“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 – Love & Community in the Aftermath of the Orlando Shooting

Written by Panorama resident, Mike Turner. June 2016

Flag Flies at Half Staff for Orlando_June  2016Like everyone else around the world I was shocked, angry and numbed by the violent events at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. It is hard at times like this to know what to do, what to say…

Though everyone is touched by such events it hits a little harder and closer to home when the group that is being targeted is one you belong to.

Once again I have to congratulate and thank the residents and executives of Panorama for again doing the right things. My husband Jay and I received numerous emails and personal comments of comfort from friends and neighbors who wanted to express their concern and sorrow.  They were much appreciated.

President Obama ordered that all federal buildings and embassies around the world  lower the American flag in honor and respect for those who died or were injured in Orlando. I was so glad to see that the American flags here at Panorama were also lowered.  They didn’t have to be, the order was for government buildings only.  Mr. Di Santo made the decision to lower the Panorama flags as well.  I went to his office and thanked him for the heartfelt and deeply appreciated gesture.  His response was a simple “of course we did”.  A simple, noble and appreciated response.

I have said it and written it over and over again about how special and caring everyone here at Panorama is. This was another on my list of why we enjoy our life here.  People care and are not afraid to show it.

Though terrible situations like this happen and are difficult to stop, it is always nice to know that when/if they do, you have an entire community that comes to your aid in words and deeds. And sometimes that is all you need to get through your sorrow and pain.

Thank you Panorama!

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A Resident’s Perspective – It Was All About Cars and Caring

Written by Panorama resident, Mike Turner. August 2015

On Saturday August 15th Panorama held it’s first Car Show. What a treat! Jean Jacobsen and Grace Moore from Lifestyle Enrichment did a bang up job of a show presenting new and vintage cars for Panorama and local residents alike. To be honest though, Jean was getting a little nervous on Friday when the torrential rains were looking a little ominous. Car show guys are just not in the habit of bringing those bright shiny cars out in the rain.20150815_121130_resized copy

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Photo by resident Charlie Keck

The Show had two parking lots full of cars. A great band, Pumphouse, that played songs we all knew and some danced to. The Car Show had all the extras we love; fun T-shirts, a raffle with great prizes and of course food. This time the food was provided by food trucks! There was an Asian fusion and Mediterranean style offering, with my favorite being the dessert truck….elephant ears. Had never heard of them, had them and will be back for them.

The show was an overall success with lots of residents and local folks out with their kids. However I think there were some special moments.

Like one of the car owners saying he doesn’t go to many car shows where the spectators say things like “I remember when my family got one of those cars when it was new.” “We had that car when I was a kid.” “That was my first car when I was in high school.”20150815_121432_resized

One of the real special moments was when the show participants took their cars for a parade around Panorama as they left the show. The parade route even included a trip through the C&R parking lot so the residents in the nursing facility could look out the windows and see the cars. What a nice gesture.

For one of Panorama’s residents the show was particularly sweet and more than a little nostalgic. Frank Alberti of Holladay Park showed his 1917 King automobile. Incidentally the year the car was “born”, so was Frank. After many years of working on it, showing it off and taking the neighbors for rides, it was time to let it go. Frank sold his baby to an Air and Car Museum in Oregon where they not only display their exhibits but keep them in running order and have shows of their vintage planes and cars. The car went to a nice home.

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Frank Alberti and his wife Reta pose in front of their 1917 King Motor Car just before it was loaded up for its trip to the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum.

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Residents Mike Turner, Jay Felzien and Frank Alberti pose with Frank’s 1917 King Motor Car on the morning of Panorama’s 1st Car Show.

Frank and his wife Reta were surprised, proud and excited when they learned that the car had been voted BEST IN SHOW. But as we know life sometimes throws us curve balls or in this case a gas line leak. As Frank was taking his car to the fair early Saturday morning, the gas line sprung a leak. No gas, no moving. And here is where the “care” portion of the story comes in. We know how the Panorama staff looks out for us, provides great service and really care about our welfare and safety. Well who knew that care included some AAA service? When security and some of the Panorama staff found out about the situation they were on the spot providing a very long push to the Auditorium parking lot to make sure that Frank’s car was in its special place when the show opened. I spoke to Frank about that and showed him the pictures that were taken. He said he thought the one with all the guys pushing reminded him of the Iwo Jima statue with the Marines hoisting the American flag. Good eye Frank. 2

Panorama Staff give resident, Frank Alberti and is 1917 King a push to the Car Show.

Panorama Staff give resident, Frank Alberti and is 1917 King a push to the Car Show.

UntitledWell here’s to another great Panorama program! See you around campus.

Mike Turner

 

A Resident’s Perspective – Kids Today

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Written by Panorama resident, Mike Turner. May 2015

Do you ever get tired of watching the news and hearing over and over again about all the bad things happening in our schools?  School shootings, drugs, low educational scores, bullying, cyber-bullying, and all the other things reported that give us pause about young people, about what they are thinking and doing.

Well there is a very large bright light at the end of the tunnel.

Recently Panorama and the North Thurston School District had a joint program here at Panorama.  It was a sort of “thank you” from the district to the Panorama residents for their support of local schools, school activities and general community involvement.

There were 3 parts to the program:

The Superintendent of the District, Raj Manhas, spoke about the state of the local schools in terms of financial stability, test scoring, future school sites and site upgrades and his philosophy of how the teacher/student relationship is being handled.  The audience found the presentation positive, informative and gratifying to hear.

