Tag Archives: Marcus Romer

Special effects in Theatre – design solutions for #LetTheRightOneIn @bovts

26 Feb
Let The Right One In_Mark Dawson Photography_DSC_7608Anna-Kate Golding as Eli – photo by Mark Dawson

One of the greatest discoveries during my last directing project was working out how we could solve some of the key effects required in the production of Let The Right One In.

Spoiler alert – these included hanging a character by his feet: a sulphuric acid facial burn, a character bleeding from every part of her body, a swimming pool murder scene, in which three characters are brutally killed.

All of which needed to take place in between scenes of relative ‘normality’ took place. So this meant we couldn’t have the stage swimming in blood one minute, water the next, and then cut back to the interior of a house with the characters back to a state of un bloodied costume and hair.

So working with set designer Alana Ashley and Costume designer Roisin Martindale we set out to solve these last October and November – before we went into rehearsal in January this year.

We were going to be performing the piece at Circomedia – which meant that our first challenge was solved. They had flying gear and rigging equipment in the grid that would allow us to winch the character of ‘Torkel’ played by Will Fletcher into the air and be able to lower him down again safely and securely.

Let The Right One In_Mark Dawson Photography_DSC_6624Will Fletcher as Torkel photo by Mark Dawson

We decided to explore the use of AV projection, and the lighting designer Joe Stathers hired a laser projector (It was 10,000 lumens Panasonic PT-RZ970 with a 0.9-1.3 lens)

In the rear of the image you can see on the ice and snow mound a great splatter of blood from the laser projector with precision mapping on the mound. ( Thanks to Daniel Harvey for his mapping and AV skills) So with this we knew we could place sharp and precise blood spots and movie files on any location on the set. This delivered not only great effects but also enabled us to solve the blood ‘management’ issue for certain scenes.

Let The Right One In_Mark Dawson Photography_DSC_7816Freddy Sawyer, Beshlie Thorpe, Emer Heatley, Lawrence Haynes, Tom Briggs, Will Fletcher and Oscar Porter – photo by Mark Dawson

Here the blood splatters on the set and on the bodies was clearly visible from the laser projector. In another shot you can see the aftermath discovery with Eli and Oskar at the side of the pool.

Let The Right One In_Mark Dawson Photography_DSC_7785Tom Briggs, Will Fletcher Oscar Porter Shane David Jospeh and Anna-Kate Golding – photo by Mark Dawson

The pool was another design solution that we came up with. The mound opened for the scene to reveal the blue and green light recessed pool area that Oskar (Shane David Joseph) had to get into.

Let The Right One In_Mark Dawson Photography_DSC_7725Will Fletcher, Shane David Joseph, Tom Briggs and Oscar Porter – photo by Mark Dawson

All of the design and structural elements were built and finished by the BOVTS set and construction and scenic art teams who did a brilliant job. The same was true for the costume elements – and below you can see the dress designed by Roisin Martindale and made by Jemima Homer that solved our special effects challenge. In this sequence it  was required that Eli (Anna-Kate Golding) should be covered in blood as her blood vessels under her skin explode and shower blood across her body.

Let The Right One In_Mark Dawson Photography_DSC_7469Shane David Joseph and Anna-Kate Golding as Oskar and Eli – photo by Mark Dawson

This was achieved with the clever use of silk, crocheted wool and material packed under a separate duplicate dress. In combination with movement and lighting we were able to produce this as part of the action in that particular scene.

IMG_4940photo by Marcus Romer

The resulting projection after the scene of the blood dress enable us to leave the ‘marks’ on the set.

The Acid burn face was achieved by building a silicon mask onto a cast of ‘Hakan’ (Freddy Sawyer’s face) and painting it. This was blended with make up and fitted during each show at the interval by the make up team.

Let The Right One In_Mark Dawson Photography__DSC3093Anna-Kate Golding and Freddy Sawyer – photo by Mark Dawson

So a brief overview of some of the techniques we deployed for the show. You can read the 5 star reviews here and here

The show was a real joy to direct and the cast and production team worked incredibly hard to deliver this in the timescale.

