“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

Mike_Edited copy

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