Posts Tagged ‘steven fischer’

January 24, 2019

Producer Steven Fischer in Hollywood, California, during production of “I am Max” for AMP Polska, Warsaw.

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Max Linder in the Pravda Report

January 9, 2019

Max Linder is in the news! The Russian news source PRAVDA.RU released today this article about our new movie, I am Max, directed by the very talented Edward Porembny at AMP Polska.

Read the full article below or at http://www.pravdareport.com/society/showbiz/07-01-2019/142162-i_am_max-0/ 

You can help us complete the movie for a 2019 release. Please donate finishing funds (link: https://www.documentary.org/film/i-am-max ) through our fiscal sponsor, The International Documentary Association and receive a tax deduction. Thank you!

The full article:

Max Linder, the comic genius, mentor to Charlie Chaplin, has largely been forgotten – but now the movie industry is bringing him back to life in I am Max.

Pravdareport is proud to print an interview with Steven Fischer, Producer of the movie I am Max, about the life of one of cinema’s geniuses, mentor to Charlie Chaplin.

Give a synopsis of the subject of the movie? 

SF: I am Max tells the story of Max Linder, widely considered the first international movie star. He was a comic genius and a major contributor to cinema history. He was mentor to Charlie Chaplin and achieved incalculable wealth and celebrity, yet he died by suicide at age 42. How can a man like this be forgotten today?

Who got the idea to make the movie and why?
SF: The movie was originated by Edward Porembny, the director and lead producer, who is a gifted and award-winning filmmaker in Warsaw, Poland. In fact, earlier this year [2018] Edward won the Cannes Lions for his documentary, To The Last Tree Standing, which he co-directed with Aia Asé who is also working with us on I Am Max. Edward can tell you his reasons for wanting to tell the story of Max Linder, but for me, I was intrigued because of how timely and relevant Max Linder’s life is today. In his lifetime, Linder survived death four times only to die by suicide at age 42. And the first time he survived death, he was an infant, roast in an oven. It was the doctor’s attempt to cure him of cholera. He survived so much and achieved so much, fame and fortune, yet it wasn’t enough to bring happiness. He became so emotionally desperate he felt the only escape was suicide. His story touches also on that fine line between mental illness and genius which I find fascinating. Mental illness, depression, suicide, they’re each timely topics today, especially in the United States. His story touches on issues we see with Marilyn Monroe, John Belushi, Robin Williams…and it was all happening at the turn of the 20th Century. Also, the issue of celebrity and identity is relevant. Linder, who was born Gabriel Leuvielle, created this public persona called Max Linder. And then became Max Linder! This is a story of identity, and maybe even of personality disorder. Who was Max Linder? Who was Gabriel Leuvielle? And if they are two sides of the same person, then his life becomes a wonderful exploration into that complicated thing called the human psyche.

And in today’s world where social media makes everyone a Max Linder, that is to say a celebrity in their own world, a discussion what it means to have a healthy public life might be one that audiences would like. We’re excited to tour with our movie and have these discussions with audiences. I think it could be a helpful contribution to the public dialogue.

Now, on top of that, there’s the story of cinema history. Linder contributed so much to the history of comedy cinema by either inventing, innovating or at least making popular a lot of what became standard. The idea of a reoccurring character, for example. Before Chaplin developed his Tramp character, Linder was The Dandy, the bon vivant getting into all these jams and crazy adventures episode after episode. He was also Chaplin’s mentor. Chaplin admired his work greatly and considered Linder a teacher. The Marx Brothers, Lucille Ball, so many cinema and television comics tip their hat to Linder’s influence. This in itself is worthy of a movie, but when you add onto that all the social aspects I mentioned, I think you have a story ripe with history, art, and social significance.

How things are going right now?

SF: We are in post production and preparing for a release in 2019, in time for the Venice Film Festival. Also, the movie will be distributed by Canal+ in France and air on TVP Poland, RTBF Belgium, BNT Bulgaria, RTV Slovenia, CT Czech Republic, SVT Sweden, and RTP Portugal.

