Tag Archives: directing

Making and directing a piece of #ZoomTheatre across Norway during the #lockdown

8 Apr

Screen Shot 2020-04-08 at 14.19.36Welcome to Radio Harstad…

Harstad is a beautiful town in the Arctic Circle, and I have been visiting and working there every year since 2016. I first went when my film was screened at the Arctic Moving Image Film Festival. I was invited by my now friend and colleague Helene Hokland who is the festival director and who also runs the lovely 1930’s cinema in the town. To screen The Knife That Killed Me – and to do a director’s Q and A. Also to run a workshop for the FHS in Harstad and their drama and performing arts students.

It was here that I was taken to the school at the north of the town, which runs from an enormous building that houses the students and staff. It is a one or two year residential course and the students come from all over Norway. It is a tertiary college and students range in age from 18 – 23. It has a drama and film black box studio, a recording studio as well as making spaces, large communal rooms and the most amazing view across the Fjords.

IMG_5764

The Theatre Director is a wonderfully creative powerhouse and inspiring woman called Hege Fjeld who runs the course and leads the students. She has invited me back every year to work with her and her students and it is an immense privilege to do so. I normally spend a week working and making something with Hege and her students. This year of course is different. All the students are at home under lockdown across Norway from Alta in the very North to South of Oslo – a distance of over 1200 miles and 24 ours of driving. Norway is huge…So over the last week, Hege and I have been working remotely in Harstad and Cambridge and making and directing this piece together.

Screen Shot 2020-04-08 at 14.18.30

So we have spent last week for two hours a day meeting on Zoom and working through a script version of War of the Worlds that Hege has translated. Here you can see one of the students, Embla, presenting as the weather reporter for North Norway where you can see Harstad at 8 degrees on the West Coast.

We rehearsed the students together and individually on the Zoom platform. We used the additional backgrounds tool and were able to add in all the locations we needed for this first part of the project. You can see the Radio Harstad insert via green screen on the picture at the top too.

Screen Shot 2020-04-08 at 14.21.10

We chose the backgrounds carefully to allow the students to be placed in the locations for their direct to camera address. Part of the online rehearsal and work was about getting the light right, and also the capture device at eye level for the actors to rehearse straight down the lens. All too often the image on the screen is who speakers tend to talk to and this is too low for eyelines.

So after rehearsal we were able to then mute and take off screen all the other students and focus on the main speaker. We then used the capture and record button to shoot a take. This was done a few times then the files were then transferred to Hege and the edit suite and studio back in Harstad.

Screen Shot 2020-04-08 at 14.21.39

Some characters were supposed to be in the same location. So again with careful use of a correctly angled background image we were able to give that illusion between the interviewer Karoline Phillips and Professor Pedersen in our shot above.

The files were then edited together and additional foley sound and score were added from the recording studio at the school. We have completed the first part of the project and we have 18 minutes of captured, edited and scored material. We will meet for a couple of hours a day from the middle of next week and complete this piece of work.

It is incredibly rewarding to spend creative time with such talented students, and the learning for all of us has been a rapid curve over the 5 days we spent working.

Screen Shot 2020-04-08 at 14.23.06

The Zoom platform is great for recording – and the sound quality is very good indeed. The image quality depends on bandwidth at each end, and this can vary when the platform is in heavy usage.

The excitement of going for a take is the same as any form of filmmaking or theatre production. It involves focus and concentration and this is undoubtedly a really good training opportunity for the students. This level of focus and discipline from within their own home environments during this time – is the same for all of us.

I have always been excited to explore the possibilities of how we can harness the power of emergent technologies to make connections and creative work happen. From early livestreaming work back in 2008 – through to multiple camera livestreams and making feature films in Green Screen studios. This exploration with Zoom Theatre is part of that journey.

If anyone would like to know more about the process please drop me a line on here or find me as @marcusromer on social platforms.

I am going to leave you with another view of the Arctic Circle with its amazing light and clarity. IMG_5787

Moving on – onwards and upwards

3 Nov
A new landscape

A new landscape

Hi Friends!

Before the press releases hit, I thought I’d take the opportunity to let everyone know that I will be moving on from Pilot at the end of the financial year. Yes—after 22 years as Artistic Director of the company, I’m stepping down to take up some new and exciting freelance opportunities.

I’ve been asked to put together some work highlights from my time as AD for a press release, and I figured the best way of doing it would be to do my usual blog-style thing with a list of stuff, in no particular order, and let you choose what interests you.

I’m proud to be leaving the company in a great financial and reputational position. We’ve secured our second round of Arts Council NPO funding until 2018, have EU-funded projects until 2019, and have built a great team who are creating extraordinary work across the UK and internationally.