The second part of the program was a set of musical programs by local middle school students; a jazz group and an a cappella singing group.   I have to say these students were not only remarkably talented for their age but were also kind, polite delightful kids.  They were respectful to the Panorama staff working with them, they followed directions to the letter, and were very responsive to the staff with “thank you’s”, “your welcomes” and “yes sir/so sir”.  Not like any of the kids portrayed on the news.

My favorite part of the program was the Intergenerational Discussion Panel.  The panel consisted of 4 Panorama residents and 4 high school seniors.  I was privileged to have been the moderator for the discussion.  The purpose of the panel was to bring together people of different generations and discuss the similarities and differences of their high school experiences that has a spread of more than 50 years.  The questions touched on a variety of topics: Jobs Dress Codes and Trends, Curfew, Bullying etc.

I must say I expected more differences than similarities in the discussion, but found that there was quite a bit of agreement on the topics discussed.  Of course the clothing trends were a fun trip down memory lane and provoked a giggle or two from the teen panelists who were seemingly amazed that people actually wore poodle skirts.  Then the real laugh came when Bill S (graduated in the 50’s) shared a memory of a group of girls who chose to wear pants to school one week, which of course was not allowed, girls wore dresses only.  The boys were so taken aback by this statement that they decided to make a statement of their won by wearing skirts to school, which almost got them expelled!

As the questions kept coming and discussion carried on, many striking differences were revealed. For instance, while one student shared that her high school has a Gay-Straight Alliance Club that fosters acceptance and open discussion about sexual identity, a resident panelist replied with a story about how, as a teen, she didn’t even know what the word “gay” meant; “people just never talked about it.” On another topic of great differences, bullying was described as “no longer physical” in today’s schools. Children continue to be put down and verbally abused by their peers but there is a lot of support offered and it’s simply not tolerated. This was in great contrast to the memories of years ago when bullying was “just the way things were…it wasn’t considered ‘wrong’ and no one dared say anything about it.” Although, at some schools, student athletes were encouraged to step in and protect a fellow student who was being bullied.

At the end of the program I asked the group if they had any questions for the other panel members.  There was one:  “What do you think of old people?”  To a student, they agreed that they liked older people, that they had great stories to tell, their experiences were interesting and helpful to the students and that older people had lived long enough and had enough experiences in life to not worry so much about what others think, they just say what’s on their mind with confidence and self awareness.

One last question was “What do you consider old?”  The first answer brought down the house with laughter.  The answer given was 40!  One wise young man replied “Old is a state of mind. Like, I can just tell by your shoes that you’re not old” he said as he pointed to the shoes of a resident panelist.

These 4 high school seniors were at ease with the panel, the questioning, they were bright, funny, driven, knowledgeable, well spoken and intelligent.  Their contribution to the panel was outstanding and gave the audience a wonderful view of high school today.  They too were nothing like the kids reported in most news stories.  It was heartening being part of and hearing about their lives, opinions and experiences.

I ended the panel discussion with the statement, “I guess we can feel pretty good about our future.”   I think everyone in the audience agreed after hearing our panel discussion.

So the next time you are watching the news and it all sounds so bad just remember that for each of the kids going in the wrong direction there are so many more that are on the right path and will do great things.

Mike Turner

A Resident’s Perspective – Christmas Present or Christmas Past

Written by Panorama resident, Mike Turner. December 2014

Recently a busload of Panoramans went to the 5th Street Theatre to see the Broadway musical “A Christmas Story”.  This delightful musical is based on the 1983 film of the same name and is a, wait for it, wait for it…. a story about Christmas.  Both the movie and the musical have a narrator that takes you through memories of one of his most memorable childhood Christmases.

On the way home, Jay and I discussed the show and some of our Christmas memories.  Here are some of the ones from the movie and musical, not that we had these particular ones, but they are certainly a spring board to memories of Christmas as a child that look so differently after so many years.

  • The pink bunny suit pajamas sent to the 10 year old boy from the aunt that thinks he is a girl.

 

  •  The turkey dinner that fails horribly….this time because it was eaten by the next door neighbor’s dogs.  Don’t ask…rent the movie, it is hysterical.

 

  • The little brother getting dressed for a cold winter school day in a snowsuit that makes him look and walk like the Michelin man.

 

  • The longing for that special Christmas present that just won’t go away.  In this case it’s a bb gun that his mother won’t buy for him because “you’ll shoot your eye out”.

 

  •  The essay that always had to be written before Christmas vacation….”What I want for Christmas.” 

 

  • That trip to the department store on Main Street to stare at the Christmas displays of toys and the inevitable sitting on Santa’s lap to tell him what you want.

And all those other wonderful memories we have of Christmases past.  Everyone has them.  The childhood memories that after all these years have those faded, blurry edges and seem so nostalgic and fun.

I’m certainly not saying don’t love and appreciate your present Christmas experiences since they become those soft, heart touching ones in years to come.  I guess what I am saying is it’s sometimes nice just to sit back, think about and relive those memories, even the ones that perhaps weren’t so good at the time because now they are all soft edged, just a little hazy, and the not so happy memories are always not quite as bad looking back on them. And most of all they feel so good to remember.

Have a wonderful Christmas and share a childhood Christmas memory with someone.  You will be amazed at the conversation it will start because we all have them.

Mike Turner