Ignatius Fischer, one of two Idyllwild CinemaFest 2012 honorees, had one of those off the charts serendipitous launches into the filmmaking business.
Like Quentin Tarantino who worked as a clerk in a Manhattan Beach video rental prior to breaking into the business of movie making, Fischer also worked in a South Bay store when he got “the fax.” “It was a Torrance hobby store,”Fischer said. It was in 1996 when there was a big hiring spree for physical effects in major films. “A fax came in and asked anyone who had experience building models to submit a portfolio to this company in Culver City.” Fischer recounted that he submitted a portfolio, got the interview and the job the same day as the interview.
He started the next day at Vision Crew building the front end of a 10-foot by 4-foot model of a spaceship for the movie “The Fifth Element.” “It was pretty disconcerting that first week,” Fischer said. “They asked if I could use a table saw. I told them I didn’t know what a table saw was. I had never built at that scale.” He went on to build models for “Titanic” and “Dante’s Peak” before digital revolutionized the special effects business.
Serendipity describes much of Fischer’s career arc. Another juncture came after he saw Kevin Smith’s breakout indie film, “Clerks.” “I had been a writer as a kid. I was still writing short stories [while building movie models professionally] when someone suggested I should write a screenplay. I saw ‘Clerks’ and then I thought, I could make a film. I could make that.”
Fischer began writing screenplays and in 2004 his screenplay for “The Men Who Fell” was put into production. Fischer spent a month on location in Tucson during which time 60 percent of the movie was shot. He describes that as his on-the-set education. Later, having acquired and mastered video editing using Final Cut Pro, he was hooked. “I realized I could do the whole thing. When you make a movie, you’re the ultimate author. I love working with actors, getting everything in front of the camera. And when we’re rolling, that’s the most magical moment of all.”
Like fellow ICF 2013 honoree Gary King, and many other indie filmmakers, Fischer has needed to wear many hats — producer, writer, director, editor, cinematographer, production and even costume designer. His credits attest to the broad spectrum of career facets that have allowed him to work successfully in the industry — in making national commercials, cinematic book trailers, short and feature films, reality television, event coverage, industrial work and web series. “But the core of me, inside of me, is the storyteller,” he said. “But when I write I’m not a stickler for dialogue on the page. I love working with actors and am absolutely collaborative. I’m in awe of what they do and what they create. They’re so cool and impressive. For me it’s like being 12 and playing with my friends.”
It is his just opted fantasy web series, “Freelancers, The Series” that he is bringing to ICF 2013. RogueFlix, a new web entertainment distributor, has just signed an exclusive distribution deal for the first season of “Freelancers.” “I have to deliver five episodes by Jan. 31,” Fischer said. With his background in special effects and his focus and interest in adventure, magic and fantasy, Fischer is planning to film “Freelancers” full out and “for real,” as he says, with stunts and magic. “I’m planning to show two or three at the festival.” He will also be honored as cinematographer for ICF Director Stephen Savage’s new film, “Vertical,” filmed in Idyllwild, the official festival-sponsored feature film.
Fischer is no stranger to ICF, having been featured two years ago as a filmmaker with “Lisl and the Lorlock,” that he produced, wrote, directed, shot and edited. Based in Hemet, Fischer likes to use local actors as much as possible and some Hill actors, such as Ivan Borntrager, have worked for him on more than one project, including his upcoming “Freelancers” series.
Fischer is looking forward to returning to ICF. “I think the festival is wonderful,” he noted. “Close to everything but far enough away and with a very special environment. What’s best about this festival is how easy, as a filmmaker, it is to network. At larger festivals, like Palm Springs [International Film Festival], you can’t just go up to a filmmaker and ask questions. In Idyllwild you can even go have a glass of wine with one. The location and the intimacy of the festival make it very special.”