2022 brought the filming and premiere of the tv series Tulsa King to Oklahoma.
Guess who I saw on my tv last night!?!?!?!
My business partner Don Krejsek is in the premiere.
How cool is this!
He has worked so many gigs these last couple of years, and his movie career is taking off (in front of and behind the camera)!
It is super fun to be along for this ride, and he is so kind to include me and share in his career and movie activities.
So…when you watch Tulsa King – and Stallone’s character arrives at the Tulsa airport – Look for Don. He’s the tall man in the cowboy hat, kinda a little to the left in the shot.
Don‘s acting career is taking off like a skyrocket. The last two years, he has booked gig after gig after gig. Two weeks ago, he had acting gigs on three different productions.
This week, he booked a gig. He needed to go a day ahead for covid testing. We had been talking about wanting to go out and celebrate a milestone of the number of views on the Chisholm Trail – Past and Present video.
So, he booked the gig. We left at 8am. Got to the covid testing site at 9:51. They open at 10. We wait and wait and wait. And wait some more. You are supposed to stay in your car. It’s drive thru. We wait some more. They test two people from two other cars. But, for some reason, they looked at our car (the only other car there) and just disappeared. So, we were there 28 minutes.
There is a sign there, that has a phone number where you call them to say you are there to covid test.
Finally, we got done. Whew!
Most of my movie work of late has been office/promotion/sales/business papers. That doesn’t make for interesting blog posting. But getting to road trip with Don, even for one day, is super fun.
Went shopping, then went to lunch.
When you are in OKC and you want to celebrate. Where do you go?
We both got a chicken fry. I can’t tell you the last time we went to Cattlemens. It is sooo worth it. But, we aren’t the only ones who like it. Guess who else likes it? Just guess.
Don submitted for a gig and got invited to submit a video audition. Luckily on this one, we had a whole week to produce this. But due to other commitments on other days of the week, we needed to get our part of the submission produced in about a day and a half.
Our friend Mark Klein has a really nice place. It occurred to me to ask if he might allow us permission to film at his place. There would be minimal setup on our part, and we’d have room to move around and work. Mark, bless him, said yes.
Mark has worked on moviemaking in the past, so that’s why I took the chance and asked him this time. He told me stories of when he and his friends were shooting movies on 8mm. You had to send the film off to be developed. And wait for it to come back. You didn’t even know what you had till days after the shoot.
This is digital filmmaking. Each format has its strengths and weaknesses. But for us to be able to shoot a scene, then look at it and make adjustments immediately – for that aspect, I am grateful.
Don did all the setup and planning and math and figuring and angles, blocking, scene setting. Everything. It is a dinner table scene, and he needed to play against people, even if they were not interacting in the scene. Mark agreed to help, sitting in the scene, and giving Don something to act off of.
What’s my role in this gig? Cinematography.
Oh yeah. Someone needs to read the other actor’s lines off camera. And time them to the scene. I did not do a good job.
Don did. With minimal information, he turned this scene into a SCENE. He found ways to act that I never would have thought of.
It’s pretty amazing to watch.
This is Don. On so many of the headshots we take and submit, he is stoic. This is the real him. He is always laughing and smiling.
Chisholm Trail – Past and Present is a documentary about the 2017 cattle drive to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail. It is produced, directed and edited by Amanda Ball and Donald J. Krejsek.
There are a lot of behind the scenes stories and still photographs on this blog. Search the September 2017 archives.
Don and I had a blast out on the trail. We are thrilled and honored to be included in this slice of history.
The list of drovers can be found at the movie’s IMDB page.
When you are a filmmaker, you have to make many, many decisions. One of the decisions was…what do we do about the music?
Do you use old time songs that are in the public domain? Do you record new material but make them sound old? Do you use entirely new modern material? I was discussing this with my Dad, and he said, “All I can think of is Momma’s song.”
My grandmother, Mattie Belle Keenon Ball, passed away in 1979. When my Dad was in Vietnam in the 1960s, he purchased two early model reel to reel tape recorders. He took one overseas. The other he gave to his parents. They used these early tape machines to send letter tapes back and forth. Only one of these tapes survived. And on this tape, both my Granny and my Granddad talked and told my Dad stories. On this tape, my grandmother sang the song to my Dad that she had sung to him when he was a boy.
“When the work’s all done this fall.” The song itself is in the public domain. The fact that we have this recording that was made by my grandmother, over 50 years ago, makes my heart runneth over. (And makes my eyes puddle up.)