IMG_5009 Here we all are after the final performance

 

“I know a film can’t solve the issues of knife crime, but it can start to raise some of the right questions”

10 Feb

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As a director and filmmaker I wrote and directed a feature film that had the subject of knife crime at its heart. Literally.

The Knife That Killed Me was released by Universal Pictures in 2014. It was well received, got a 4 star review in The Times, and it was one of the top ten films of the year in the Huffington Post. It had time in cinemas and at various festivals around the world and it still has a rating of 7.2 on IMDb.

It is available to watch on Amazon Prime and iTunes and if you are old school you can still get it on DVD. The adaptation was based on the novel by Anthony McGowan which is also available.

I have seen this film in movie theatres across the world, and on one memorable occasion with over 900 young people in Rome at the film festival, where it received a standing ovation. It will be screened again the year in Norway in Harstad following our successful screening for a young audience at the Arctic Moving Image Film Festival there. You can view the trailer on IMDb.

2014-12-22-knife

The reason for this renewed attention is the rapid increase in knife attacks between young people over the last few years. Now of course a film can’t give any right answers, or solve this very pressing issue, but I do believe that a piece of art can raise the right questions if framed in the right context.

There was a Guardian article by Catherine Bruton about this very topic

“why doesn’t the UK government put titles like Hate and The Knife that Killed Me on the new GCSE syllabus rather than obsessing over Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy? “No one who reads The Knife that Killed Me is ever going to carry a knife – ever. In fact, they’ll probably eat with a spoon for the rest of their lives.”

There are ways that work like this can find a way into the lives of young people. I have spent my career as a director making theatre and film in this area –  in theatres, schools, and public settings. I know that you have to start at the grass roots level and build the narratives that are appropriate for the intended audience. But it can be done. It can work. It can raise the right questions, it can get young people addressing the subject matter in their own way.

The question I always used to ask was, if the result of the work that I make means that just one person decides to not carry a knife any more – then that is potentially one less crime statistic or part of a story that leads to yet another young life lost.

And that is something I believe is worth fighting for.

If you would like to help me drop me a line Marcus@artsbeacon.uk

 

‘Reveal’ – the first ever active reality project #RevealKL

27 Jan

Here is the video of the Reveal project that I worked on last year as Director and Producer.

REVEAL was a Collusion project developed and devised in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, UK in 2018. Directed and Produced by Simon Poulter and Marcus Romer, this is the first ‘active reality’ project of its kind. It encompassed live performances, large scale projections, an interactive game engine, augmented reality and geo-located story elements, that occurred throughout November and December. With new ‘reveals’ every day it became a multi-episodic box set adventure for mobile that unfolded over a period of time, with video clips, augmented reality codes and clues, video projection, and live interventions that happened across the whole town and beyond.

The project was Executive Produced by Simon Poulter and Rachel Drury, with a team of 36 artists working across disciplines. The legacy site for the project can be found at revealkl.com – supported by Arts Council England, Borough of West Norfolk and King’s Lynn, Discover King’s Lynn, Norfolk County Council and the Combined Authority for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Music was specially composed by Sandy Nuttgens, Matmos and Carter/Tutti. Game engine and coding by Richard Hall, Chris Tyler and Simon Poulter. Projections by Joe Magee, Karen Eng, Pete Cleary, Dominic Manning, Pete Cleary, Issam Kourbaj and Yael Biran. The story was devised and written by James McDermott and Marcus Romer, with a new Syrian poem written by Liwaa Yazji.

The Reveal project uses a Creative Commons license – Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike – CC BY-NC-SA . This means that anyone can replicate and reuse the method and structure for the project, within the conditions of the license.

Full credit list:

