Posts Tagged ‘maryland’

Baltimore Homecoming!

March 15, 2018

Thank you, Baltimore Homecoming, for the delicious invitation to participate in 2018’s inaugural homecoming. It’s an honor and a real treat! I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

Award-winning writer/producer/director Steven Fischer is one of 150 Baltimore ex-pats to receive an invitation to Baltimore Homecoming 2018.

 

 

Advertisements

The Importance of Going Within

March 13, 2018

Winnetka Living recently published this article by Steven Fischer on creativity.

A Writer’s Journal – Creativity and Screenplays

February 15, 2018

Recently, someone asked me for a personal example of what a writer goes through to write a script for TV or for the cinema. In answering the question I re-discovered these excerpts from a production diary I kept while writing and directing Urban Paradise (originally called The National Arboretum) for Maryland Public Television/PBS. The 8-minute movie was a segment for the Emmy-winning series Outdoors’ Maryland, a narration-driven look at Maryland’s outdoor life. It premiered June 21, 2011.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading about how one writer tackles the challenges of creating a new story.

~Steven Fischer

 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The script for The National Arboretum, like most scripts, is the result of many months of questioning and exploring and deliberating.

When I was first introduced to the Arboretum in October 2010 and given a tour by Gardens Unit Leader Scott Aker, the immediate impression was how motherly the public garden was. But it was more than just the garden’s obvious relationship to Mother Nature. I could not define it completely, nor could I shake the interpretation, so I continued to explore it as the project developed. As I collected facts, stories, and relevant information for the script, everyone I interviewed about the arboretum agreed that there was a connection between the arboretum and something matronly. With that encouragement I established “motherhood” as the central theme, basing all my creative decisions about scenes, stories, photography, lighting, narration, and perspective around motherhood and all things motherhood represented to me: strength, dignity, protection, nurture, beauty, unconditional love, etc.

This was a tremendous help in writing the script, but the process, as always, was a labor of trial and error, questioning and experimenting with answers. I was still at the beginning of a long journey.

In my early research of arboretums I discovered the writing of Laura Barton. Laura is an English writer on staff at The Guardian. Her work, especially on the Westonbirt Arboretum in Tetbury, England, was instantly inspiring. She is a natural writer and clearly in love with words. Her poetic description of Westonbirt, cut to the thoughtful cinematography of Felix Clay, influenced the poetic direction I intuitively wanted to go.

For further influence  I returned to two sources that never fail: Charlotte Brontë and Shelby Foote. Passages from Jane Eyre always leave me breathless while Foote’s mastery of the historical narrative is a model – and the early versions of the Arboretum script were filled with many stories from its very interesting history.

As time went on and I began collecting on-camera interviews and editing the beauty shots of the gardens, it became apparent that the original structure I had wanted to follow (interweaving history and stories with the research unit, the social value of the arboretum, and beauty shots) was producing a work much longer than the 8-minute run time we were assigned.

I also needed to keep in mind what would best serve the Outdoors’ Maryland series. The answer was: a focused piece on facts, the research unit, and the social value of the Arboretum. So I honed the script to meet that framework keeping in mind that every word of narration must reflect the central theme of motherhood. It was a matter of working and re-working the script.

Then there was a little matter of the ending. I could not find one of any real significance. The frustration was agonizing.

2.

At this point the structure was established and I had the sequence on the research unit next-to-last in the segment. To jump from the research unit to an ending that wrapped up everything was jarring and felt uncomfortable. It also didn’t make any sense.

We were now in January, 2011. The deadline was approaching fast, and a suitable ending was still elusive.

On a walk one January day, I pondered the problem of how to end the script when I asked suddenly an unexpected question: “What is the ideal ending?” That simple question sparked an inner response that stimulated the imagination!

The ideal ending, I reminded myself, thinking back to earlier ideas, was either a poetic line that made the audience feel good or a line that wrapped up the whole motherhood theme. The rest of that day was spent experimenting with those ideas. That session helped define the arboretum in human terms: the personality of the place, its usefulness to society, its qualities, etc. This led to a memory of lines spoken to me by Dr. Griesbach, a former Arboretum staff member I interview weeks before. I asked: “If the Arboretum was a person, how would you describe her?” Griesbach gave one of the best answers: She has many personalities: flaunty and gregarious like the Bonsai, refined and shy as the Asian garden…

The line had potential for the ending. I recorded a scratch track of it and, not fitting as well at the end as I imagined, found a useful place for it in the middle (which later had to be removed for time’s sake). But adding that line forced me to move a couple of other sequences around and that rearrangement, after living with it four more weeks, led to a discovery that has become the ending.

