Yup, I did my project on my own this semester! It wasn’t easy, but I did have loads of fun filming and editing. Since I was doing it on my own, I decided to pick the soliloquy from Act 3, Scene 1, which includes the infamous “To be, or not to be” intro.
For version 1 I went with an older theme, and for version 2 I went with something a little more innovative. I wanted both versions to look visibly different and incorporate diverse techniques in accordance with the guidelines on the rubric.
For version 1, I wanted to focus more on the words, so I thought the lines should be read out loud. I also incorporated a very dark and gloomy look into the scenes, as I wanted to portray the inner confusion, grief and sadness that Hamlet was experiencing. Additionally, I wanted everything to look like an old recording from a VHS tape, so the editing I did reflects this particular theme. I also moved from sequence to sequence, incorporating various effects such as zoom in, zoom out, dolly shot, crane shot, etc. I also used a soundtrack from an old film in the background, as I wanted it to look as vintage/old as possible. Shakespeare’s words in the act reflect a depressed and contemplative mood, so I had myself go around and stare at old pictures, stare into space, zone out, etc. Towards the end, I even had Hamlet look at some flowers while deep in thought, which symbolizes his inner conflict regarding life and its true purpose. All of the effects were done to reflect this uncertainty and cynicism, and many scenes fade out to black to further highlight this element.
For version 2, I wanted to take a more modern/innovative approach. While version 1 had black and white, film grain, scratches, etc. to reflect an older theme, version 2 was in color and featured more scenic/cinematic imagery. For this version, I decided to do a voice over instead so I could emphasize the visuals and make it more dramatic. My goal for this version was to make it look like a 21st century film/movie trailer with amazing shots and incredible scenery. For this version, I used a soundtrack with a piano playing in the background, which reflects a sad and contemplative mood, and I decided that the filming location would be a park close to my home where I could capture beautiful visuals. I used many effects such as close-up, zoom in, zoom out, steadicam, point-of-view shot, high angle shot, long shot, medium shot, wide angle shot, overhead shot, voice-over, pan shot, etc. This version used a wide variety of shots to really delve into the scene, and I especially loved the point-of-view shots that really make viewers feel like they are a part of the film. I also used black and white imagery on specific scenes where Hamlet was scared, angry, confused, etc. I wanted to create a very angsty mood with these black and white scenes, and lines such as: “The pangs of despised love” (Miola, p. 57) and “The undiscovered country from whose bourn / No traveler returns, puzzles the will” (Miola, p.57) are portrayed in black and white to reflect this. I also slowed down many of the scenes to highlight the inner turmoil and uncertainty that Hamlet faces. One of the scenes includes me (or Hamlet) falling down some stairs in slow motion, and the scene is also in black and white. There is also a scene where Hamlet reaches out towards a tree while lying on the ground, as if begging for someone to help him. This reflects the inner state and condition of his mind, as he is known to be quite mad throughout the play. The voice-over also shifts from calm, to aggressive, to almost deadly silent. I used different tones for various parts of the film, and also wore all black to reflect this component of the movie. I saw many costumes of Hamlet that were black, and I decided to create a modern version of him wearing all black and a pair of sunglasses. The scenic trees, grass, etc. add to the overall contemplative mood of the film, and the music further heightens this effect. Below, you will find a sample video from my film which illustrates the mood I was aiming for.
Additionally, here are some shots from the film!
Overall, I had a great time filming this. Doing a soliloquy gave me the ability to get even more creative with how I filmed the scenes. I was able to interpret the text in two different ways, stressing different words in both versions and using a different tone. Using the rubric, I went through various cinematic effects I could use, and also incorporated distinctions in camerawork, montages, soundtracks, etc. I created different rhythms and appropriate moods for each version, and made sure that both were unique and didn’t utilize many of the same styles. This was a great project and experience, and I feel like I have a film producer career ahead of me! Just kidding — I still have a long way to go. 🙁 But hey, this is much better than anything I’ve filmed in the past, so I’m going to give myself a pat on the back!