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App State professor looking to ‘Make Boone weirder’ with film

Taneille Jordan
From left to right; Travis Reyes, Tim Jones, Craig Fischer, Ballard Reynolds, Andy Bellemer, and Ellis Fredrick Nov. 3, 2023

Nestled between the Boone Fire Department and Southend Brewing is Awesome Space, a building that is home to multiple local businesses, and recently, a free film screening event referred to as Toy Sheep Microcinema. 

Toy Sheep Microcinema was started by App State professor Craig Fischer. The goal is to reach the larger Boone community and share what Fischer refers to as “unusual movies.” Most recently, on Nov. 3, Fischer screened a series of music videos by a group called Extreme Animals. The screening was followed by an hour-long performance from Deep Watauga.

“There’s a lot of things that happen in the High Country that are really cool,” Fischer said. “You always hear people say ‘Keep Asheville weird.’ Well, I want to make Boone weirder.”

Macaulay Brumbelow, a senior electronic media major, wrote a short essay about their favorite horror film, “Possession,” that was put in the program for the Oct. 6 screening, where a 1927 horror film, “The Unknown,” was shown with a harpist there to play music along with the movie. They’ve taken Fischer’s classes since their sophomore year. 

“Craig has done a lot of unique things and will continue to do unique things. I love it, it’s right up my alley,” they said.

When Brumbelow was asked what they define as a weird movie, they said, “Anything that goes against the grain with what we typically see as cinema in America. Things that make you go, ‘Oh?’ and leave you confused.”

Microcinema is helping to give Fischer his chance to make Boone weirder and leave people confused through the use of cinema. The term refers to a place that temporarily shows unusual and experimental film.

Travis Reyes (Left) introduces Craig Fischer (Right) to the audience. Nov. 3, 2023.
(Taneille Jordan)

During Toy Sheep’s first screening on Sept. 1, 40 chairs were set out and filled within the first five minutes of the doors being open. Fischer went looking for more chairs and set out as many as he could and allowed some to stand. He ended up turning away what he guessed to be 30 or 40 more people. 

He enjoys working with Awesome Space, having a friend who owns 641 RPM, a record store that is one of the businesses in the space. Fischer finds that he and Reyes share a similar hope for Boone. 

“Travis has been incredibly open and generous with that space, and I want to help him build that scene,” Fischer said in reference to both Reyes’ business and making Boone weirder. 

While he’s not planning on expanding to a bigger space, he is choosing to do multiple screenings for the piece of media he chooses. 

On his Instagram, Fischer describes his most recent screening, called “PSYCHOLOGY TODAY,” as “propulsive electronica with a flurry of images that chart the birth of anxiety in our childhood selves, our thrall to television and social media, and our desire for transcendence in a debased world.” This was the last screening for 2023, as Fischer notes that he has finals to focus on. 

This is not the end, however: his first 2024 screening will be on Feb. 2. He says he has also committed to March 1 and April 5. He says that he knows what two of those screenings will be, but wants to wait until the spring semester to reveal what they are. 

Elle Smith, a senior English major, wrote an essay on her favorite movie for the Oct. 6 screening and is a student of Fischer’s.

“It’s something the community really needs. There is a magic surrounding cinema that can’t be recreated at home, something that can only be experienced live, with other human beings,” she said about Toy Sheep’s success. 

Fischer said that the name for his event comes from a Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. In the story “The Lamb and the Pinecone,” Neruda talks about a little boy giving him a toy sheep through a fence. Neruda went home and painted a pinecone to give to the boy as a form of trade. 

“In some ways, that Toy Sheep was that kid’s gift to the universe and he turned Pablo Neruda into a poet,” Fischer said. “This is just my gift to the universe.”

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About the Contributor
Abigail Eggers
Abigail Eggers, News Reporter
Abigail Eggers (she/her) is a freshman journalism major with a minor in Spanish. This is her first year writing for The Appalachian.
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Comments (2)

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  • R

    RosalieJan 23, 2024 at 11:21 am

    Such a well-written article! This Abigail Eggers seems very cool.

  • J

    JordanDec 1, 2023 at 10:47 am

    Craig is one of the best professors at App. It makes my heart happy that he is so involved with the community, keep making Boone weirder!