Film Forum

I Heart Film: Jill Fisher and Keith Seaman

Keith Seaman and Jill Fisher are longtime sponsors of Fresno Filmworks, especially the Fresno Film Festival and Oscar-Nominated Shorts events, where Keith has most-likely taken your photo.

What do you do for a living and how long have you lived in Fresno?

Keith: We have a commercial photography business here in Fresno. We had a studio downtown until this past March after having been in it for more than 30 years. We have evolved into a creative team. We do a lot of food photography, environmental portraiture, and some product pieces. I was born in Hanford and was raised in Visalia.

Jill: I’m from Cleveland, Ohio. We met many years ago when both of us were living in Los Angeles. Afterwards we lived in San Francisco, followed by Keith’s hometown of Visalia. We finally moved to Fresno in 1977 and have been here ever since.


How do you both support Fresno Filmworks?

Jill: Our business donates to Fresno Filmworks at the end of each year, as a membership for us. However, what we love doing is the event photography for the screenings as a sponsor.

Keith: We do the Fresno Film Festival and have also done the Oscar-Nominated Short Films screenings. They’re all really fun.


How were you both introduced to Fresno Filmworks?

Jill: We’ve been going to Fresno Filmworks screenings for years. We feel lucky to have Filmworks. We are impressed with the caliber of the festival especially.

Keith: They bring some quite remarkable films; some of our favorite films in recent years.

Jill: Then when our friend Joy Quigley, who is a board member, got involved, we felt even more connected to it and she pulled us into it.

Keith: We met Joy and her husband, Dr. Peter McDonald, through our friend who is a freelance producer in San Francisco. She told us about her filmmaker friend Joy who was moving to Fresno from upstate New York because Peter was going to be the new dean of the Henry Madden Library at Fresno State. Joy contacted us and so we met at a fabulous Mexican restaurant that used to exist across from our studio, Fajita Fiesta. We gave them a list of great things about in Fresno and definitely mentioned Filmworks.


What are some of your favorite movies or memories from Fresno Filmworks?

Jill: During one of the Fresno Film Festivals we saw Le Quattro Volte (2010) and that is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. It’s about nothing and it’s about everything. The other movie that I absolutely loved, and that I wouldn’t have been able to see if it weren’t for Filmworks, was Mustang (2015).

Keith: The matchup of Fresno Filmworks with the Fresno State CineCulture film series with professor Dr. Mary Husain, another Filmworks board member, is a wonderful relationship. She helps bring in students and younger people to Filmworks.

Jill: I would love to see more young people attending and involved with Filmworks.


How did your love of film come about?

Jill: When I was a little girl in Cleveland, my cousins, siblings, and I would be allowed to go to the Saturday matinee when we were good. I can remember sitting in that theater and being transported to another universe.

Keith: I had a similar experience at the Visalia Fox Theatre where I used to get dropped off with my cousins. The Grand movie theater used to be on Main Street when I grew up in Visalia and it started up this monthly foreign film series. My friends and I went out of curiosity. Seeing Alec Guinness and Akira Kurosawa movies completely turned my head around. Film is unique in that it is the compilation of so many creative skills and processes: music, art, acting, writing, photography, etc.

Jill: We were also heavily influenced by our friend Alex Tavoularis when we lived in L.A. He worked in the art department for various movies and his older brother is the very successful, now retired art director and production designer Dean Tavoularis, who worked on major films like The Godfather series and Apocalypse Now (Best Art Direction-Set Decoration Oscar winner for The Godfather: Part II).


What are some of your favorite movies or movies that you recommend for others to watch?

Jill: We attended the fabulous 2017 Vancouver InternationalFilm Festival (VIFF) this past fall and saw some beautiful films like Call Me by Your Name, The Killing of a Sacred Dear, The Square, Infiltration, Loveless, The Insult, and the Chinese documentary I’ve Got the Blues.

Keith: We recently had dinner with Bob Navarro (a Filmworks advisory board member) and his family. The question of favorite movies came up and Bob, Bob’s son Darren, and I all mentioned the same movie at the same time: The Conformist (1970).

Jill: 2001: A Space Odyssey is still one of my favorites.


What might you say to community friends to encourage them to support Filmworks by attending or by becoming a sponsor or member?

Jill: I think Filmworks is a gem in Fresno. It is a complement to our poetry, literary, arts, and music scene. It’s a cultural offering for people in Fresno who want to get a worldview and we would be so bereft if we didn’t have it.

Keith: I would agree with that. When asked about our favorite things of Fresno, Filmworks is right at the top of our list. It makes the opportunity available to see foreign and small films in a communal setting. Movie theaters are kind of a temple for me where all of us go and venerate the experience of watching film. Filmworks does that and I really appreciate that. And everyone we meet there is fabulous.

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