Executive Producers: Simon Poulter, Rachel Drury
Artistic Producers: Marcus Romer, Simon Poulter
Story: James McDermott, Marcus Romer
Words: Liwaa Yazaji
Script Editor: Kathryn Castles
Social media elements: Maze Media
Actors: Oliver Westlake, Claire Lacey, Rebecca Banatvala, Tim Welton
Research and photography volunteer: Beatrice Bray
Film elements and trailer: Gavin Toomey
Logo and Design: Joe Magee
Costume Designer: Sunny Luckhoo
Artists: Issam Kourbaj, Karen Eng, Pete Cleary, Yael Biran, Joe Magee
Music: Carter-Tutti, Matmos, Sandy Nuttgens
Voice overs: Claire Lacey
Engagement Programme: Michelle Brace, Katy Marshall
Web Development: Chris Tyler
Creative Technologist/augments/back-end developer: Richard Hall
3D Artist: Dominic Manning
Projection Development: Pete Cleary
PR and comms: Becky Wieczorek, Stephanie Lewis
Ground and shop team: Luke Woodcroft, Fynn Pitkeathly, Beatrice Bray
Stage Manager: Lewis Anderson
Production Consultant: Ben Pugh
Production Coordinator: Nev Milsom
Project Assistant: Alex Byford
Lighting Assistant: Alexsandra Kruk
Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk: Chris Bamfield, Mark Fuller, Martin Chisholm
AR.js software: Jerome Etienne
After Effects Artist: Sabrina Minter
Fundraising: Catherine Slack
LiDAR Survey: Mark McGarragh
Drone footage and photography: Matthew Usher

Lord of the Flies – it was 20 years ago today…

7 Sep

Hard to believe when some things pop up in your online feed, but I realised that it was 20 years ago today that I first made the theatre production of Lord of the Flies. It seems like another lifetime ago. But I just wanted to take the time out today to thank all of the actors, artists, designers and teams who helped to make this show happen over the following decade.

Library - 0680The show ran for 6 productions for the next 11 years. We gave over 960 performances in over 60 venues across the whole of the UK – and also as far afield as Bermuda, and Portugal. We were nominated for numerous awards and picked up a fair few along the way too. There were 6 casts and technical teams – but the original crashed plane design by Ali Allen and Marise Rose and the soundscape by Sandy Nuttgens were constant thoughout the whole series of productions.

It put my career on the map and certainly established Pilot Theatre as a leading touring theatre company across the UK.

Even back in 1998 – when the world was a different place, I placed innovation at the core of our work, online resources, free CD’s and DVD’s on the programmes – remember those?

It was great to make a show that made things happen. For me it enabled us to launch the careers for many emerging actors, lx designers, associate directors and stage managers.

Here is the clip for the trailer made by the video company who flew over from New York back in 1999 to make it for us. It was a video trailer for the show. This was years before YouTube was born, but we realised then the power that images, sound and vision could have that could help to develop a new era of audience and theatremakers.

Thanks to all who had a hand in helping to make this happen all those years ago

You’ve got to join the tribe…

Hacking the system and taking the punk approach to live streaming shows

12 Nov

IMG_0756

On Saturday November the 4th at Theatre Royal Stratford East we captured the last two shows from the Graeae tour of  ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’

This has been part of the ‘live to digital’ work we have been doing at the Theatre, and something that I have been leading on over the last year. We have livestreamed work into hospitals, hospices and adult social care homes.

The show is fantastic, and the performers all belt out the songs of Ian Dury and the Blockheads with gusto, verve and infectious energy. It has a punk style and an urgent pace, and has been directed with flair by Jenny Sealey, the AD of Graeae.

We have been supported by The Space to deliver this – and we are aiming to get a release of this on the Cinegi platform in March next year.

It got me thinking, what would Ian Dury have done if he had the technology we have now to do this? I think he would say we need to take a more ‘punk’ approach to this kind of work, and just get on and do it.

We shot the matinee and evening show with 4 cameras on each show. HD cameras that also shoot 4k. They are BlackmagicDesign units and they are tiny. We can capture, cut and deliver work fast, live and in the moment now.

At the moment there are many obstacles in the way for arts organisations to get on board with this. Hurdles of rights, permissions, and legal stuff. All important stuff, but we surely need to find a way to streamline this and push the tech and opportunities forward. Otherwise the default position is always ‘It’s too much like hard work, and it is too difficult’

So if we are to adopt a punk approach, we need to get on with it. To help do this I have put together a ‘how to get started’ with all this, for UK Theatre. This was published on their site this year, and I am now attaching my redrafted version here, which hopefully might be useful.

Let me know if you have any thoughts or ideas about how we might take a more punk approach in the future…

Thanks – here is the guide for you

LivestreamingGuidebyMarcusRomer

marcus@artsbeacon.uk