Department: Communication Arts School: Arts and Sciences Campus: Old Westbury
Member of NYIT Since: 1983
From NYIT's Weekly Update:
Don Fizzinoglia is a multi-hyphenate who’s walked the red carpet and worked with stars such as Oliver Stone, Woody Harrelson, Kirsten Dunst, and Lauren Bacall. He teaches cinema studies as well as television and film production and is the creator/organizer of NYIT’s free Wednesday evening film series at the Old Westbury campus. Then there’s Don’s “surreal” life, during which he spends time writing, producing, directing, and editing documentaries, educational programs, and music videos at his award-winning production company.
How has technology affected the way in which you teach and the way in which students are learning the craft? The Internet has significantly reshaped the way in which works are produced and distributed (e.g., YouTube and Web streams). The cost of equipment used to be prohibitive, but students can now make a film of some professional level with relatively little money. Our “Moving Targets” course has evolved into a video blogging class that ultimately results in a television show, which is broadcast on various Web sites (we hope to find a home on cable). It’s a new type of journalism that mirrors the ways in which today’s tech-savvy students communicate.
What is your favorite film genre? Who were some of your early influences and who do you consider to be today’s leading filmmaker(s)? My favorite genre is surrealism and I’ve always loved the films of Luis Bunuel. I admire the work of popular directors such as Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Alfred Hitchcock, and Ingmar Bergman. Filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) and Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler) are certainly ones to watch.
Your production company, Surreal Life Productions, has tackled subjects as diverse as AIDS, hippie communes, the history of U.S. railroads, college sports, and film censorship. What are some of your current and upcoming projects? I’m seeking financing for a documentary I am working on, titled Dreams: The Stuff That Films Are Made Of, which describes the relationship between dreams and the movies. I am also developing a Web comedy series with global appeal titled Occidentally On Purpose—but it’s still a secret!
Most memorable “Hollywood” moment? In 1997, I attended a black-tie gala in Los Angeles for the launch of Carly Simon's film noir CD and the black-and-white film my business partner and I produced for AMC (American Movie Classics) about the making of Carly’s CD. I sat at a table with Dennis Hopper, Rod Steiger, Diane Lane, and Darryl Hannah. What an interesting cast of (film and real-life) characters.
What is your dream project? To produce a global event in which audiences in venues such as New York City, Paris, Shanghai, and Amman would simultaneously screen a classic (for example, Casablanca or Citizen Kane) and then discuss how the film has affected perceptions of the United States. I think it’s important to keep these type of movies in the pop consciousness for this and future generations because of their value not only as art but as history, sociology, psychology, and anthropology. You’d be surprised how many of our young students have never seen The Graduate!