BOONE, N.C. — Dr. Craig Fischer, professor in Appalachian State University's Department of English, is bringing his love of film to the Boone community through his unique film screening series called Toy Sheep Microcinema. Following a successful debut on September 1, Toy Sheep is gearing up for two more evenings on Friday, October 6, and Friday, November 3, coinciding with the Downtown Boone Development Association's First Friday Art Crawls.
According to Fischer, Toy Sheep’s mission is to make available—for free—movies and moviegoing experiences that are defiantly non-mainstream. "Our beat is a weird beat," he added.
The inaugural event in September saw an overwhelming response. Within a few minutes of opening the doors, a crowd of 70 eager film enthusiasts filled the basement of "Awesome Space," a collection of businesses located at 743 West King Street (the businesses include the 641rpm record shop, run by Travis Reyes; Huzzah! Books, run by Jason Wallace; and Boone Area Community Radio). Ultimately, many people were turned away due to limited seating. Attendees were treated to a screening of Jodie Mack's "Dusty Stacks of Mom: The Poster Project" (2013, 41 minutes). As described by Fischer, "Dusty Stacks of Mom" is "an ambitious-yet-playful combination of 16mm stop-action animation, documentary, abstraction, and rock opera, as Mack tells the story of the rise and fall of her parents’ poster and postcard business."
Fischer earned his Ph.D. in English from the University of Illinois. He joined the App State Department of English in 1998. Fischer's teaching and research specializations include comics and graphic novels, film history and theory, and experimental and art cinema. This semester, he's teaching several film studies courses, including "Survey of World Cinema, 1895-1950s" (ENG 3171), "Studies in Film Genre: Horror" (ENG 3175), "Film History 1950 to Present" (ENG 3500), and "Film Theory and Criticism: 'Bad' Movies" (ENG 4170).
Outside of the classroom, Fischer invests much of his time sharing his passion for film with both the campus and local community. In addition to the Toy Sheep Microcinema, Fischer co-organizes the Greenbriar International Film Festival, a series of free film screenings held in the Greenbriar Theatre in App State's Plemmons Student Union, along with Department of English colleague Dr. Leon Lewis and Dr. Whitney Bevill and Breanne Crumpton of University Libraries. This semester's three films are organized around the theme “For the Love of Movies,” focusing on moviemaking and moviegoing. Like the inaugural Toy Sheep Microcinema screening, the first screening of this semester's Greenbriar Festival was crowded.
"I think people are hungry for more culture, for spending time together," shared Fischer.
Fischer invites all film enthusiasts to attend the upcoming Toy Sheep Microcinema events on October 6 and November 3 in the basement of Awesome Space. On October 6, Toy Sheep promises another unforgettable experience with a screening of "The Unknown" (1927, 50 minutes). Directed by Tod Browning and starring Lon Chaney, the silent thriller-chiller will be accompanied by a live soundtrack played on the Lyon & Healy folk harp by local musician and horror fan Teagan. Additionally, the event will begin with the first "Cine-Talk," featuring App State film studies students—and perhaps Fischer himself—sharing their favorite single shots from horror movies.
The doors open at 8 p.m. and the shows begin at 8:30 p.m. Seating is very limited, so early arrival is recommended. This event is open to the public and free, though donations are gratefully accepted.
About the Department of English
The Department of English at Appalachian State University is committed to outstanding work in the classroom, the support and mentorship of students, and a dynamic engagement with culture, history, language, theory and literature. The department offers master’s degrees in English and rhetoric and composition, as well as undergraduate degrees in literary studies, film studies, creative writing, professional writing and English education. Learn more at https://english.appstate.edu.
Written by Madison Breedlove
Edited by Lauren Andersen
October 2, 2023