Posts Tagged ‘mariska hargitay’

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.

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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 at DC Independent Film Festival

March 6, 2016

A big thank you to Erica Ginsberg at Docs In Progress and Hannah Jayanti for inviting me to appear on a panel discussion on animation in documentaries at the DCIFF today!

Through the magic of the internet I was Skyped in from Chicago to a dais which included Oscar-nominated filmmaker Dee Hibbert-Jones (talking about her animated doc Last Day of Freedom) and Gillian Klempner Willman (talking about her animated doc The New Woman). I was there to talk about my role on Freedom Dance with Mariska Hargitay.

The panel was held at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC. Here’s my view:

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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.

Freedom Dance and Cartoon Lecture – Boston

April 25, 2015

A big THANK YOU! to Dr. György Baffy, Dr. Ildikó Halász, MD, and Dr. Ágnes Virga, MD for hosting Thursday’s screening of Freedom Dance (featuring Mariska Hargitay) and lecture on how cartoon art contributes to a healing process. The event was a jointly presented by the Hungarian Medical Association of America and the Hungarian Society of Massachusetts.

The event was held in Boston at Northeastern University in the conference room of the laboratory of Prof. Dr. Albert-László Barabási, who generously offered this great venue regularly giving home to the Tudósklub of HSM.

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Pictured (L-R) Dr. Gyorgy Baffy, writer-producer-director Steven Fischer, biologist Janos Polgar.

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.

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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.

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(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.

Compass Speakers Welcomes Steven Fischer

August 6, 2013

Compass Speakers is pleased to announce the addition of two-time Emmy nominated writer/producer Steven Fischer to their Special Interest Speaker Roster.

Steven Fischer brings to Compass an expertise in creative self-development and cartoon history, knowledge he’s gained in a 20-year career as a live-action and animated film writer and producer. His rich track record of stories that celebrate the human spirit includes the critically acclaimed 2007 animated film Freedom Dance starring Mariska Hargitay. Mr. Fischer’s additional works include the movie Old School New School with Brian Cox and McCoy Tyner as well as films for PBS, Nextel, TV Asia, Romanian Television Network, and AmeriCorps. He has worked on projects with such artistic heavyweights as Bill Melendez, Martin Scorsese, Bill Cosby, Margaret Cho, Richard O’Brien, and Tavis Smiley.

Additionally, Mr. Fischer teaches storytelling at Northwestern University and speaks internationally on creativity.

For more than a decade, Compass Speakers and Entertainment Inc. has earned a reputation for being an industry leader in supplying the most opulent cruise lines with paramount onboard programming. Compass Speakers devotes itself to seeking acclaimed destination and special interest lecturers, literary luminaries, art, dance, golf and yoga instructors, religious service leaders, and celebrities.

Compass has been in the industry for over 15 years and has served every major luxury and ultra luxury line including: Crystal Cruises, Cunard Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, SeaDream Yacht Club, and Silversea Cruises.

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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.
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