So in no particular order….here’s stuff I made earlier, since becoming Artistic Director back in 1993:

  • I directed the first livestream of a theatre production back in 2008, which lead to the 6 camera livestream of the York Mystery Plays for the BBC and The Space. We now lead the TheatreLivestream.TV project nationally

  • Following my first visit to TED in 2007, I created 5 national Shift Happens Conferences which started back in in 2008 and ran to 2013—these led to TEDxYork, which I also curated, and became the template and structure for the Arts Council / British Council’s ‘No Boundaries’ which ran in 2014 and 2015.

  • The 960 performances of the first ever tour of my production of ‘Lord of The Flies’ – which ran between 1998 and 2008 to almost every theatre in the country. We employed 5 different casts in 6 separate productions over the period and won the MTA (Manchester Theatre Award) for best touring production

  • I wrote the script and co-directed ‘The Knife That Killed Me’, the first ever feature film shot entirely on Green Screen in Yorkshire, which was picked up and distributed by Universal Pictures

  • We won the UK Theatre Award for best production for young people, with the first ever adaptation and premiere of Anne Cassidy’s‘ Looking for JJ’

  • I worked with and commissioned new work from the brilliant Roy Williams, then saw that our first adaptation of The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner had a new production in New York

  • I was part of the team pitching for York to win the title of Unesco City of Media Arts—the first city in the UK to achieve such a title, and I am continuing to help steer that project forward with new plans and ideas.

Some more? OK, OK. Some more highlights:

  • Directing the opening sequence of the Bollywood Oscars event in Sheffield—The IIFAs—for an arena audience of 15,000 and a TV audience of 500 million

  • Blood + Chocolate and bringing Slung Low theatre to York to help make this happen

  • Making a show in Buenos Aires 

  • Meeting Susan Hinton, who flew from Oklahoma to York when we premiered the first ever theatre production of her novel, Rumble Fish which had the first ever integrated AV and sound projection on back in 2000!

It’s been a phenomenal job and I’ve worked with lots of amazing people some them at the start of their careers, and helped them on their way to make amazing projects. Thanks to everyone who has been part of the journey up to now.

But all of these things are just work things. During that time I have seen my two children grow up and launch into the world and be creative and brilliant, and I’ve shared the journey with Susie, who continues to go from strength to strength and is now heading up an amazing charity in Cambridge, where we now live. It seems like the right time to take the new freelance opportunities that are coming my way.

I’m going to carry on making new projects and helping to deliver new ideas in a freelance capacity from 2016— so, onwards and upwards. If you’re interested in finding out about work we could do together, just drop me a line:

MarcusRomerUK@gmail.com

marcusromer.com

Oh — The recruitment process for my successor will begin in late November…

observe / assist / do #blogpost #theatre

26 Jun

Operating_theatre_pic

The job I do here as Artistic Director of Pilot Theatre has clearly been informed by my previous work. This came home to me at a recent meeting on our trip to Pilsen when a theatre company raised the spurious point that directors should only be allowed to direct once they reach the age of 35, as before that they couldn’t possibly have the right experience level… After hitting the roof and then coming back down to my chair I outlined my thoughts on this, and to what extent I disagreed with them.

For those of you who don’t know I have worked in theatre for quite some time. Only when I started out – when I said I am going into theatre it meant scrubbing up, wearing green and performing – only this time live operations. On people. In operating theatres… I trained as a dental surgeon and have worked and perfomed surgery in this way. During our training and subsequent working practice the schedule was – You Observe the first operation. You Assist on the second one, and on the third one You Do it yourself. Admittedly this was still in an environment with support and assistance should you need it. After all lives were at stake.

So as a result of this we entrust our lives into the hands of doctors, surgeons, and paramedics who are in their twenties. They are doing this now. How come many organisations don’t do this with their trainee directors? …Because this is what we still do at Pilot Theatre on our productions. Our Associates work as an observer, then assistant and the third show they make themselves. After all this is not a matter of life or death – and as we all know – the only way to learn.

Which is why in Pilsen, Tom Bellerby (23) made the show, he last assisted on Romeo and Juliet and prior to that he observed The Fever Chart in his final year at Central It is why he is directing Letter to the Man from the Boy at Edinburgh this year for Pilot Theatre too. He will also be staff director on tour for our Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner this autumn.

So I said this very calmly and then sat down.

Observe / Assist / Do …it doesn’t just work for theatre…

Working on the R&J script for @pilot_theatre

14 Jul
Photo

In my office at home with a ruler and pencil and on paper in a folder, with pictures on the wall stuck on with blu-tac

Today I am an #oldschool theatre director

🙂