Born in April of 1966. Grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. Went to public schools. Started playing around town in bands in 1980 (drums & guitar, mostly punk bands). Started making films in 1983. Started college in 1984, studying film, broadcasting, and recording (dragged it out and didn't graduate until 1992). Spent too many years working at radio stations, video stores, gas stations, restaurants, and construction sites. Moved into an old funeral home in 1991 - turned it into a movie theater in 1993 - moved out in 1998. Started a film festival in 1997. Taught film studies at Johns Hopkins University for a semester. Got a real job in 1998 ("AV-Geek for the State"). Left the real job in 2000 for a career working for film festivals and doing freelance film/video/music/writing work. Stepped down from the film festival career job to pursue filmmaking fulltime. Went broke. Started a day job in 2014.
Currently; continues to live in Baltimore; continues to work for various film festivals; continues to release recordings, play live and occasionally tour with bands; continues to make films & videos; writes for underground film and music magazines; works freelance for a bunch of film festivals; doesn't eat much meat to speak of; and enjoys cats.
Hobbies include taking over the world very slowly.
2010 BIO: Skizz Cyzyk is a Baltimore based writer, musician, former radio disc jockey, and award-winning filmmaker. Since 1983, he has completed more than 50 short films & videos including the documentary, LITTLE CASTLES: A FORMSTONE PHENOMENON (1997), the animated shorts, FOUR FILMS IN FIVE MINUTES: A TRILOGY (1992) and MANAGER’S CORNER (2004), plus music videos for Beach House, Young Fresh Fellows, the Moaners, Meatjack, and many others.
He is currently in various stages of production on documentaries about Rev. Fred Lane, Alice Donut, the Catonsville Nine, and a 1981 “music war.” He founded and ran the underground film festival, MicroCineFest (1997-2006); served as Programming Manager for the Maryland Film Festival (2000-2009); was a technical supervisor and projectionist for the Atlanta Film Festival (1998-2006); serves on the advisory board, jury, and technical crew at Utah’s Slamdance Film Festival (1997-present); serves on the advisory board and jury at Alabama’s Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival (1999-present); and is an annual juror for Tennessee’s Indie Memphis Film Festival. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Maryland Lawyers for the Arts. A veteran of Baltimore punk/underground bands like Berserk, Trud, Blister Freak Circus, Burried Droog and Slug Log 3, he currently plays punk rock ukulele for The Go Pills, and plays drums for both The Jennifers and Garage Sale, as well as for Mink Stole & Her Wonderful Band. Cyzyk earned a Bachelor of Sciences degree from Towson University, majoring in Mass Communications, with concentrations on film/video/audio production, radio, and film history/theory/criticism.
from Insound.com's "Featured Directors" pages
During Skizz Cyzyk’s senior year of high school in 1983/84, he was bitten by the filmmaking bug as a result of reading fellow-Baltimoron, John Waters’ book, “Shock Value” (which he read more than any of his assigned reading for school). Using the only equipment he had available to him at the time, he made his first film. It was a 35mm slide show mockumentary about a stuffed rodent’s rise to global power.
The following year Skizz began taking college film classes and making Super8 shorts. In an effort to get his films seen by an audience, he programmed the films of his and his classmates as opening acts at punk rock shows he set up.
Filmmaking quickly became Skizz’s way of encompassing all of his passions into one (visual arts, storytelling, and most of all – music). His 1988 16mm debut, BAD ALIENS FROM ANOTHER PLANET, incorporated his animation, his music, and his ideas (not to mention, all of his friends) into an Ed Wood homage about aliens coming to Earth in search of Pez Candy refills. It became an underground cult hit: being widely dubbed & circulated, and popping up on public access cable TV shows all over the world.
From there, Skizz branched out, refusing to be pigeonholed into one type of filmmaking or shooting format. He made music videos, documentaries, experimental works, and narratives, all on Super8, 16mm or ½” video. Skizz learned to incorporate the value of friendship through collaboration into his projects too, as many of the same people (Bean, Meatpole, Todd Seltzer, Karen Coker) remained dedicated to his vision for years, keeping his projects alive and fresh, and giving him the encouragement to continue doing things his way.
In 1992, he completed FOUR FILMS IN FIVE MINUTES, a 6 ½ minute collection of three animated shorts. The 16mm film has shown at more than 100 film festivals worldwide, winning a dozen awards along the way, including the Grand Prize at the Golden Shower Film Festival in Texas, and a Student Academy Award from the Academy Of Motion Pictures, Arts & Sciences. The New York Underground Film Festival, after giving it a 2nd Place Animation award, picked it for their Best Of NYUFF: Year Two videocassette, released by Film Threat Video. Lollapalooza programmed it in their inaugural film-tent during their summer ’95 tour.
In 1993 - out of school, out of equipment access, and strapped for cash to make films -Skizz temporarily put filmmaking aside. Instead, he turned the living room of the former funeral home where he lived into a microcinema. For many years, The Mansion Theater was home to Baltimore’s underground film scene and a favorite stopping place among touring filmmakers. The film screenings at The Mansion eventually evolved into MicroCineFest, an annual underground film festival dedicated to showcasing off-beat, substream, psychotronic films that display big ambition on little budget.
1997 saw the completion of LITTLE CASTLES, a 3-years-in-the-making 16mm documentary about a peculiar detail of Baltimore architecture known as Formstone. One of the highlights of the production came when Skizz was able to shoot an interview with his earliest, and most important filmmaking idol, John Waters. (Waters gives the best sound byte of the film: “Formstone is the ultimate; it’s the polyester of brick”). Unfortunately, troubles between Skizz and the film’s producer resulted in Skizz walking away from the film once it was finished. The film received great reviews, won some awards at a few film festivals, and showed on Maryland Public Television, but has mostly gone unseen despite the expected film-festival nepotism associated with well-connected filmmakers.
And talk about a well-connected filmmaker! Skizz has managed to parlay his film-exhibitor tendencies into a part-time career working for other film festivals. Year after year, he can be found running the projectors at Slamdance, The Atlanta Film & Video Festival, and Alabama’s Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival. He’s been on the advisory boards for The Johns Hopkins Film Festival and the Maryland Film Festival. He’s been a judge for Rosebud, The Short Attention Span Film Festival, Slamdance, Sidewalk, the Towson Media Arts Festival, Artscape (Baltimore’s Festival Of The Arts) and the Washington Psychotronic Film Society’s Psycho Awards. Aside from being a featured filmmaker at many festivals, he has also been a guest of honor at festivals including Liverpool, England’s North By Northwest Film & Arts Festival.
Film stuff aside, Skizz has enjoyed success with his other “hobbies” as well. In 1989, he was awarded “Baltimore’s Best FM Disc-Jockey” for his cutting edge radio programs on the now-defunct WCVT. He has toured and recorded with many bands over the years, including Garage Sale, Dirty Sanchez, Blister Freak Circus, Gill, The Kicksouls, The Shadowmen and Berserk, who Go Metric! Magazine called a “criminally underrated pop-punk band”, and whose self-titled, debut album helped launch New York’s Go Kart Records on the road to being the punk Goliath it has become. Berserk’s single, “Giant Robots” was a college radio hit in the early 90’s.
These days, Skizz is busy working for a living, while also running MicroCineFest, playing in bands, writing for the underground film magazine, Cashiers Du Cinemart, and going to film festivals. He has jumped aboard the DV filmmaking bandwagon as a way of staying, as he describes it, “affordably productive”, and has several different projects in development & production at any given time.
-Mike White, Cashiers Du Cinemart
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