PROFILE 2024: From Ironton to Hollywood

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 10, 2024

 Mickey Fisher’s love of movies led to writing, producing career 

 A lifetime ago, a young boy sat through a screening of “Star Wars” and had his mind blown by the space epic at the Midtown Cinema 3. 

Years later, he got to work on his own space epic with a some of the biggest names in Hollywood as a writer and producer. 

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Mickey Fisher grew up in Ironton. As a six grader, he saw one of the annual Ironton High School Senior Showcase that gave him a love for the theater. He got leads in school plays and acted on the stage of the Paramount Arts Center 

After graduating in 1991, he headed to the University of Cincinnati and was in the College Conservatory of Music program. During summer breaks, he worked at Jenny Wiley Theatre in Prestonsburg, Kentucky as a performer and a writer. 

Eventually, he discovered that he preferred the writing side of theater much more than the performing side. 

“I could sit and write for 10–12 hours and it was the better than acting,” Fisher said. 

After four years of college, he realized he would have to be there for at least another year to get all the classes he needed to graduate. After a discussion with his folks, he left college and headed to New York. There, he wrote what would become his first movie screenplay, 2004’s “The King of Iron Town,” which followed a 30-year-old man decides to enter The Iron Masters King of the

Fisher set the movie in Ironton, since the film could be shot in and around his hometown.

In 2006, he wrote and directed “Summer Nuts” about a Midwestern theater troupe who, in the spirit of plummeting ticket sales and community involvement, decide to join a softball league with a team named the Summer Nuts and it turns out they are pretty much the worst team in the history of softball.

The movie is based on personal experience. Fisher and other acting friends at school decided to form a team called “Hot Summer Nuts,” Fisher said. “And we were the worst team ever. We lost every single game.”

“Summer Nuts” had its premiere at the Midtown Cinema 3 in Ashland, Kentucky, the same place Fisher caught “Star Wars,” “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial,” and “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

After that movie, Fisher continued to do short films and began talking with his girlfriend about moving to Los Angeles and seriously pursuing a Hollywood movie career.

He made the move in 2011 because he wasn’t meeting the type of people in New York that could get him to the next level.

“When I was working in New York, I wasn’t meeting a ton of people who were in the film world or had the connections or the commitment to break into the movie world,” Fisher said, adding he didn’t want to be on his deathbed and look over his life and feel like he didn’t do enough because he hadn’t moved to LA, where the majority of the movies were being filmed at the time.

He and his family and his girlfriend packed up their vehicles and moved him out to Santa Anna, California where his girlfriend was going to attend grad school.

Fisher dedicated himself to learning how to write television scripts.

“I had the dream of making the big sale, selling a big television script or a big movie script, and reaching a wider audience,” he said.

He entered a writing contest called TrackingB TV Pilot Contest with a TV pilot script called “Extant,” about an astronaut spends 13 months alone in space and finds out she is pregnant.

The winner of the competition would get the script into the hands of managers, agents or producers to see if they wanted to make it into a TV show.

A couple months later, Fisher got a call that he hadn’t won, but although he had come in second place, the contest runners liked the script and wanted to shop it around. It ended up in the hands of a manager, who started sending it around town.

“It kind of went viral,” Fisher said. “That’s the dream, it was

 being read all over town.” 

To celebrate his 40th birthday, Fisher and his girlfriend went to Universal Studios to have a day of fun and ride the rides. While there, his phone starts blowing up with emails from a manager saying they would like to set up a meeting. 

“And I thought it was great, I was finally going to have a manager,” Fisher said. “I’m getting off a ride and thinking that this is crazy, it actually has happened.” 

While on the tram tour around the studio, Fisher was excited to see the offices of his childhood hero writer, producer and director Steven Spielberg, the man who made so many of his favorite childhood movies. 

Then, just two weeks later, Fisher found himself sitting in the Amblin offices and meeting Spielberg who wanted to produce “Extant” as a TV show. 

