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Old School New School, A New Documentary

Steven Fischer

Snag Films has released Old School New School, an educational documentary on the nature of creativity.

The movie explores the mystery of creativity with a cast of artistic heavyweights including celebrated actor Brian Cox (known for standout work in King Lear, X-Men, and Manhunter – Cox was the first to play Hannibal Lecter), innovative jazz pianist McCoy Tyner (Four-time Grammy® Award winner and pianist for the John Coltrane Quartet), and six-time Oscar® nominee William Fraker (the cinematographer who created the memorable photography of Bullitt, Rosemary’s Baby, WarGames, and Tombstone.)

In the movie, an independent filmmaker (me) questioning how he can realize his full creative potential travels the United States in search of answers. The journey takes him into the lives and homes of some of today’s most accomplished and illuminating artists. Their conversations explore three central themes: finding one’s voice, risk, and the definition of success in the arts. 

Old School New School is produced by Diane Leigh Davison and me (an Americans for the Arts member and two-time Emmy Award® nominee). We are actively seeking venues nationwide for screenings and panel discussions on the nature of creativity.

The goal is to engage audiences in a discussion that explores how a person can tap into his or her full creative potential. These events are ideal for students of all artistic disciplines (ages 17 and up), young professionals in the arts, university or conservatory students, and anyone interested in tapping into their personal creative brilliance.

As a producer-director, I feel that Old School New School is an extension of many teas and coffees taken with artist- friends and mentors over the years. We’d meet at a cafe and talk about essential truths. Mr. McCready, who appears in the movie, is one such mentor. For years we’d have tea in his little stone cottage and talk about life and art and philosophy, why things happen the way they do, why people are the way they are.

My personal drive to advance my own knowledge motivated much of the decision to produce the movie, but making a movie about high-minded ideas comes also from my deep concern for what I consider a demise in the American art scene.

Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the amount of public talk about people and events. I think we in America could use more discussion about ideas.

My feeling is that the arts have traditionally received the short end of the stick. Public television, for example, is in a real crisis right now and we are in danger of losing a very worthy outlet for intelligent programming. That’s appalling!

I have felt for a long time that our national priorities are backwards. Things that are sweet and good-natured get mocked while degradation and cynicism are celebrated. Yes, there are good things happening in the American art scene, but sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the superficial and mediocre. Old School New School is my contribution to what I hope will become a national discussion on something that I feel is very important: the healthy development of the American arts.

Viewers can watch the 33-minute movie for free at

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