Driving Question

“How has William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet remained relevant to contemporary storytelling?”

“In fair Verona, where we lay our scene…”

“O Romeo Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?”

“For never was a story of more woe, Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

What do these quotes all have in common? Well, they’re famous lines from William Shakespeare’s arguably most influential play, Romeo and Juliet.


We’re all bound to stumble upon this piece of literary genius at least once during our lifetimes. Whether it be through its many adaptations… like that one weirdly romantic zombie film you watched years ago and completely forgot about… Or by being face slammed into Shakespeare’s writings by your English teachers. 

Romeo and Juliet has left a significant impact on its audiences through the ages and manages to influence so much of our modern media… but why

Welcome to my Xing Fu Tang bubble tea induced writing extravaganza! Today, I’ll be walking you infectious boil-brained pigeon-eggs through the past month and how my obsession in creating an oscar worthy Romeo and Juliet adaptation (in 4 days) has single-handedly ruined it. 

Let’s get started!

It all started in September. That was when I heard we were going to do a Romeo and Juliet project… a film adaptation project.

If you were to know one defining thing about me, it’s my love for all things film. I’ve watched so many movies and shows that they all blend together now. It’s my life mission to work in the industry. 

…and that’s where I made my first mistake…

You see, I started thinking and my ideas became… ambitious. How many different ways can you adapt the “star crossed lovers” genre? I’d been watching film noir movies over the summer, such as Casablanca and the Maltese Falcon, and I decided, “hey, black and white is cool… and I could totally hide the fact that I’m filming in a high school…” And then somehow along the way, ANTI-FASCIST RESISTANCE FIGHTERS” and World War II morse code spy communication devices came into the picture.

By the time the actual project came around, I was excited… REALLY REALLY excited… So excited that it was only downhill from here.

We started by analyzing the original playwright. Very soon into this process, I became aware that I knew literally nothing about Romeo and Juliet, besides a few lines and tRaGeDy. I also learned that Shakespearean is its own language and I was not fluent.

I used to laugh when my mom told me that I’d need some sort of dictionary/translation book for Shakespeare. Turns out, she was right. Never doubt the power of moms… they’re always right…

(Me to my past self)

To give you an example of how strange the lines can get, here’s some of my favourites… (from the first act alone!) 


Let’s just say my friends and I have been calling each other “saucy boys” for weeks now. 

After reading the first act and deciding I couldn’t live like this, I watched the 1996 adaptation Romeo + Juliet. I found the “modern-ish” setting and the acting alongside the original lines very helpful in understanding the story. Although it’s definitely one of the more bewildering adaptations, I really liked it. (And who can say no to 2 hours of young Leonardo DiCaprio.) 

Now that I understood the general plot of this timeless story, I actually enjoyed it a lot more. I participated in class reenactments… though I stumbled through the old English… and we eventually finished reading it. 

While we read the script, we were expected to add to our Romeo and Juliet “theme book.” I used this book to add my thoughts on the story and connect them to some overarching themes (such as “the naivety of youth” and “the power of love & hate.”)

You can check out mine here:

We also watched new other adaptations together: “Gnomeo and Juliet” and “Warm Bodies.” In our theme book, we also connected themes from the adaptations we watched (including Romeo + Juliet, which I watched alone) with the original playwright. 

Originally, we were going to have a keystone dedicated to analyzing these movies. However, we needed more time to actually film our adaptation, so the keystone was scrapped. Luckily for me, I have a blog to rant about movies…


These films are pretty old, but just in case

Despite being a huge marketing ploy, Gnomeo and Juliet is surprisingly decent. It tries to cater the story of Romeo and Juliet to a younger audience and succeeds. Due to the stylization of the gnomes, the rough textures in the  animation aged generally well. Most of all, this movie includes a loveable plastic flamingo who carries the entire movie. The characters have more likeable personalities than the original, but that also gets rid of their flaws. However, though I watched it as a child, I have no particular attachment to this movie and nostalgia could not save it. It’s watchable, somewhat creative, and definitely better than some other movies in its category (aka extremely marketable animated movies for kids/ animation is only for kids so we have to dumb this movie down.) But that’s it. It’s just gnomes and Shakespeare… and I can’t say the same for its sequel. 

