“A Dying Industry” TV Movie – An Artist’s Perspective

Written by Panorama resident, Mike Turner. November 2016

In the last blog, I wrote about the new adventure Bill Lange and Panorama are taking in doing TV movies to be shown on PCTV.  Here is an accompanying piece on the differences experienced by one of the actors in doing theatre and TV.

I have done a number of theatre plays over the years.  I thought this TV project would be something very new for me, something I never had the opportunity to try and I wanted to see what it was like and what I could learn.  Boy was it new and boy did I learn some new techniques needed to act for the camera.

First of all, I have the ability to what I call “get it to the back row” or projecting.  Projecting isn’t yelling or just talking loud.  It is more the force of voice so that everyone in the audience can not only hear you but hear the emotions of the character as well.  I quickly learned that I needed a new way of speaking and projecting for the camera.  As it was conveyed to me, “Mike, you don’t need to project for the theatre audience, there’s a microphone 3 feet above your head.  We can hear you.”  I needed to get the emotions conveyed not so much from only my voice but from facial reactions and more subtle tones.

Then there are close-ups.  No close-ups in the theatre.  Theatre acting is bigger, TV acting must be smaller, more intimate for the audience and more subtle.  Everyone has their own personal space, you know that space when “invaded” by another person starts feeling awkward.  Well when doing a two person close-up for TV, that space is definitely invaded.  This isn’t two people talking on a large theatre stage.  This has to be two people talking in very close quarters to fit the TV screen.  Amazingly you can get used to it.

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In theatre you rehearse the entire play in sequence for weeks and then comes the one opening night where it has to be perfect.  With TV, every scene you do has to be an opening night and perfect.  There is some rehearsal and blocking for a scene and then it is recorded….”the opening night”.  Each scene is recorded more than once and usually out of order.  We recorded the first scene of the play on one of the last days of production, while the first scenes filmed were the middle scenes of the play.  This made memorizing interesting and each scene needed to be filmed a number of times with the exact emotional and physical parts of the performance matching each other.  This was because for one scene it is recorded as a long shot showing the entirety of the location of the scene, then again closer to film the actors in the scene and then recorded again as a close-up for each actor individually in the scene.  In our case with three actors, each scene was recorded 6 times with each recording having to match perfectly with the previous camera set up.  That’s six opening nights just for one scene.  Not complaining, it was great fun and an interesting new skill.

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One last thing.  I found out quickly how important the crew and technicians are in the making of a movie.  In the theatre, lights, sound and stage are set on opening night and don’t change much, if at all.  For TV, all these things change every time you do a new shot.  They are the ones that make it happen and many thanks to these wonderful people.

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I hope this has given you the idea on what is new going on at Panorama for our residents.  I also hope you watch our play when it comes out, as well as coming out to volunteer for our next production.

Here are just some of the people who helped put this all together.   See any friends or neighbors?

Script Writer                         Martin Waldron

Producer                              Bill Lange

Director                                Bill Lange

Lighting                                Don Whiting

Sound                                  Don Whiting

Script Supervisor                 Nancy Luck

Sets                                     Ralph Dodds    Maurie Laufer

Props                                   Beth Dowsley

Camera                               Roger Roberts

Wardrobe Consultant          Karen Shanower

Make-up                              Claire MacPherson

Actors                                  Lu Hamacek    Helen Spalding    Mike Turner

Assistant Director                Mary Eberling

Technical Support               Ray Johnson

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“A Dying Industry” TV Movie – In the Beginning

Written by Panorama resident, Mike Turner. November 2016

IN THE BEGINNING….of television that is, there were three networks and some local programming.  Not many choices at the start.  But some of the choices were very powerful and very well done.

Do you remember Playhouse 90, Colgate Theatre, Texaco Star Theatre, Kraft Television Theatre, Alfred Hitchcock Presents or Twilight Zone?  All of these shows were half hour or one hour narrative television or television plays.   These were original screenplays, sometimes written by famous writers of the day.  They told one complete story each week, not a series of related stories.

Well this type of narrative television is coming to Panorama!

Bill Lange, a Visual Storyteller here at Panorama, has taken up the project of producing and directing narrative television.  You might know Bill from his Artist’s Profile series on PCTV.

Bill has been involved in video and photography work for sometime, but has always had the dream of doing narrative television.  Bill has started to live that dream.

Bill contacted the Olympia Film Collective, a group of South Puget Sound directors, producers, lighting and sound people, camera operators and other technical positions.  It is a group of people who just have the love of making movies.  He asked for their mentoring and advice and was welcomed enthusiastically.  Bill also contacted Thurston County Media (TCM) or TCTV as it was called, for advice and help as well.  These are the same people who now mentor and aid the PCTV studio and crew.  They were also enthusiastic about the project.