Don has been working as an actor on a movie for the last five months. When that wrapped last week, we were on the hunt for the next acting gig.
We found a great project and put together a submission. And he was invited to make a video audition.
Now…it was late Friday when the notification came through. Deadline is 4pm Monday.
And we have to create this whole self-tape video audition from scratch.
If it was a matter of getting the sides, recording the vid on a phone, and uploading, that would be easy. But in this case, he had to choose a character, perform its sides, put together two improvs, edit all the segments into one vid, and then upload. That is gonna take some time.
Part of our equipment is at his house. Part of the equipment is at my house. He came by Saturday morning to pick up equipment, in case he got enough of the planning done in order to work Saturday night.
On the last movie he worked for, they shaved his moustache. I am like—can we go take some quick pics. Out the door we go. And the memory card wasn’t in the camera. I had less than 30 minutes before I had to leave for work. Needless to say…rushed photography didn’t give me too many good pics. But we got the one below.
Don mentioned trying to film at a bar that one of our friends owns. But I kinda freaked out. We are on such a tight deadline. And all the computer equipment is at my house, and who knows how this will go or what we will need. I said I wanted to work at my house. Could we meet 10am Sunday? He said that was fine.
All I can think about is – the limitations of my house. Small rooms. Bad lighting. Angles. Once we get vids, how much batch conversion am I gonna have to do? What output settings will work for the finished upload?
Don and I had a phone conversation somewhere in the middle of this rushed madness, and I asked what his plans were? He was working on the issues of…what character(s) to audition for? What monologue? How to play the monologue/set it up/perform it/sell it/nail that punchline.
And me…being on the technical side of this equation – since I am only the director of photography and editor…totally forgot what it is to prepare an acting performance.
Don has to do ALLLLLL the thinking on this one. He has to pick his improv monologues, write the lines, set the timing, get the props, rehearse it, revise it, ACT IT…and all in less than 48 hours.
I am exhausted even thinking about doing that amount of work in such a short turnaround.
5:30 am Sunday. I am wide awake, still computing angles, worrying about lighting, worrying about the computer settings for my responsibilities on this gig.
7:45 am Sunday. The power goes out!
We are on a deadline. Hopefully the power will come on soon. The wind is low. Could we possibly compensate by filming outdoors? At least I won’t have to worry about the lighting in my house!
So, I text Don, who texts back: “Crap!”
He gathers equipment and comes to my house.
And…luck was on our side…the power came back on before 10.
I had set up my music room to use as a possible studio. I go to hunting for my lighting rig. Can’t find it. I don’t remember seeing it for awhile. Don is already on his way. When he gets here, I ask if he happens to have our lighting rig at his place. Oh yeah…he does. Too late now!
I ask what is the plan?!?!?!
He likes to joke with me. There is a place when you are working at the top of your highest level of mental function – concentration is complete. And he can say words to me – things that have nothing to do with the project at hand – and I have no room for any outside distractions. He would say something like, “A bomb could go off next to Amanda, and she wouldn’t notice.”
But this time, the tables were turned. I was setting up camera and microphone and adjusting settings. And I said something to him, and he was all…”Shut up and let me think!” I had to chuckle.
We ended up turning my living room into a pseudo pub!
And it is showtime!
Every single take, he is a different character. He played six, count ’em, SIX characters in this audition. I have watched this man act in real life for the last couple of decades. He will tell a story and “become” that person in the story. Then he can switch it off, and go to a different tangent.
His acting talent floors me.
And here we are – doing this on camera – trying to get him a role in someone else’s movie. With less than 48 hours notice, he created six characters, figured out their motivations, speech patterns, timing, beats, and HE SOLD THEM ALL!
Then it is time to do my work.
I get the footage into the computer and into the editing software. And I start putting it together. And I realize I misjudged the sound. The video was reasonably okay – considering our location constraints and limited time. And you have to make a bunch of technical decisions very quickly.
And I misjudged the sound. But you can still hear Don, and my mistake didn’t detract from his acting. I told him what I had done. (And I am pretty sure neither of us has the energy, nor internal fortitude to shoot this again.) We sure enough don’t have the time to work this another day. I ask him if he is okay with going ahead and using this footage, even with my sound mistake. And he said yes.
I edit as quickly as I can. At this point – when we know we are not going to shoot it again, I said that if he needed to leave, it was okay with me. I knew he had a ton of work to do in his personal job. (To the extent that I had asked, “Do you have time to do acting right now?” Short answer – yes he did.)
