Round Three, Shakespeare

I believe this is round three for Shakespeare projects, and as far they go, this one was definitely a tricky one. For this post I will be sharing the events of our most recent project which focused on the play Macbeth which was written by Shakespeare. Our goal for this project was to be able to comprehend Macbeth and then be able to transfer our knowledge into our own short film which told the story of Macbeth but it is set in the 1950s. Which meant in addition to knowing the story of Macbeth, we also had to known what significant events were happening during the 1950s ( Cuban Missile Crisis) and how to combine them into one film.

To start off, what is Macbeth. As we quickly learned Macbeth is a play about murder, betrayal, murder, people going crazy, more fighting with a beheading added in at the end. The main idea we focused on when watching adaptations of the play and also reading the play was that peoples true desires may be very different from how they present themselves, essentially, looks can be deceiving.  I found that the adaptions of the play were more effective at portraying this idea, although I was not really surprised because when comparing text to video I would think it is easier to show ideas like deception, and murder.

In the beginning I had absolutely no idea about Macbeth, but what I really found helpful was the adaptions, and I thin the reason was because actually seeing Shakespeare’s ideas and characters allowed me to understand key ideas within the play. However when I needed to know more about language and hidden idea within Macbeth, that’s where the textbook helped the most. Since adaptions use Shakespearean language, and all important ideas are in Shakespearean language I needed to know what certain words meant, and because the text book had a lot of translations, I was able to comprehend exactly what was happening in each of the scenes and acts.

In between this and the start of our filming we learned more about the 1950s and what significant events were happening at the time. The one point which we focused on and would become a main part of our movie was the fear of communism in America. We learned that there was conflict between America and the USSR because of the Cuban missile crisis, but in addition to that more and more Americans were beginning to question their values and the values of other Americans as well. 

It was quite a fast transition into filming. One minute we are one the topic of Macbeth, and then all of a sudden we are talking about filming, roles, scripts, and on top of this no one knew what roles they wold have in the movie or behind camera. To help get us on the right track our teachers did a classic activity that we have used in the past to quickly and effectively decided the best course for the scripts and plot of our films. 

The activity worked like this, first everyone in the class came up with a three act structure plot for the movie. This was an outline for how each of us thought the movie should go, what characters should be included, and what event fall into places like rising action, climax, and conclusion. We then meet in small groups to present our idea, and when our time is up for that group, we chose on person’s idea which we all agree best represents the groups ideal plot. My idea originally for this was to film Macbeth as a sort of 1950s undercover agent type movie. This would be good for showing the betrayal aspect of the original Macbeth play, and in addition I could also use this plot to show ideas that were happening behind the scenes, for example the information about the Cuban missile crisis that only the inside people knew about. After meeting with the first group I realized that my idea was good, however it did not include enough material concerning events and people during the 1950s. The goal was to have a film which was entirely based around 1950, and my idea did not have enough of that, therefore it would not have been a strong plot to base the movie off of.

That’s how the rest of the activity went, we kept on combining into different groups and pitching the idea which we thought was best and adding details to improve ones we thought could also work. Eventually there was only two groups left. Usually this is where our class has a divide in ideas and it is quite tough to settle on one or the other, but this project was an exception. For some reason both of the final groups had almost the same idea in the end, so we combined the two to create our final three act structure. If you want to figure out what plot we decided on, then you are going to have to wait until the end of the post where the film is included.

This is the point where everyone got busy doing different jobs for the film. Each member of the class requested a certain role in the either the post production of the movie, or a role helping in script, lights, sounds, costume and props. When I applied for a role my first request was for a sound role because I feel very comfortable dealing with music or sound effect in either the post production or recording sound live on set. The key selling point for me was that I was able to use the class boom mic to record sounds on set. I also thought I would apply for another role that I was maybe not so familiar or comfortable with, and that role was grip. The grip department are the ones who deal with all of the lights and electrical aspects of the set and they coordinate with the director to deal with how the scene should look. It sounded like an interesting role and something I had never tried before, so I thought I would at least put it as a second option for me.

In the end I was chosen to lead the sound department which would be in charge of recording sounds on set and would also be involved in advising the post production on what types of music and sound effects should be used during each scene. The sound department consisted of two people ( Alex and myself) and during the first few days of the filming we did not have much work to do, mostly because we were waiting on the script department to finish a final draft so we could annotate it and add any sounds we thought would fit in well. 

Then came the challenging part for myself. The production team asked me to play an acting role in the film which I was not expecting, and to be honest was complete out of my comfort zone. I knew the sound department would not have much work for the first few classes and I thought I might as well see what it was like to act. Personally I think this was one of the bigger challenges I have taken in the recent project, but overall it was a good experience which gave me information on what it was like to play a different role than usual.

After this there was not much opportunity for the sound department to do actual work on set with the rest of the crew. It was the producers choice to use different recording styles besides the boom mic for the first few scenes, so we were not required to be on set at the time. However what I did not know is that we would not be needed on set at all throughout the project. It was definitely disappointing ( as the boom mic was a key selling point for sound department) but we were able to contribute to the project in another way.

Instead of being directly on set, we decided to contribute more the post production aspect of the film. We went through the script and annotating it so that all the key sounds and timing of the sounds was labeled. We thought this would be helpful to post production so that all they had to do was fill in the sounds instead of having to go an find them by themselves.

That pretty much concludes the project for me at least. Filming went on for another week and post production started editing as soon as they got their hands on the already filmed material. Everyone worked very hard to complete the film, and looking at some of the early edited footage I can say that this looks like our best film so far, and I am very excited to see the final product.

Overall looking back at the project it definitely had its unexpected changes which made our jobs somewhat irrelevant, but I was proud of how we were able to handle the situation and contribute to the project however we could. Personally I was proud of myself for trying out a new role which actually turned out to not be as bad as I previously thought. In the future I think if I encounter a situation like this, the best thing to do is to reach out to other groups more and figure out how my job can overlap with other roles allowing me to contribute more.

That’s all for now.

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