Wow, where did the time go?
We opened to a very happy audience on My 17th and wrapped our final production of The 39 Steps on June 2. Between the NAB trip, generally trying to get the show up, and a lot of work for TPC, I've just been up to my eyeballs in it since my last post. As it is, I didn't have time to even put these thoughts down until a week after we closed while relaxing in a hotel room just outside Amsterdam (work thing - don't ask), at which point I realized I had taken all the pictures off the computer since the show had wrapped....So now that I've finally had a moment to breathe, lets look back over the last few weeks/months/whatever:
Short post this week, though I could write a lot about what we've gone over and worked through, some of that would spoil the show, and we wouldn't want to do that. So anyway, we're now two weeks into our rehearsal process. So far we've just been working through the script via table reads. Its a longer set of table reads than I normally would do, but with 40+ characters played by only 4 actors, I wanted to really take the time to focus on finding the voices of all these characters. And at this point we're pretty close to being "there" and its been a fun ride so far.
So last week we held auditions for The 39 Steps at CCCT and this week we jumped right in and began rehearsing. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you probably missed my first "production blog" entry - check it out here.)
Auditions - especially for a volunteer project at a community theatre - are always exciting to me for a variety of reasons:
For starters, because its a volunteer project there's always this slight, little fear that no one will actually show up. Right up until I was looking at all the talented actors that came to audition, I had that little voice in the back of my mind: What do you do if no one comes? What if you end up being forced to cast someone who can't handle it because you didn't get enough people? What if no one shows up at all?
So this has been a busy week, not that that's a bad thing necessarily, but sometimes you have so much going on its hard to decide what to focus on and this past week has definitely been one of those:
So before we even get into the work week, last weekend Aeryn and I took a semi-last minute day trip up to San Antonio (a 4ish hour drive away from Houston for those who don't know Texas) and by the time you account for the drive, it was a little exhausting, and I slept most of Sunday, but we had fun. We spent the evening on the riverwalk and had dinner before driving back - and while we were waiting for our table, I took the opportunity to play with my iPhone in the low light of the riverwalk at night:
If you read this blog regularly, you probably already know that my next significant project is that I’ve volunteered to direct The 39 Steps at Clear Creek Community Theatre. With my auditions coming up in the next week or so, I’m really starting to get ready for this show. Its a fantastic blend of cinema and theatre and I can't wait to dive in.
Something I've wanted to play with for a while now is writing a behind the scenes "Production Blog" as I work through a project. So what better place to play with that than my own blog? I'm going to try to get back into posting regularly again in general, and while most of my new posts will be BTS on 39 Steps, I will still write about other smaller projects as I work through them, and other film/TV related things. (If nothing else I'll have a pile to write about from NAB when I go in just under a month!)
Even though I haven't even held auditions yet, I'm really excited to be working on a project of this scale again. The last project I directed was the short film Behind the Door for Houston's 48 Hour Film Project in summer 2017, and the last stage show I directed was No Sex Please, We're British also at CCCT in spring 2016, (which I did while still working on the last season of Stop The Threat!). But anyway back to this...
I've been very busy the last couple weeks, and yet I feel like I've done so little - strange how that works out. Probably just a side effect of winding down from a larger project and going through the holidays. I have worked on a few little things recently, one of those being promotional photography for Agatha Christie's Verdict - check it out:
I hope everyone had a safe and wonderful Holiday and New Year - now we're a few days into 2019 and life can start returning to normal. Lets see if I can find the time to get back into my personal projects - including this website and the blog - so lets get caught up on the last few months and dive right in:
Wow, where did the last part of 2018 go? It's just been a bit of a blur, you see - the week after my last blog post (October 19th) I began working basically non-stop on Border Live on the Discovery Channel in the role of "Field Technical Supervisor". Actually we did a test run back in September, but then I shifted back to other projects until everything came together. In October they sent me out to one of the locations on a scouting run to make sure things would work, and then starting in November I was traveling down to the border basically once a week until we got up to the holidays. Unfortunately I can't go into much detail behind the scenes, but basically my role in the production was to make sure that the video from the field teams made it back to the main studio on the east coast in the highest quality possible.
So I spent every show (including multiple full scale rehearsals) watching the action play out in little preview thumbnails accompanied by real time encoding data - bit rate, packet loss, latency, etc from each of the cameras. In a way it kind of felt like staring at the code for the Matrix, watching all these different things happen at once. Of course I had some remote control to jump in and make minor tweaks to settings to keep the video signals streaming well. (Or as well as can be expected given the cellular environment at the border.) All in all, it was a great experience and I learned a lot, but needless to say it was a lot of work and when I was back in Houston, I was basically catching up on sleep and supporting other projects at TPC. (With a tiny bit of theatre work thrown in at CCCT).
So much for getting back in to weekly posts...
As some of you know, I've been very busy the past month or so. Clearly, its been harder than expected to find time to write a weekly blog post, while also juggling multiple projects at work, volunteer projects I committed to at CCCT (sorting out the blank gun for the show and lighting - more on that below), decorating for Halloween, and still leaving time to relax now and then. And yet, so many of these projects are either in various stages of completion or aren't sharable for one reason or another, that I also haven't had all that much to talk about.
Here's a couple recent ones I can share though:
The other day, I edited an updated reel for an actor friend of mine, Jesse Merrill. One of the projects we decided to include in his reel is an episode of Stop the Threat that he was in, "Crime Spree" (one of my favorites) - you can check that out here:
Short post this week, as I just realized that I'd never shared the final versions of the scenes from Titus Andronicus that I edited from the performance recording done at Clear Creek Community Theatre in 2017.
For any new readers, last year Clear Creek Community Theatre selected Titus Andronicus as it's 2017 Summer Shakespeare production. It was directed by my brother Robert Leslie Meek, and I made an awesome teaser trailer for the show (which you can check out here). During the final weekend of the show, we recorded the whole show from beginning to end with three cameras (a Sony Ex3, a Sony F3 - borrowed from TPC - and my Sony A7s recording 4K into my Atomos Shogun Inferno).
Unfortunately the music rights the theatre has for live production don't extend to distributing recordings of the show, so the full production is only available to the cast and crew of that show. However, I was able to pull some really great scenes from the edit and have packaged them up as individual videos on CCCT's YouTube Channel.
I've embedded the ones we've pulled below - please enjoy (if enjoy is the right phrase to use for Titus)
Short post this week - I posted my SHOUT! teaser video to a mobile filmmakers group I'm a member of on facebook and got into a conversation about the Movi in the comments - shortly afterward Simon Horrocks of the Mobile Motion Film Festival reached out to me and asked if I would be up for writing a post for their website, so that's what I did with this week's "blog writing" time.
As you may have noticed over the last few months worth of blog posting, I was quietly agonizing over which mobile phone stabilizer to buy myself when it was finally time. I finally settled on the Movi, and this article sums up my main reasons for that. Click the image above to read it or you can check it out here.
Thomas Meek is an independent filmmaker living and working in Houston, TX