MADNESS IS JUST A CRY FOR HELP…
HAMLET Update (4/1/2014)
Chicago, IL) Well, here we are with a few setbacks in our production but I am still hoping to shoot a scene in the Spring Shoot with the possibility of some random trailer footage to put together a teaser for showcasing. As we stand, we are still planning to shoot three major scenes in the summer.
Filmmaking is a series of high points and low. But you need to play the long game in getting your vision completed, surrounding yourself with people of talent that will strive to support the vision of the film and stick with their commitment to the project with integrity and passion. However, I do have some special restrictions on my HAMLET project that would scare anyone off a project so challenging. There are frustrations in filmmaking but there are many more in life.
Here are the setback we endured recently;
We have had not local casting happening. Many are intrigued by the project but in the end cannot commit to a “community volunteer project.” We have had so many out-of-state inquiries but we have virtually no budget (One of the many restrictions in place) to properly bring in actors for roles. Though, we have had one or two that are very excited and want to commit to the film and come in on their own to take part. We may be casting OPHELIA with such an actress.
Locations have been tough to come by. We are using found locations so this makes the visual consistency from scene to scene discontinuous. But we are hoping to gain a fantastic location at the Newberry Library and their generous support of our community project. We will be looking at other locations for our Spring Shoot which was supposed to take place in a parking structure but now will be moved to a different location. But such is the flexibility of the script. We also are checking into shooting at the Lutheran Theological School. More information coming soon.
“Two Scenes from HAMLET” was not selected to screen in the Tribeca Short FIlms Program for 2014. This would have given us a major push in completing the film. So, we are looking into Toronto International Film Festival, the other Tier A festival in North America. Then after that, we will submit to many other smaller film festivals.
Lastly, one of our central actors has been cast in a pilot and will possibly lose time with our production. The character was the most important figure in our version of HAMLET but many of his scenes remain on the docket for our Summer Shoot for now. More information soon.
But challenges are part of the process. I undertook the challenge of making HAMLET because it would be a struggle. You cannot take short cuts to easy gains when you are in the filmmaking business. But that is what the business has become. Most people do not understand that I am playing the “long game” after all. It has to be a struggle. You have to battle it and conquer it and make it a great piece of art in the end.
The Spring Shoot will still happen April 14 – 18 in Chicago. We are shooting a part of Act 4, Scene 4, FORTINBRAS’ first appearance.
When doing a full-length, full-text version of HAMLET, it is necessary to incorporate the Norway plot thread. It represents a virtual mirror to HAMLET’S own situation, as I am sure many of you literary scholars already know.
Here, we have a prince, whose own throne he never inherited after his own father’s death. Why? In fact, his uncle, OLD NORWAY sits on the throne. Instead of enacting vengeance, FORTINBRAS, at the play’s start, chooses to muster an army to hold Denmark to account over a treaty signed by his father and HAMLET’S father, wherein, upon the death of the victor in their Fathers’ War (KING HAMLET), all lands won would be ceded back to the loser (King FORTINBRAS).
However, CLAUDIUS, subverts this when he alerts OLD NORWAY of FORTINBRAS’ preparations and he puts a stop to them. Thus, practically from the beginning of the story, young FORTINBRAS is a character of action that CLAUDIUS must deal with to secure his throne and shows a stark contrast to HAMLET’S own indecisive nature. Kenneth Branagh handled this deftly in his version of “Hamlet” by visually introducing FORTINBRAS in the first scene of the play where HORATIO recounts why Denmark is preparing for war.
We will have to do much that same thing in our version. Besides shooting the scenes that FORTINBRAS is in, we will need to shoot some footage that shows the character’s background and preparations, so the threat of FORTINBRAS and of NORWAY GROUP are always in the background. Here, we are also playing FORTINBRAS as a woman, which does not require a drastic change in the Norway thread at all save gender and wording. It is also not unexpected that in many Native cultures that women hold positions of political power. So, in our world where Native people run corporate oligarchies, FORTINBRAS being a woman is not a drastic change at all.
So, come April, we will be shooting FORTINBRAS’ first physical appearance in the story. Maria Guzman (Stockbridge Munsee/Mexican) has been cast and she had done some research into the character of FORTINBRAS and has added some great insight, “If I were to make a bit of a backstory, I would say that Fortinbras was raised with rigorous training and the reason he was side stepped could be because of his mother. She’s never mentioned. He probably was an illegitimate child, which could explain his obsession with honor.”
The summer shoot is shaping up great. We have locked down both a location and an actor for the planned scenes where GERTRUDE confronts HAMLET after his play which leads to the death of POLONIUS and the reappearance of the GHOST. Jenn Michels, (Citizen Nation Potawatomi/Ojibway) a first-time actor has volunteered for the role of GERTRUDE and in character discussions has come up with a great interpretation of the role and I cannot wait to shoot the scenes with her.
For the SUMMER SHOOT, we are still planning to shoot ACT 1 – SCENE 2: BOARD ROOM – CLAUDIUS & GERTRUDE’S Marriage announcement INTRO HAMLET. W/ POLONIUS & LAERTES
LOCATION: BOARD ROOM/MEETING ROOM with extras
We will also shoot a part of ACT 1 – SCENE 4: MARCELLUS, HORATIO and HAMLET on the watch, meet THE GHOST.
Also, the FINALE of ACT 5 – SCENE 2: The fencing match between LAERTES & HAMLET, with CLAUDIUS, GERTRUDE, OSRIC & HORATIO is still on the docket waiting on location confirmation. This scene will need a lot of extras, someone with stage combat expertise as well as appearances by FORTINBRAS, her CAPTAIN, and the ENGLISH AMBASSADOR.
These roles are yet to be filled:
CAPTAIN: Older Native American male/female – needed for SPRING SHOOT
OSRIC: 30-ish Native American male, the role is typically played foppish and comic but this will be a mask of his deadliness.
THE GHOST: Older Native American Man (Old King HAMLET)
LAERTES: Is being considered by Jordan Gurneau
CLAUDIUS: Older Native American man (HAMLET’s Uncle, GERTRUDE’s Husband, the Villain)
In consideration of the last Production meeting, one scene has been dropped for now: ACT 5 – SCENE 2 (beginning); HAMLET and HORTIO first confronting OSRIC. We are now concentrating on individual rehearsals with the actors that have volunteered for roles. However, we are pressing forward in our efforts to create a really great piece of cinema and tell the story of HAMLET in a way that has never been attempted before.
We are trying to make this feature as budget-free as possible. This way, we are not behold to producers who would want changes or instill the beads and feathers, but also to challenge the Native American Art World in its hyperbole of supporting Native artists and projects. We are not beholden to donors who expect expertise in exchange for their support.
This has made it rather difficult to put together. But this is where those who really support the arts shine and I have seen so many people and organizations come forward in support of our film. It has to be a challenge. It needs to be. You have to fight it and conquer it. This way it stands on its own merits with its own integrity.
For more information visit the other pages. If you are interested in a role, see the CAST LIST to view open parts and email: email@example.com to discuss availability and schedules.
It might not be art, but then, it might….
Ernest M Whiteman III (Northern Arapaho) Director, Producer, Writer, Actor “HAMLET”