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