While in conversation with Dr. Margaret Pooler, head of the research unit, I mentioned that the Arboretum seemed to me a grandmother people go to for a hug. Pooler was struck by the line and commented on its sweetness. I agreed. It was a moment of epiphany. That was the line! That could be the final line of narration. I wasn’t sure how exactly, but I knew it was an important piece of the puzzle.

3.

The original line ending the script ran something like, The National Arboretum provides sanctuary for human and plant life alike. She might very well be the nation’s grandmother, offering those inner comforts that make visitors feel loved.

When I recorded the scratch track and played it back it sounded like, “love” instead of “loved”, so I amended the script, preferring the misinterpretation. Removing this one letter may not seem like a big deal, but it re-positioned my mindset for the next discovery that was about to come.

As the next couple of days went by I began thinking more in terms of the beauty of nature and the beauty of truth. This led me to the work of the poet Keats and then to my well-read edition of Philosophies of Art & Beauty edited by Albert Hofstadter and Richard Kuhns. The volume collects writings from all the major thinkers, from Plato to Heidegger, each answering the questions what is art? and what is beauty? As I read Ficino’s contribution I came across the second chapter of his treatise on Plato’s Symposium. The chapter title read: How Divine Beauty Inspires Love. That did it.

“Inspires love.” What a turn of words! That was the ending; the ending wasn’t “inner comforts that make visitors feel love”, but inner comforts that inspire love.

All of this came about in the past couple of days, exactly one month to the day I took that walk in January and posed that simple question to myself.

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

Acting for Directors workshop at St John’s College Film Institute, New Mexico!

July 3, 2015
Many thanks to Scott Hannan and David Carl for hosting my workshop at St. John’s College!
St John's College in beautiful Santa Fe, NM.

St John’s College in beautiful Santa Fe, NM.

Steven Fischer directing actors in Acting for Directors.

Steven Fischer directing class participants.

 

Steven Fischer presents: Acting for Directors at St. John’s College Summer Film Institute, Santa Fe, New Mexcio.
 
This interactive workshop is an introduction to acting. Animation and live action directors will experience the fundamentals of acting to generate performance ideas they can use to help bring on-screen characters to life.
 
Characterization, delivery, timing, expression, motivation, body language, and movement will be studied through a variety of storytelling and acting exercises. Participants will simultaneously use the discoveries they make during these exercises to create an original story.
 
Objective:
To understand acting and how it relates to animation and/or live action storytelling, and how these skills can be used to bring characters to life, to experience feelings and learn to trust instincts, to experience acting (body language, tone, pace, rhythm) and apply the experience to the building of believable characters.

Christmas and The Senator Theater

January 4, 2015

I recently received a very thoughtful gift from my Aunt Pat: a reel bought at auction from Baltimore’s famous Senator Theater. It’s reel 3 of Vengeance (1977) sometimes called Kid Vengeance. Starring Jim Brown and Leif Garrett.

This lovely moment was captured by Owen Dawson.

steven-fischer-kathleen-monroe-senator-theater-baltimore-maryland-films

Steven Fischer and Kathleen Monroe examine a reel from The Senator Theater.

What People Are Saying About Old School New School

February 23, 2012

Here are some comments from audience members who’ve seen Old School New School. Take a moment to watch the movie, and share your thoughts on the comment section above OSNS at Snag Films.

****

“A striking, provocative, and terribly important documentary.”

Rick Kogan, WGN Radio 720, Chicago

****

Steven, Your film 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… Thanks so much for sharing such an inspiring documentary.

Donna C., Chicago, IL

****

Steven, I enjoyed your film! Your thought provoking look at creativity through various media and live conversation is really raising the bar. CONGRATULATIONS!

Russ M., Baltimore, MD

****

A terrific documentary….with a cast of brilliant minds. Better than a $2500 creativity workshop.

George L., Los Angeles, CA

****

I watch your film Old School New School. It was really helpful. I watch it at least once a day. It fires my creative synapses. I shared it on my facebook with my friends. I has help me in creating my first doc project. We are in the process of writing a grant and we are almost done I am excited. Once again I want to thank you for the film.

Jermaine T., Kansas City, MO

****

I love the personalities in this film, Steven, it was really a great group of people. Sage wisdom for any artist at any level. Very enjoyable!