The plan was to always have Panorama residents be the producers, directors, crew, technicians and actors for the project.  To that end Bill had a number of introductory meetings with residents to take the temperature of interest for this project.  Each meeting exceeded Bill’s expectations in attendance and interest.

The next step was the most important.  In real estate the saying is “LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION”.  For a play, movie or in our case a TV play it’s “STORY, STORY, STORY”.  Everything starts with a story but it is almost impossible to obtain the rights to produce previously created material.  And we were working on a very small budget (read that as zero budget).  Luckily for us the Olympia Film Collective came to our rescue.  Part of their organization includes a group of writers.  They offered to write a TV play for us.  It actually ended up being three plays that were offered with minimal licensing costs, right in our budget.  Since this was our first foray into this type of movie making, Bill did ask facetiously that there be no car chases or explosions.  They obliged.

The biggest hurdle had been jumped, we have a story.  Then the call went out to Panorama residents for volunteers for the technical positions and actors.  All technical positions, lighting, sound, continuity, sets, camera, props were quickly filled by interested Panorama residents.  A call for actors went out and auditions were held and the cast was chosen.  The technical positions had great help in learning these new tasks they had volunteered for from both the Collective and TCM.  They were there to train and mentor our people and stayed with us in the studio or were on call when needed.  This could not have been done without their support and understanding.

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We now have a story and the people but where to record it?  Aren’t we lucky that Panorama has its own TV studio?  Bill, a member of the TV Team, met with the PCTV group and shared his idea.  Bill asked to share the limited PCTV studio space.  They were enthusiastic about its possibilities and their ability to include the finished tele-play in the scheduled broadcasts they show on PCTV.  Now we have the where.  With some help from the Barn, the home remodeling department and the woodshop volunteers, we were able to obtain props we needed to build a living room and kitchen set.  These were built in the PCTV studio in such a way that regular Panorama programming could continue as well as our filming.  It’s tight but worked like a charm.

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Now the recording is done and Bill and the post-production crew are in the process of editing our first Studio 370 Playhouse TV play “A Dying Industry”.  I won’t give away too much but it does involve a murder (or two).

As I mentioned “A Dying Industry” will be shown on PCTV but TCM was also interested in showing it on their station as well.

If all goes well and there is an ongoing interest in making more TV plays we still have two more waiting in the wings to be produced.  When the final editing is completed and we have a show date, look for the announcement of “A Dying Industry” on PCTV and the Bulletin.

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A Resident’s Perspective – What Are We Missing Here?

Written by Panorama resident, Sandy Bush. Photos by George Bush. November 2016

Over the years (3) that we have been here, we always get the strange question: “What are you missing here?”  It follows closely on the heels of “what do you NOT like about living at Panorama?”

We’ve not found anything we do NOT like about living here at Panorama, so that is easy to answer. What is harder is what might be missing?

Administration has worked and is working hard to provide us with a pleasant and safe community to live in. There are so many opportunities for learning in retirement, exploring the great South Puget Sound area, meeting fellow residents, enjoying free movies and classics, ease in accessing restaurant/meal service, pharmacy, library and multitude of crafts,  workshops and affinity groups. A big amenity is the exercise and pool complex. Fitness equipment lives in most of the buildings and many of us have our own.

But, what is it with those stairs………. We’ve realized what I call “elder code,” for lack of a better descriptor, has eliminated stairs. Only a few living arrangements have stairs internal to them. The tall apartment building and both Chalet and Chinook have stairwells, but also sport elevators to accommodate residents with mobility issues.

What has been fun for us is climbing the 5 flights of stairs in the south or north stairwells that empty out on the 5th floor of Quinault building. On a clear day, Mt. Rainier is in all its glory from the north set of stairs. Some days the cloud cover, rain or fog engulfs our mighty neighbor to the east. But sometimes at sunset on a clear or partially cloudy day, the alpenglow of the west side of Rainier is just spectacular. Sometimes lenticular clouds seem to tease the peak and sometimes the peak is poking out above the land fog. We have so many photographs, that we have quit taking them. Last week, after a nasty day of rain, a peculiar yellow light appeared at dusk and Mt. Rainier sported a giant and bright double rainbow between us and it. So very special.

Sandy Bush - Mt. RainierMt. Rainier in Alpenglow and clear day view from 5th floor Quinault

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Most of us can’t see Rainier due to tree growth in surrounding communities, so we use the stairs to treat ourselves and give us a destination. Why? Well, about 6 months ago, we decided we need the stair climb to help invigorate heart muscle and lungs.  It is a cardio workout of sorts, not unlike what our gym-users strive for on the equipment here in profusion at Panorama.

Being a scientific type and lover of graphs and spreadsheets, my guy fashioned a grid to sign up if you DO climb the stairwell. There is a place for name and blanks to put in dates and numbers of flights climbed. We thought it would be fun to log what we do. Then we found that many other folks were actually signing in to the clipboard that holds the months tally on the top-most railing in both stairwells.

