Posts Tagged ‘jazz’

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.

Advertisements

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

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.

John Cleese on Creativity

September 23, 2012

Click here to watch an insightful, inspiring speech from John Cleese at Video Arts on Creativity. He reminds us of the value space, time, confidence, and humor have in our ability to tap into our full creative potential. Some of the ideas are present in Old School New School.

Creativity Symposium comes to Avila University, Kansas City, MO

February 2, 2012

Avila University and Steven Fischer present Secrets of Success: The Nature of Creativity, an interactive panel discussion exploring how a person can tap into his or her full creative potential. The panel continues the dialogue begun in Old School New School with such world-class artists as actor Brian Cox, jazz great McCoy Tyner, and cinematography legend William Fraker.

Join panelists Hermon Mehari, Meagan Flynn, Dr. Sue Ellen McCalley, Stanley E. Bank, and Lori Raye.

OSNS on OSNS

June 23, 2011

Steven Fischer, producer of Old School New School the movie, will be appearing on Old School New School the podcast on Thursday, July 7 2011 at 6.30pm PST. More details to come.

Old School New School-McCoy Tyner makes World News

August 30, 2010

The clips of McCoy Tyner’s conversation in Old School New School was picked up by World News. Check it out: McCoy Tyner Conversation.

City Paper’s Feature Story on Old School New School

July 14, 2010

Released today and documents a recent shoot in New York with jazz great McCoy Tyner.

Click here and check it out!

Brian Cox and McCoy Tyner Shoots

June 12, 2010

In the past few days here in NYC, we’ve recorded Brian Cox, McCoy Tyner and Francisco Mela for Old School New School, our inspirational study on creativity and how young people can reach their full creative potential.

Brian proved a true delight, a gracious host, and was so animated and electric when he spoke I’ve no doubt his appearance in the movie will be a highlight.

With McCoy I’ve never laughed so much during a recorded conversation. He displays such a lively spirit, even though in his 70s, the child within him is still alive and vibrant. He’s such a playful, fun-loving soul.

Francisco was generous with his thoughts and equally as lively as McCoy. It’s going to be fun to edit these conversations.

A journalist joined us on the shoots as he is filing a feature story for City Paper and Urbanite. He observed the shoots, made a lot of notes, and at the end of the day we spent an hour in a nearby cafe interviewing about the movie over coffee. More details to come.

Many thanks to DP Chris Cassidy and videographer Fred Weil for capturing these three remarkable storytellers, and for giving as much as they did to make the shoot a terrific experience.

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

Tomas Arana, Herman Leonard, and Allen Moore

October 5, 2009

The Next Old School New School subjects are…

Cinematographer Allen Moore. He’s one of Ken Burns’ trusted cameramen and has served as cinematographer on Burns’ classics The Civil War, Thomas Jefferson, The West, The National Parks. His own films are equally as amazing. The Shepherd of Berneray is an extraordinary documentary of a year in the life of a Gaelic-speaking island community in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.

Actor Tomas Arana is also on board to appear in Old School New School. He is probably best known for the role of Quintis in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, but his credits extend way beyond…. ER, Pearl Harbor, The Bodyguard, CSI, 24 … and a ton of work throughout Europe. The list goes on. His connection with fine artists such as Andy Warhol and the lessons he learned about creativity had me completely engaged in our chat.

Actor Tomas Arana.

Actor Tomas Arana.

And legendary photographer Herman Leonard has agreed to appear in the movie! Quincy Jones once wrote that any image a person has in mind of Jazz history is probably one of Herman Leonard’s photos. He’s photographed everyone from Louis Armstrong to Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, and Marlon Brando not to mention Clark Gable, Harry Truman and Albert Einstein!

Legendary photographer Herman Leonard.

Legendary photographer Herman Leonard.

Old School, New School producers Diane Leigh Davison and Steven Fischer with Herman Leonard (far left) at a gallery opening in New York City. (2009, photo by Rick Edwards)

Old School, New School producers Diane Leigh Davison and Steven Fischer with Herman Leonard (far left) at a gallery opening in New York City. (2009, photo by Rick Edwards)

Having chatted with him, I’ve discovered Mr. Leonard to be a terrific storyteller. He told a fascinating story of a conversation he had with Albert Einstein and Einstein’s thoughts on the creative power of improvisation. I’m looking forward to this one. Details soon.

More details to follow. Many thanks to Diane Davison for making it happen!