Romeo + Juliet is a perfect introduction to the original Shakespearean story. It keeps all the themes and dialogue from the original, and adapts it to a modern setting. If you can get past the “pulling out a gun while I call it a sword” and Leonardo DiCaprio constantly being pushed into pools, then it’s actually a good adaptation. It’s a creative take on the traditional story. Though, I believe its greatest flaw is some directive choices. The handheld camera work was very flashy and shaky at times, and some creative choices were too stylistic at times. For example, the neon crosses at Juliet’s funeral were pretty confusing and distracting (am I the only one who’s really bothered by those neon crosses? I’m really really annoyed by them.) I enjoyed this movie as a concept, but even I found it unentertaining and confusing at times.  Overall, this film is pretty subjective and depends on personal taste.

Warm Bodies was my favourite adaptation, but it was probably due to the fact that this one strayed furthest from the source material. When I first watched it a couple years ago, I couldn’t even tell that it was a Romeo and Juliet adaptation. Though at first the zombie/human relationship seemed weird, this story was a really creative and fresh take on Shakespeare (and the zombie genre as a whole.) I liked how the relationship between R and Julie was pretty one sided at first and took the “romance” slower than other adaptations. Perhaps that erases the “naivety of youth” theme, but this story isn’t a tragedy. The humour was pretty funny, and R’s character was way more likeable than Romeo’s while still remaining interesting for the plot. The CGI aged relatively well. They knew their limits in technology and used it to their advantage. Though it has some questionable moments (like seriously, the dude was shot and bleeding all over the pool, but he’s fine???), I really enjoyed this movie. 

Ok. I should probably move on now. 

I was teamed up with Xander, Cale, and Gwen, and we made this awesome adaptation…

I learned a lot about moviemaking and directing through creating our short adaptation. We had a fairly short amount of time to make this film considering it was the final product, and it was hard to finish it in time. Most of this was due to me being very very ambitious, because I’d been anticipating this project for awhile. 

I was pretty stressed throughout the whole process. Typically I try to stray away from the “leadership” role in group projects. However, typical me found myself in that position (and seriously, me in charge + ambitious ideas = disaster.) Though in the end, our product stayed a bit away from the “traditional film noir” (half-way through it becomes a western), I’m pretty happy with our film. 

From my documentary project to now, I believe I’ve improved my screenplay writing skills. There were many parts of the screenplay we had to discard from the final film. It was kinda sad, because we had to scrap some cool things due to time (such as the transition into the Paris + Romeo fight). However, we made it work in the end. 

Filming was my favourite part. I love the quality of hand held filming, and we got to use Gwen’s iPhone with the fancy camera stuff. However, I feel like I could’ve planned out the shots better (framing in particular). Overall, the black and white filter was very cool. However, if I were to go film noir style again, I’d like to focus more on lighting to capture it better. 

Here are some of my favourite clips…

Editing was pretty hard. Most of the sound in the first part was unusable, so I had to create some foley to replace it. Audio proved to be a challenge. I stuck to free iMovie music, so going through all of the different songs took awhile. In the end, I’m most proud of the western music during the Paris vs Romeo fight. Though it’s not quite film noir style, I found that it fit the best!

Also, just wanted to include that the introduction of our film was inspired by the news report at the beginning of Romeo + Juliet and the opening title of Casablanca. However, ours was supposed to be more along the lines of “war propaganda” than news (Gwen did an amazing job with the voice over.)  I really love putting small references everywhere!

I indulged my inner historical nerd by creating a (cough-not historically accurate-cough) spy radio for the introductory scene with not friar Laurence (played by me.) I had a lot of fun trying to replicate the style of these machines. I originally got the idea from this women spy movie on Netflix that I watched a year ago and I can’t remember the name for the life of me (it was a good movie). 

Anyways, thanks for reading this blog post! I just realized I didn’t use any Star Wars gifs in this post, so here’s one! 

(Me finishing this blog post)