Posts Tagged ‘old school new school’

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.

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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.

Old School New School review on Snaptwig

February 8, 2017

A blast from the past — Snaptwig review of Old School New School, a study on creativity. Quite thorough. If anyone knows the author, please let me know!

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

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

Old School, New School: The inspiring documentary by film-maker Steven Fischer

Steven Fischer’s recent documentary, Old School, New School is a triumphant view of how artists fuel their creativity and drive to bring their creative inspirations to fruition, and the challenges involved. The film brings to the light what inspirations professionals have, and provides vindication for current creative professionals in that their thinking is universal. The documentary provides a resounding echo of all of the shared thoughts of artists from around the world which creates a sense of community. The film accomplishes this through bringing together experts in all genres of art and entertainment in interviews about their perception of inspiration, drive to succeed in the arts, and the challenges involved.

The interviews in the film include Emmy winning actor Brian Cox, Tony award winning producer, Emanuel Azenberg, Oscar nominated cinematographer William Fraker, Grammy winning jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, accomplished actor Tomas Arana, renowned cinematographer John Bailey, accomplished actor Ben Jones, acclaimed theater director and actor Sam McCready, distinguished poet James Ragan, and award winning improvisational dancer Kirstie Simson.

Steven Fischer, the director, writer, and producer of Old School, New School, credits the many conversations with friends and colleagues over the years, as well as the 1974 documentary, “Place de la Republique” by Louis Malle for the inspiration to make the documentary. Fischer explains the inspiration, “I was so interested in that concept, that idea of a movie that is driven by a running conversation. I’d like to try that, to make a movie that’s just one running conversation. That’s a challenge for me. You combine that with at the same time doing these experiments, recording these conversations about creativity, about the arts. It all gets mixed together, and evolves into what became Old School New School.”

Finding the people willing to be interviewed for the documentary was another challenge to overcome for Fischer. True to form, he never gave up and followed every opportunity to find the wonderful artists who appear in the film and readily give their insight, and advice for artists in every medium on creativity, the creative process, and drive to follow through with one’s dreams.

One such opportunity came while premiering his animated documentary, Freedom Dance with Mariska Hargitay, which was shown at a festival in Washington D.C. in 2008. Fischer met a woman from Kodak of New York, and her interest in his idea for Old School, New School so inspired her that she introduced Fischer to Lisa Muldowney from a Los Angeles PR firm. This introduction led to assistance in finding artists and film makers willing to participate in the project.

Of the challenging experience of finding the willing professionals Fischer explains his drive and inspiration, “I have no idea how these things happen, but I think part of it has to do with the bravery and courage to go after something, and to get the wheels in motion, and to start producing your project. By going through the motion, and by generating activity, I think then somehow activity begets more activity, and things start to happen…, but there’s such serendipity in that, and that I would never dare to guess how that happens, but I wish that there was a way to provoke it. I think I’ve found that for me there are three aspects to this. One is to know what you want. Two is to have a plan. And three is to trust your instincts. I find repeatedly, when I follow that, for me, things seem to – well, I guess quote unquote, luck seems to happen, and obviously it’s not luck. (Of finding the professionals to be interviewed) It is the result of a lot of effort, and being prepared, and just being tenacious.”

Tenacious would be an understatement of a description for this experienced producer and director. Persistent, inspiring, and driven are better adjectives to describe Steven Fischer; all of which are necessary to be successful the entertainment industry. Journalist, Tracy Saville, comments on Fischer in her April 16, 2012 article about Old School, New School, “His search for the essential truths, driven only by a passion to advance his own knowledge and understanding is why old school ideas like what it takes to be powerfully creative in today’s world stand the test of time.” (www.thepossibilityplace.com, 2012)

Fischer’s long time friend and lawyer, Diane Davison, assisted him in finding the talented professionals to be interviewed and became a producer for the film. Davison commends Fischer, “He (Fischer) is an amazingly multi-faceted artist in every sense of the word: art, animation, music, film. I don’t know if he dances too, but that would definitely not surprise me! Add talent, vision, tenacity and business acumen to that and you have someone who has successfully created Art with a capital “A” since of a young age.”

James Ragan, who was interviewed for the film, relays his impressions of working with Fischer on the film, “His ease in interviewing in front of the camera made the entire documentary a conversation rather than an academic thesis. It’s clear by the responses he received from each person interviewed that he’s genuinely interested in their careers and is a master at drawing out the anecdote that best defines his subject and their personalities.”

Chris Cassidy, one of the cinematographers who worked on the film, shares his involvement, “I think the documentary Old School, New School is really important. People want to know about ‘the process’ of where creativity comes from. Hearing from all these fantastic people makes the film an important and educational lesson. The project was very exciting to work on. Each subject had different things to say, and different approaches. Not only was it an exciting job, but I learned a lot too. That doesn’t always happen on a shoot.”

Fischer’s longtime friend, camera operator, and collaborator, Gregg Landry says,”Old School, New School is, I think, the perfect reflection of where Steven is with his artistry today. He has achieved a high level of achievement in the creative world but humbly seeks more insight, more knowledge, more wisdom. Old School, New School educates the audience in a very dynamic way.”

Fischer’s long time friend, colleague, and mentor Steven Melendez explains his involvement with the project, “I have known Steven since he was in high school in London, and we have become firm friends. Old School, New School is a very interesting film for me. Steven spent a number of years quizzing me about how I go about making a film,… One thing I think that Steven learned from making the film, is that one has to trust oneself, and believe in what you are trying to say, and then develop the skills to excite others to come on board your ship”.

