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.
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.
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.