We also thought as part of general fitness that is promoted here, it might be interesting to J. Leyva, our fitness coordinator. So, at months end, we take the sheets to her and she has been keeping a tally. It is like walking to Indiana or New York by counting your steps or some such in a recent fun exercise program.

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 Logging in at south stairwell

The biggest caveat to this is wearing our SARA buttons and knowing what our heart and lung status is. Another important thing to consider is it might be best if you have a buddy with you. None of us should over-do exercise. But working up to more flights over time will help heart health. Some residents we have talked with find climbing the flights best but then take the elevator back down. Balance issues and leg strength are both important to consider. Others we have “run into” on the stairs take the elevator up and the stairs down by their doctor’s suggestion. Railings are available and should be used.

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Wishing you some happy views of our magnificent campus and to the east, the mighty Mt. Rainier!!!

Sandy Bio

 

A Resident’s Perspective – Autumn Leaves

Written by Panorama resident, Bob Bowers. November 2016

This morning I sat reading the Olympian in our sun room.  There was no sun, of course, because it is usually dark outside at 6:30 am—especially since I turned the clock back Saturday night to comply with the time change. My body complained to me: “You know it is really 5:30, don’t you!” I don’t make the change as well as the clock!

When light began to illuminate the lawn, I noticed that the great old broadleaf maple tree was 90% devoid of leaves. Rain and wind during the past week had quickly loosened the huge leaves.  The diligent work of the grounds folks dispatched the leaves into piles with a blower and then into trucks to be hauled away.  All that was left outside was a smattering of bushes at the base of our friend, the tree; a green lawn stretching toward Cardinal Lane; and, above us our friend’s massive bare limbs stretched skyward toward the clouds.

Julia and I missed the leaves.  They’ve been hanging from the tree since April.  We enjoyed them for six months as they appeared, morphed through the stages of their life, turned from green to gold, fell off and were whisked away.  They made a comforting backdrop for our comings and goings from that room.  Our solace is, that, if we’re still here next April our old leaf friends will be replaced by a new fresh crop.  The cycle of renewal, excitement, enjoyment and decline will repeat itself for us next year.

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Bob Bowers - Cactus Flower

Our bonus for this day is that our Christmas cactuses have each one decided that this time of turning back clocks is a time for turning on blooms.  Each of our five hybrid cactuses have burst into huge magenta and pink blooms.  Who cares what time it is!  It is the time to bloom.  What else matters?  And, that’s a lesson for us septuagenarians, octogenarians, nonagenarians, and centenarians (Look ‘em up!):  Life is cyclical. Whatever our age—if you’re an OLD CACTUS—it is the time to bloom!

 

Bob Bowers Bio

A Resident’s Perspective – God Blessed America in Assisted Living

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. November 2016

I was ending my twice-a-month piano entertainment for about twenty residents in Panorama’s Assisted Living day room. A sheet of music slipped from a stack of music on the piano. When I reached from the piano bench to recoup it from the floor, the sheet yelled, “Play me next!”

I held the piece above my head, “We need God’s blessing on America, so I will now play God Bless America. You may simply listen, sing, hum, or pray the song.”

As the first note sounded, fragile gentleman in the back of the room stood as tall as his body allowed. His quivering wrinkled fingers reached for his cap, which he held gently against his thin chest. With his head bowed in deep devotion, he lowered his eyelids.

I wondered whether the faint hum floating around the room was from him.

Finally, the ending, “…Ame-ri-ca, my ho-me, sweeeet ho-me.” The gentleman replaced his cap, wiped a tear, and struggled to take his seat.

Everyone was silent. I continued to pack up my music books, but looked up. “Thank you, sir. Thank you for standing for the playing of God Bless America. We appreciate your respect to this patriotic prayer, and it’s not even the Star Spangled Banner.”

Betty, in charge of the entertainment, reiterated, “Yes, John (fictitious name), thank you.”

Asking him questions, we learned that he had flown bomber-missions in WWII. I was admiring one of the last of a few heroes in America from that era.

I pat my good byes on each resident’s shoulder and lastly to the veteran. “Thank you for your service to keep our country safe. We can’t let our grandchildren, great-grandchildren and future generations ever forget those horrible years. I notice the tiny little gold wings on your cap.”

He nodded his head and pointed to his friend in a wheel chair to his left, “This my buddy, Joe (fictitious name). He served in the Air Force, too.

Recognizing the friend’s Veteran cap, I bent down, “I see you have your wings, too! Thank you, sir.

We deeply appreciate your service. We can’t imagine what you two went through to keep us safe. God bless you.”

As I returned back down the first floor of our Convalescent/Rehab Center, I prayed, “Lord God, I place those two veterans and all other vets into Your hands. Help me not ever take them for granted. Please bless our country, despite many times of forgetting You in our daily lives. We have so much for which to be thankful.”

Mary Jo Bio - Test