He stayed with me through the first render. Again, there are so many technical settings, and you try one thing, then try another.
I said I was going to tweak it and render it again.
Oh yeah…did I mention that we set this up on my day off? And I got called in to work at my day job Sunday evening? DP (cinematography) and editing takes ALL of my brain. When that day is done, my brain is done. And now I have to switch gears, switch modes, and switch personalities and go to my day job!??!?! Can we spell E-X-H-A-U-S-T-I-O-N?
Just what we needed. More reasons to rush. More opportunities to make mistakes!
I did the third render. Decided to use it.
Got the confirmation. Texted Don that it was done!
And we made it 23 hours ahead of deadline!
Now we play the waiting game…
Does he get the gig?
Just a few sky photographs. I can look at one of these and take a deep breath and enjoy the “wide open spaces”.
Creativity has been at a total standstill in my world and in my head. In fact, I had my still camera lost for about six months! Thank goodness I found it.
I miss creativity, but that part of my brain is taking a vacation. When it turns “on” again, then I will be back at it.
I hope you are all well and happy and safe!
This is the last movie we worked as actors.
July 1 starts the new fiscal year for the Oklahoma Film Commission rebate program.
That means, if you are an actor, July in Oklahoma means that there are lots of opportunities to get acting gigs.
So, Don and I start submitting. We knew that we had submitted for a gig for Wednesday. Tuesday I head off to my day job, planning on checking messages on my lunch break and again after work.
When I looked at my phone at 4:30ish, I had a ton of messages.
The casting office had texted us at 12:56pm that we had been cast for the gig. They were sending an email. You had to confirm the email by 2pm.
Yep – that was a whole whopping 64 minute window there.
Don had his phone with him the whole time, and got the text in time. But, the email never came through. And you needed to confirm via EMAIL and he never got it.
I went to my lunch break and contacted them back saying that we were available, and was the slot still open? (Yes, I know it was way later than the 2pm deadline, but I wanted to try.) At that point – (by now it’s after 5pm), we learned that the location was way, way, way further away than we knew.
Don still hadn’t gotten that first email. I contacted them after 5. We both figured that we can kiss this gig goodbye.
At 6:36, we got the confirmation text. We got the job!
We knew we had a massively long drive to get there. We can do it. But I am scared of an early call time, and I have done NOTHING to prepare. Haven’t checked over the car, haven’t gotten cash for the day, haven’t prepared snacks/water/drinks/emergency supplies, haven’t prepared wardrobe, etc.
After we are confirmed on the job, we get an email with instructions. It is all basic stuff, bring three outfits (they told the location of the film’s setting and what type of attire is desirable), no cameras on set, don’t approach the main actors, behave on set, etc. Just basic stuff. And luckily for us, the call time is 2:30pm.
Wednesday we have a time set when we are going to leave. Each of us has wardrobe, emergency supplies, and we each brought snacks/beverages. 99% of the time, production provides water &/or food. But having been stranded on a gig once, without basic supplies, I will do everything in my power to not go through that again.
We stop for lunch along this (very, very) long drive. At least we are fueled up – food-wise I mean. The weather is gorgeous. We have had days earlier this month with massive heat already, but lucky for us, a cool front on Monday took the temperature down by about 20* (F).
Since I couldn’t take pics on set, and I can’t share details, here is my one photograph:
We saw a whole lotta highway on the way to this gig! LOL
We got there early. We found a circle of folding chairs under shade trees. We asked if this was where we were supposed to be?
It turned out to be the best afternoon. Everyone on this production treated everyone with dignity and respect. That goes such a long way towards making an acting job be a good experience. At first they said they might get a trailer for us. But the weather was so nice, and it was pleasant, and our green room was a nice afternoon spent under shade trees. The on camera location was close by. They had great craft services. The business next door opened their restroom to the production. Our basic needs were taken care of.
The best part was the other actors that day. We met some great people. It was fun to hang out and share stories (both acting and non-acting stories). We exchanged contact info. It is great to meet like-minded people who do what we do.
We all laughed – a lot!
For privacy reasons, and to comply with our instructions, I won’t reveal any specific details about the gig. We were released a lot earlier than I thought we would be. It would have been fine if we had had to work late. I was expecting to get home about 4 am. Getting home any time before that would have been nice, and we got home well before that time.
That being said, I was still pretty tired. Don drove all the way there, and most of the way back. (Thank you!)
I hope everyone out there is doing great – and I send you all best wishes as you are out there, too, in pursuit of your dreams!