Dawn Y., Richmond, VA

****

Hi Steven Fischer,
I enjoyed your documentary, love Brian Cox and found it to be truthful, heartening for me and the choices I have made as an actress/singer and will post to my fb page, if you like!

Thank you,
Beka, Chicago, IL

****

I’ve just finished watching your inspiring film, Old School New School. It is illuminating and engrossing. Thanks!

Terry E., Chicago, IL

****

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. Keep at it, we will do same.

Our very best,

Tracey 0., Hearst Corporation

****

Steven–Great film, great interviews–what interesting people and ideas.

Wendy, Washington, DC

****

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. I was also interested in what the interviewees were NOT saying—but were perhaps implying with their body language, eyes, etc. I think half of what drives a creative person, and indeed, what drives the creative process cannot adequately be expressed in language. Ironically, some of those things can only be expressed or understood after a *proper* exposure to the creation itself (but still cannot be expressed properly with language). The problem is, we are so distracted and numb most of the time, we don’t often get a *proper* exposure to the creation—even when we are right in front of it.

I’ve often thought about the crossroads between the arts, aesthetics and brain-related science… (cognition, etc). I agree with that line from Social Network when the Zuckerburg character says, “just like fashion, Facebook will never be done”; meaning that culture, knowledge, status quo, meaning, etc., is always shifting and in motion (waxing and waning might be a better way to put it). The way we interpret the world we experience is usually drawn upon existing lines or analogy pathways from previous lessons (that is to say symbols that bare meaning). In that way, the value we place on things changes from moment to moment and what is creatively valuable is always in flux.

I think that’s why smart, creative, healthy people place such high importance on trying things, reading, trial-and-error, improving one’s self, and asking a lot of questions…

Ryon B., Salt Lake City, Utah

****

I thought this film 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., Albany, Oregon

****

Dear Steven,

Hello! I took the leap of faith and moved to Los Angeles a little over 3 months ago … Overall, things are going well.

Success in the arts comes from within and believing in one’s goals, no matter what anybody else says. “Security vs.risk”. Personally, if somebody loves something, they find a way to do it, no matter what. My life revolves around the arts, acting, music, and medicine. My personal juggling skills of the arts and my medical career would have seemed difficult, or at best impossible to others. But I have done it for years.

Thank you for sharing and creating this great documentary. I wish you much continued success in your upcoming projects!

Sincerely,
Lora B., Los Angeles, CA

****

Steven,
Congratulations on your documentary! I just finished watching it. I love this subject and it is very close to my heart … I applaud your tenacity on your latest production. Thanks for sharing.

Sincerely,
Phil C., Falls Church, VA

****

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. I think that, sometimes, when creative efforts, or goals, fall short for people, it can be rooted squarely in the premise of having the wrong motivation. People can find tremendous creative success (or any kind of success) for themselves if they can be really honest about WHY they are doing something and WHAT they want to do. Now that kind honesty isn’t always easy to know, it can be hidden or tucked away. It can be all mangled up in the hypnotic glitter, bells and whistles of fame or noteriety. Or sunk deep in the quagmire of abuse, neglect, ridicule or apapthy.

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.

****

This 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 really enjoyed your film and the exploration of questions around creativity and creative fulfillment. As a woman, my wish would have been for you to interview a few more women.

Isabelle R.

****

Interesting topic and approach. I especially connected to and took a lot from Dr. Ragan’s story and message. I keep thinking about how inspirational the entire film is and how I want to show clips to our school’s aspiring artists!

Jamie G., Evanston, IL

****

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., Washington, DC

****

This film is terrific. Love the wide range of subjects selected (Brian Cox AND McCoy Tyner?) to speak about creativity and how it is woven into the fabric of our lives—including social class. I think anyone who creates art or seeks to understand those who create it will profit from seeing it, but I’d love to see Old School, New School disseminated widely in schools and other venues that could reach artists early in their careers. It captures the joys and vicissitudes of the creative process in a way that would benefit young artists.

Richard B., Catonsville, MD

****

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 warm up, this is it!

Howard E., Exeter, UK

****

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., United Kingdom

****

Lots of good insight in this film. One line stood out to me was something Fraker said: “live by the decisions you make, right or wrong…”

Many times when out in the field you are forced to make decisions on the spot, that can be scary, but the truth is, you just have to go for it and trust your instinct at that moment.

