Posts Tagged ‘paramount pictures’

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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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.

Hucksters and Conformists

August 28, 2009

Double bill tonight, The Hucksters (1947) with Clark Gable and The Conformist (1970) by Bertolucci.

The Conformist I needed to see because Vittorio Storaro rocks and the photography of this movie still takes my breath away! It always inspires. The time screening it though I developed more appreciation for the set designs. Pretty outstanding.

My friend Richard Kline sent me a DVD burn of Hucksters. He’s a retired cinematographer who’s turned to writing scripts. We talk often about cinematography, acting, and the craft of storytelling. For him, The Hucksters features quintessential acting. He challenged me to see if I could imagine any of todays leading actors pulling off what Gable, Kerr and Greenstreet did. I developed a new found respect for Clark Gable. There are some nice subtleties. Ava Gardner’s in it too, I think. Cute as ever. I didn’t care about the advertising game, but the love story between Gable and Kerr was great! Very touching.