The theme of this incredible documentary seems to resonate through all those involved and all those who view it, ‘Believe in yourself and what you have to say, seek out opportunities to perfect your craft and perform your craft, and define success for yourself.’ The documentary is currently used as an inspirational teaching tool at universities across the U.S., and can also be viewed on www.snagfilms.com

Viewers respond to Old School New School

September 9, 2014

We wanted to share some of the latest responses from viewers across the internet who’ve been watching Old School New School, Steven Fischer’s study on creativity with actor Brian Cox, jazz great McCoy Tyner, and cinematography legend William Fraker.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your continued interest and support is greatly appreciated!

Just finished watching this 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!
Robert M., Australia

Steven, really enjoyed Old School New School. Sharing it with everybody I know!
Rene M., Dallas, TX

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 M., Chicago, IL

terrific documentary on creativity with actor Brian Cox – it is amazing!
Geoff T., Los Angeles, CA

Yay Steven!
CINE Awards, Washington, DC

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

Great film! Especially for creative types.
Jennifer W., Denver, CO

Creativity and success: This week’s Snag Learning Film of the week is Old School New School
Ed Tweeps @edtweeps

Old School New School screening at Chapman University

November 19, 2012

On Monday, Nov 12, Old School New School screened at Chapman University in Orange, California. The post screening Q&A with director Steven Fischer was led by producer Michael Phillips. Click here to hear a moment from the evening in which Fischer talks about where creativity and ideas come from.

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.

Who are you?

August 1, 2012

Who are you? What do you most wish for?

Krzysztof Kieslowski asked these two deceptively simple questions to 100 people ranging in age from 1- to 100-years old. The result is the documentary Gadajace glowy

This is a wonderfully insightful, profound look at the human condition. Enjoy.

Creativity Explored at National Louis University – June 18, 2012

June 6, 2012

“Creativity Explored”
– Steven Fischer
A simple question about personal creative development over a cup of coffee led to a four-year journey of
enlightenment in which Steven Fischer (a two-time Emmy® Award nominated writer/producer noted for artistic
and socially conscious storytelling) uncovered insights about success, risk, individuality and so much more. In
this session, he will present and discuss some of the techniques that have contributed to his creative success and
show excerpts from his award winning documentary, Old School New School- a personal study on creativity.

Details:
Place: National Louis University
Monday, June 18, 2012
10am-noon
Tickets: $15
5202 Old Orchard Road, Skokie, IL 60077
Phone: (224) 233-2366

Creativity at Acorn Theater

April 26, 2012

Join us Saturday, April 28, 2012 at the Acorn Theater in Three Oaks, Michigan for a stimulating discussion on creative self development.

Details and registration

Location: Acorn Theater, 107 Generations Drive, Three Oaks, MI 49128

Date: Sat, Apr 28, 2012
Time: 1pm-3pm
Price: $15.00

Panelists:
Allen Turner, Chairman of the board of Columbia College Chicago’s Board of Trustees
Barbara Allen, Emmy Award winning producer, “DuSable to Obama”.
Corky Siegel, musician: Siegel-Schwall Band and the Chamber Blues group
Rick Kogan, creator/host, “The Sunday Papers with Rick Kogan” (WGN Radio)
Kim Clark, Emmy nominated producer; Artistic Director, Acorn Theatre

Moderator:
Steven Fischer, two-time Emmy nominated producer of Old School New School with Brian Cox.

“Death: A Perspective on Life” coming April 5, 2012

March 24, 2012

On Thursday, April 5 at 6pm we will be having an interactive panel discussion at the Chicago Cultural Center about mortality and creativity.

“In my beginning is my end. In my end is my beginning.” These two poetic statements, which frame one of T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, capture the spirit of this panel discussion about the ways in which awareness of our own mortality impacts our life’s meaning, our creativity, and our resilience to adversity.

The Panelists:
Leah Roth-Howe is a descendant of Holocaust survivors. She draws on her family’s legacy to better understand the causes of genocide and uses the arts as a means of healing. In 2008, Leah led educational and art workshops in Cambodia for Khmer Rouge genocide survivors and their family members.

Omer Mozaffar was born in Karachi, Pakistan and is a lifelong member of the Chicago Muslim Community. He teaches Islamic studies at University of Chicago (Graham School), Loyola University, and Islamic centers throughout the city.

Dr. Todd DuBose has 25 years of experience in various modes of caring for others in tragic and/or “boundary” situations – from trauma chaplaincy and pastoral care to the arts of clinical psychology, focusing his work on the interplay between suffering, meaning, and care, and the inherent spirituality within this process. Dr. DuBose is an Associate Professor at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and a licensed existential-phenomenological psychologist.

The Moderator:
Steven Fischer, who will facilitate the discussion, is a two-time Emmy® nominated writer/producer known for films that explore the human condition. His latest documentary, Old School New School, examines the nature of creativity with actor Brian Cox.

Hours: 6pm – 7.30pm

Location:
Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington Street, 5th Floor Washington Room
Chicago, IL 60602

Admission: FREE!

This event is a part of the lecture series Starting from Scratch: The Psychology of Beginning, sponsored by The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Morbid Curiosity showcases collector Richard Harris’s nearly 1,000 works, including creations by many of the greatest artists of our time, which explore the iconography of death and human mortality. This exhibition of art, artifacts, installations, and decorative objects reflects the breadth of artistic expression on this topic across a variety of cultural and spiritual traditions and through almost six centuries.

For more details visit: Chicago Cultural Center