Thea M., Los Angeles, CA

****

This documentary 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., Washington, DC

****

Steven is exactly right with his opening comments…if he wanted answers to these important questions, others would too. This film was an insightful exploration of the creative process and spans a variety of disciplines. I think we can all give Steve a congratulations and thanks for allowing us to be the other person in the room for these very personal, comfortable conversations.

Gregg L., Baltimore, MD

****

Steven Fischer takes us on an inward journey in OLD SCHOOL NEW SCHOOL to wrestle with THE fundamental concept of a successful artist: vulnerable truth. You will enjoy hearing the reflections of experience in these interviews that extol the virtues of an honest creative voice. Enjoy the film, it is a worthwhile view for any artist – old or new!

Winston S., Camp Lejeune, NC

****

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 :-)))

Larry C., Corpus Christi, TX

****

Well done, and thank 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 “inspirational messages”. I enjoyed it, and will pass it along to those in my circle.

Carl B., New York, NY

****

This Has something for every artist from Dance and poetry to jazz and photography a must see.

Lt. Norsal, Chicago, IL

****

I am so glad you made this documentary, this topic is something that I spend many hours debating and obsessing over in my head. I think the answer, that there is no answer in terms of the right pathway is correct. Finding your voice, to me, is what matters, once that voice is found, the individual can then go about orchestrating there means of satisfying it, and I firmly believe, that if their creative voice is important enough to them, they will find them means of satisfaction, no matter what their situation. Which to me is true success, finding your voice and then satisfying it. Thank-you for making this!

Angela B.

****

I liked it a lot. 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. Artistic professions are different from business or science because success cannot be measured by quantitative means such as money or data. Being an “artist” really requires being true, especially to one’s self. Great film.

Ze

****

Great! Steven Fischer, you ROCK! So simple, yet so profound! Thanks for this inspiring documentary!

Christina G.

****

Fantastic film—handles questions I have thought about e.g what is success. I see a lot of people buying lotttery tickets every week. It is certain that someone will win the jackpot and call himself/herself successful. But really it was just luck.. yet seeig this many neighbors will emulate and buy even more lottery tickets.

How much of career success is just statistical chance? luck of the draw..we all like to think hard work pays because of our reference group. If we were not at least partially successful, you wouldnt be engaging in high-brow chatter….

Paul

The Entertainment Corner Reviews OSNS

December 5, 2011

The Entertainment Corner reviewed Old School New School.

Click here to read.

Steven Fischer Speaks at UMBC October 15

September 29, 2011

Homecoming 2011 at University of Maryland Baltimore County is right around the corner. In celebration, UMBC will be hosting several days of events including An Arts and Humanities Afternoon extravaganza featuring a panel discussion with filmmaker alumni Daphne Gardner, Richard Chisolm, Brian Dannelly, Shawn Vanden and Steven Fischer.

Arts Afternoon with moderator David Warfield and UMBC Alumni filmmakers (L-R) Richard Chisolm, Daphne Gardner, Steven Fischer, and Shawn Vanden. Photo by Marlayna Demond. October 15, 2011.

An Evening of Creative Exploration with Steven Fischer

August 20, 2011

On Thursday, September 1, 2011, BlueRock Productions LLC and Emmy® Award nominated producer 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.

What is genius? Do you have to suffer to succeed? What makes a good story? These are just some of the questions Fischer and his guests will discuss along with questions from the audience. Join us for a thought-provoking evening of inspired discussion.

Details and confirmed panelists:

Peggy Santiglia, singer/songwriter (PolyGram, United Artists) member of The Angels, noted for the 1963 pop hit, My Boyfriend’s Back.

Paul Iwancio, award-winning singer/songwriter and founder of Baltimore Songwriters Association.

Michelle La Perriere, Fine Artist and faculty member at Maryland Institute College of Art.

WHEN: Thursday, September 1, 2011
Doors open 6.30pm, program runs 7pm-9pm

WHERE: BlueRock Productions Studio
4226 Amos Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21215 (free parking)

RSVP: to ensure a seat, please email your RSVP to oldschooldocumentary@yahoo.com subject heading: Baltimore Panel.

Secrets of Success: The Nature of Creativity is a panel-driven seminar supporting Steven Fischer’s documentary on creativity, Old School New School, released worldwide by Snag Films in 2011. The movie features actor Brian Cox, jazz legend McCoy Tyner, and Oscar nominated cinematographer William Fraker, ASC. Link: http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/old_school_new_school/