Hamlet in the Golden Vale takes on a different representation of the historical Shakespearean play. Reimagined by theatre company Roll the Bones, the play-turned-film features all of the archetypal characters of the original Hamlet but places them in a lonesome castle in Tipperary, Ireland. The characters essentially stay true to the original text, but play out their roles in a setting different from the play.
“There’s actually two plots to the movie. The main plot has all of the elements of the traditional narrative: Hamlet’s encounter with his father’s ghost, his turmoil with his parents, the whole revenge plot is all there,” said Cory Fraiman-Lott, Cinematographer and camera operator. “The B plot involves seeing them living together and how their relationship develops.”
The film was shot using a Canon EOS C300 with Celere HS Prime lenses. Mounted to the C300 was a Teradek Bolt 300 transmitter, which sent wireless feeds to a Bolt receiver in video village, pushing the feed to their Odyssey 7Q director’s monitor.
The Bolt 300 is a zero-delay video transmitter which sends a feed wirelessly from the camera to a receiver/monitor up to 300 feet away. This allows directors, 1st ACs and other members of the crew to monitor the shot live, making it easier to stay in the loop of the project.
Exposition and Energy
For the theatre company, capturing the raw energy of the play’s dramatic structure was key to perfecting the film. “The lynchpin was this sense of energy, speed and truth to the whole experience. We wanted to make it feel like we were following every aspect of the characters, capturing the emotions and making it all feel real.” For Cory and the crew, this meant acquiring the best shots as efficiently as possible.
According to Cory, the Bolt was especially useful in the most dramatic part of the film: Ophelia’s drowning scene. In the outdoor lake that they wanted to use, the water was freezing cold, and they didn’t want to put the actress’ health at risk. In addition, the director wanted to see the shot and make sure they captured all the right emotions. Because the shoot was above water, cables were out of the question as well.
“We wanted it to be very calm but have kind of a dark atmosphere to it. We waited until right as the sun was just below the horizon. So many factors needed to line up at the same time, which meant we had little time to get it right.”
Having the Bolt on set made capturing this critical scene entirely possible. Since most of the scene was filmed above water, the camera operator had to be wireless to get the shots they wanted. Also, with the Director being able to remotely monitor the shot from farther away, the film crew could make adjustments on the go, meaning less time spent shooting on set and less time for the talent to be submerged in freezing water.
In addition to the feature film, Roll the Bones also partnered with VR City and The Immersive Storytelling Studio at U.K.'s Royal National Theatre to produce a short 360°/VR piece along with the play. With Roll the Bones’ background in immersive theater, 360 was a way for them to recreate the interactive form on film, offering viewers a unique perspective and bringing them closer to the performance.
The VR piece employed a GoPro Odyssey camera, a 360° rig comprised of 16 GoPro Hero4s. The 360 feed was monitored by rigging 4 separate GoPro Hero4s underneath the Odyssey and pushing the 4 feeds to a Decimator DMON-QUAD 4-to-1 HDMI convertor, allowing them to be sent as 1 feed into a Bolt 2000 transmitter. From another room, the crew could monitor the 360 images on their director’s monitor as 4 separate feeds, giving them an approximate of what the shot looks like.
Thanks to Bolt’s zero-delay transmissions to the director’s monitor, the drowning scene was finished much more quickly than it would have without live monitoring. Instead of shooting retake after retake in the freezing lake, they could quickly make adjustments as they filmed, wasting as little time as possible and allowing for a more efficient set over all.
This was true throughout the film as well. “Having the Bolt meant we didn’t need to be tied down and allowed us to stay incredibly small and mobile throughout the castle. From tricky spiral staircases to low-hanging beams on the roof, it meant having complete freedom.”
Wireless downlinks are quickly making their way into the workflows of every production in the world, allowing different options on set that were previously either extremely difficult or impossible to achieve. Since it’s become so essential for every project to have one, productions from Hollywood to independent filmmakers have all embraced the new tech.