 

What do you need?

SF: What we need is an angel investor to support us with finishing funds. Our fiscal sponsor is the International Documentary Association, a 501c3 organization in Los Angeles, California. This means that anyone who donates, gifts, or invests with us receives a tax deduction. We need about 200,000 Euros to ensure we complete on time. We are also seeking a well-known film figure to serve as Executive Producer. For this we have approached the office of Martin Scorsese. He would be ideal to present our movie given his dedication to cinema history and preservation.

We are in position to create an artful and entertaining docu-drama. We are using archival footage in a new and creative way. By manipulating archival films, Linder movies, and actuality footage we hope to give an immediacy, as though we are discovering Linder’s life as it happens. For instance, there’s a Linder movie where he is snow skiing and meets a pretty girl. We have put our own dialogue to that footage and re-cut it to look like we’ve captured the moment where Linder meets the woman who becomes his wife. In this way we are dramatizing his life.

What is the broader message the movie wants to give?

SF: In my opinion the movie warns about the trappings of celebrity: the excess and the danger of believing one’s own hype. It’s a story about identity and it questions us about the blurred lines between our public self and our private self. And it’s a movie that celebrates the art of a true comic genius who has sadly been forgotten. If there’s one message we want our movie to deliver it’s this: This is Max Linder!

Story filed by: Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, Pravdareport

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

Steven Fischer’s Sketchbook

December 15, 2017

Some illustrations from the sketchbook of Steven Fischer

Chalkboard drawing for Rocky Run Tap & Grill restaurant chain. copyright Steven Fischer. stevenfischer.net

Studies of male. Copyright Steven Fischer. stevenfischer.net

Copyright Steven Fischer. stevenfischer.net

Studies of cafe patrons. Copyright Steven Fischer. stevenfischer.net

Invented man. Copyright Steven Fischer. stevenfischer.net

Copyright Steven Fischer. stevenfischer.net

Invented woman. Copyright Steven Fischer. stevenfischer.net

Feet study. Copyright Steven Fischer. stevenfischer.net

Invented lady. Copyright Steven Fischer. stevenfischer.net

Study of child. Copyright Steven Fischer. stevenfischer.net

Cartoon Storytelling for Adults of All Ages at Northwestern University

November 30, 2017

Learn the basics of cartooning, storytelling, and creativity. Participants use cartooning to create original characters and personal stories. This course is ideal for anyone interested in the art of cartooning, learning effective visual communication skills, and those interested in taking their creativity to the next level. Our objective is to create and complete and original story with original characters. Make sure your pencils are sharpened; you’ll be drawing a lot!

Six weeks starting January 23, 2018!   Click here for details and sign up!

Call Me Giant

November 17, 2017

Join us January 25, 2018 at Northwestern University’s Norris Center for an intense acting and character creation experience! Click here for details and sign up.

 

Director Steven Fischer leads actors through exercises for Call Me Giant, part of an actor’s intensive character creation experience at McCormick Auditorium, Evanston, Illinois. Photo by Jeff Sweeton.

 

Director Steven Fischer leads acting exercises at McCormick Auditorium in Evanston, Illinois, as part of an actor’s intensive character creation experience. Photo by Jeff Sweeton.

 

Film director, cartoonist Steven Fischer guides actors at McCormick Auditorium in Evanston, Illinois part of an actor’s intensive character creation experience. Photo by Susan Zielinski.

Closing Night, Chicago International Children’s Film Festival

November 6, 2017

Jenny Zumarraga, Analia Chavez, Jury Chair Steven Fischer, Amy Stern at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, closing night ceremony, November 5, 2017.

I am Max shoots in California

October 28, 2017

Shooting I am Max in Simi Valley, California. Many thanks to Regen Wilson Joe Wade Simi Valley Historical Society and Erik Goodrich! http://www.documentary.org/film/i-am-max

Director Edward Porembny.

 

Shooting I am Max in Simi Valley, California.

 

Regen Wilson as George Spoor.