“It seems magical to even talk about it all these years later,” Fisher said, adding it was great to talk to the Spielberg. He said he found him inspiring and not jaded at all. He recalls being struck by the fact that after years in Hollywood, Spielberg was still happy to talk about all the details of story writing and making movies. 

“He was genuinely kind and funny,” Fisher said. “I thought even if I have to move back to Ohio tomorrow, I could say I sat in that man’s office and I had conversations with him about Stanley Kubrick and George Lucas and making this movie and that movie. That would have been enough. At that point, I would have felt like I had won.” 

A deal was struck and Amblin TV made a deal with CBS to make the show. 

As for the casting, Halle Berry decided to take the lead role on the TV show. 

“I certainly dreamed of working with someone like Halle Berry, but a very practical part of me just wanted to be a working writer. I wanted to be able to pay my bills and tell my stories,” he said with a laugh. “So for it all come together was shocking.” 

The show aired its first season in 2014 and Fisher was credited as the series creator and wrote the script for six episodes over its two-year run. 

“I had hoped it would have gone longer and there were ideas we had talked about that I thought were interesting and enjoyed seeing them change during the process,” Fisher said. “We had a lot of ideas where it could go. But it was impossible to feel anything but enormous gratitude that it happened at all. I’m pretty lucky it happened at all. It’s a special thing.” 

After “Extant” came to an end, Fisher continued his space voyage by becoming a writer on the NatGeo TV show, “Mars.” 

“‘Mars’ was a really interesting concept. It was part documentary, part narrative fiction story about the first team of people who will live and work on Mars,” Fisher said. 

He worked on the narrative side of the show to come up with people and stories to take a hard science look at how it could happen. 

He said that the show was produced by Imagine Entertainment, which is owned by actor and producer Ron Howard. 

“So the highlight for me was getting to spend the day talking to him about making ‘Apollo 13’ and brainstorming with him,” Fisher said. “It was the same out-of-body experience as the first time I talked to Mr. Spielberg. It was very cool.” 

He ended up writing one episode and helped craft the narratives for other episodes for two and half months for the first season.

He worked next on “The Strain” and wrote one episode of the modern retelling of vampires.

He didn’t get to meet the famed writer and director Guillermo Del Toro, although he did park next to his car when the show was being shot in Toronto, Canada.

“I think he was there and edited his movie ‘The Shape of Water.” I was on the lookout for him, but I never got to meet him,” Fisher said. He was helping prep episodes as the show was being shot. “That experience was a blast. I got to meet a lot of good friends.”

In between working on “Mars” and “The Strain,” Fisher had written a new TV pilot called “Reverie.”

The show was picked up by Amblin

 Entertainment and, in January 2017, the pilot episode was shot. 

“I got lucky and it was ordered to series by NBC as part of the next season. It was broadcast in the summer of 2018,” Fisher said. “I got very lucky again at getting a second original idea on the air was something I was really proud of.” 

The show had a 10-show season. 

Next Fisher was hired to work for a couple months about “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” on Prime Video and said he probably gets more calls about that show than any of his other works, because so many people see his name in the credits. 

“Which is funny, because it’s the one I had the least to do with,” he said, explaining that he was brought in to be one of the writers because they were short-handed. “They just needed another hand to work on material and be an extra voice in the room. “I had an absolute blast. It was really a challenge to do something outside my comfort zone in a Clancy spy series. But I love that show. It was one of the ones that I watched the first season and was blown away but what they did.” 

After years of doing science fiction shows, Fisher said he remains a fan, but he wants to head in a new direction. 

“Now I’ve been doing sci fi for about 10 years, so I’m trying to branch out with some straight drama and crime fiction,” he said. “I’m trying to widen my world.” 

But would he turn down Disney if they called him up to work on one of their Star Wars projects? 

“No. I would be there immediately,” he said with a laugh.