.

DH: No, no. We like passion! One last question, what film still remains timeless for you?
SF: City Lights. Charlie Chaplin, 1931. Best last line of a movie ever, silent or sound.

DH: What a wonderful insight into your journey and career to date. Thank you, Steven Fischer, for being our inaugural subject in ‘The Green Room’. It has been a pleasure.
SF: It has pleasure for me, too. Thank you so much for the honour!

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January 24, 2019

Producer Steven Fischer in Hollywood, California, during production of “I am Max” for AMP Polska, Warsaw.

Max Linder in the Pravda Report

January 9, 2019

Max Linder is in the news! The Russian news source PRAVDA.RU released today this article about our new movie, I am Max, directed by the very talented Edward Porembny at AMP Polska.

Read the full article below or at http://www.pravdareport.com/society/showbiz/07-01-2019/142162-i_am_max-0/ 

You can help us complete the movie for a 2019 release. Please donate finishing funds (link: https://www.documentary.org/film/i-am-max ) through our fiscal sponsor, The International Documentary Association and receive a tax deduction. Thank you!

The full article:

Max Linder, the comic genius, mentor to Charlie Chaplin, has largely been forgotten – but now the movie industry is bringing him back to life in I am Max.

Pravdareport is proud to print an interview with Steven Fischer, Producer of the movie I am Max, about the life of one of cinema’s geniuses, mentor to Charlie Chaplin.

Give a synopsis of the subject of the movie? 

SF: I am Max tells the story of Max Linder, widely considered the first international movie star. He was a comic genius and a major contributor to cinema history. He was mentor to Charlie Chaplin and achieved incalculable wealth and celebrity, yet he died by suicide at age 42. How can a man like this be forgotten today?

Who got the idea to make the movie and why?
SF: The movie was originated by Edward Porembny, the director and lead producer, who is a gifted and award-winning filmmaker in Warsaw, Poland. In fact, earlier this year [2018] Edward won the Cannes Lions for his documentary, To The Last Tree Standing, which he co-directed with Aia Asé who is also working with us on I Am Max. Edward can tell you his reasons for wanting to tell the story of Max Linder, but for me, I was intrigued because of how timely and relevant Max Linder’s life is today. In his lifetime, Linder survived death four times only to die by suicide at age 42. And the first time he survived death, he was an infant, roast in an oven. It was the doctor’s attempt to cure him of cholera. He survived so much and achieved so much, fame and fortune, yet it wasn’t enough to bring happiness. He became so emotionally desperate he felt the only escape was suicide. His story touches also on that fine line between mental illness and genius which I find fascinating. Mental illness, depression, suicide, they’re each timely topics today, especially in the United States. His story touches on issues we see with Marilyn Monroe, John Belushi, Robin Williams…and it was all happening at the turn of the 20th Century. Also, the issue of celebrity and identity is relevant. Linder, who was born Gabriel Leuvielle, created this public persona called Max Linder. And then became Max Linder! This is a story of identity, and maybe even of personality disorder. Who was Max Linder? Who was Gabriel Leuvielle? And if they are two sides of the same person, then his life becomes a wonderful exploration into that complicated thing called the human psyche.

And in today’s world where social media makes everyone a Max Linder, that is to say a celebrity in their own world, a discussion what it means to have a healthy public life might be one that audiences would like. We’re excited to tour with our movie and have these discussions with audiences. I think it could be a helpful contribution to the public dialogue.

Now, on top of that, there’s the story of cinema history. Linder contributed so much to the history of comedy cinema by either inventing, innovating or at least making popular a lot of what became standard. The idea of a reoccurring character, for example. Before Chaplin developed his Tramp character, Linder was The Dandy, the bon vivant getting into all these jams and crazy adventures episode after episode. He was also Chaplin’s mentor. Chaplin admired his work greatly and considered Linder a teacher. The Marx Brothers, Lucille Ball, so many cinema and television comics tip their hat to Linder’s influence. This in itself is worthy of a movie, but when you add onto that all the social aspects I mentioned, I think you have a story ripe with history, art, and social significance.

How things are going right now?

SF: We are in post production and preparing for a release in 2019, in time for the Venice Film Festival. Also, the movie will be distributed by Canal+ in France and air on TVP Poland, RTBF Belgium, BNT Bulgaria, RTV Slovenia, CT Czech Republic, SVT Sweden, and RTP Portugal.

 

What do you need?

SF: What we need is an angel investor to support us with finishing funds. Our fiscal sponsor is the International Documentary Association, a 501c3 organization in Los Angeles, California. This means that anyone who donates, gifts, or invests with us receives a tax deduction. We need about 200,000 Euros to ensure we complete on time. We are also seeking a well-known film figure to serve as Executive Producer. For this we have approached the office of Martin Scorsese. He would be ideal to present our movie given his dedication to cinema history and preservation.

We are in position to create an artful and entertaining docu-drama. We are using archival footage in a new and creative way. By manipulating archival films, Linder movies, and actuality footage we hope to give an immediacy, as though we are discovering Linder’s life as it happens. For instance, there’s a Linder movie where he is snow skiing and meets a pretty girl. We have put our own dialogue to that footage and re-cut it to look like we’ve captured the moment where Linder meets the woman who becomes his wife. In this way we are dramatizing his life.

What is the broader message the movie wants to give?

SF: In my opinion the movie warns about the trappings of celebrity: the excess and the danger of believing one’s own hype. It’s a story about identity and it questions us about the blurred lines between our public self and our private self. And it’s a movie that celebrates the art of a true comic genius who has sadly been forgotten. If there’s one message we want our movie to deliver it’s this: This is Max Linder!

Story filed by: Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, Pravdareport

 

 

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.

 

I am Max

November 13, 2017

I am Max is the latest production from Director Edward Porembny and Producers Steven Fischer, Edward Porembny, Daniel Markowicz, and Olivier Gal.

Click here to watch the 2-minute teaser.

 

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

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

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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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.