Picture This

April 10, 2010 at 2:29 pm (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Film Adaptations) (, , , , )

Picture some Australian college kids looking for a psychology project that involves observing live subjects, add a little hypnosis and a lot of Shakespearean shenanigans and you have Picture This: A Midsummer Night’s Comedy. This is a micro-budget, brief (83 minute) flick that puts a very modern spin on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I got a kick out of it. This is not a big, glossy, glitzy Hollywood production, but more like a film school project—and I think it works well for what it is.

The fairy world here is inhabited by college kids (in other words, there is no fairy world and actually, no magic). Jack King (played by Luke Rex) is the Oberon character. He is failing out of his psych program and must make a perfect score on his next project. Jack’s buddy Puck Goodfellow (Jason Bradshaw) agrees to help him make the grade. The film opens with Puck hypnotizing a cat to make it bark like a dog. His hypnosis skills serve the purpose of the magic in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Jack and Puck come up with a plan to observe an engaged couple in their home via secret video cameras. Jack’s girlfriend Tania (Melissa Martin) plays the Titania part. She agrees to help Jack with the technological side of the project. The kids pretend to install a new cable TV system and once the cameras are in place, they observe the goings-on remotely from the rooftop of the house.

The Shakespearean love quadrangle is Nicole (Victoria Hall) in the Hermia role, Penny (Rachel Terry) in the Helena role, Tom (Drayton Morley) in the Lysander role, and George (James Studdert) in the Demetrius role. In addition, Nicole and Tom’s characters have elements of Hippolyta and Theseus. And Tom pulls triple duty by serving as the ass, Bottom!

The undergrads know they should just observe their subjects and not impact them, yet they can’t help themselves from using hypnosis to induce changes they want to see in the love quadrangle to “improve” their data. The whole thing comes together quite well in an Australian indie, micro-budget, seat-of-the-pants kind of way.

I’m not usually interested in the bonus stuff on a DVD, but in this case, I’m glad I watched it. There is a 10 minute film with screenplay writer/director/producer John Fisk’s advice on “How to Adapt a Shakespearean Play” that I enjoyed quite a lot. It explains his desire to adapt and modernize A Midsummer Night’s Dream by giving Oberon (Jack) and Helena (Penny) more appropriate consequences for what he considers their selfish actions. It explains quite well the motivation for deviating from a strictly Shakespearean storyline and I found this quite interesting.

There’s also a bonus piece on making a micro-budget feature film in Australia, production of this film, and a blooper set. They’re all brief and worth watching (at least on fast play). The bonus material is also available on the film’s website (where you can order the DVD, which is not currently on Netflix). Oh, and as I look at the website, I see that these folks have been up to more Shakespearean adaptation: Shake it Up: It’s Much Ado about Something! What fun!

© All Content, Copyright 2010 by Blog Author, Or What You Will. All Rights Reserved.

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14 Comments

  1. Renee said,

    That does sound like fun! There is a Hollywood movie called Picture This and it doesn’t resemble this version AT ALL. I wonder how the film makers (of either one or both) feel about that.

    • orwhatyouwill said,

      Yeah, I wondered about the titles, too. Renee, you’ll really like this one. I will mail it to you with others. :)

    • John Fisk said,

      Hi Renee, yes it was interesting that another picture came out with the same title around the same time. We had shot ours a couple of years earlier (ours being the Shakespearean adaptation, “Picture This, A Midsummer Night’s Comedy” and had settled on that name long before the other picture had been produced. Unfortunately, we were already committed to use this name when we heard about the other film…..but…that’s just how these things go.

  2. Tue Sorensen said,

    Thanks for bringing these movies to my attention! I swear I don’t know how you find out about these things! But I’m glad you’re so resourceful! :-D

    • orwhatyouwill said,

      Ha ha! I really have trouble accounting for myself… I just see things mentioned here and there.

      You’ll be happy to know I’m watching the 1999 version now! I hope to get some reading in tonight, as well. It’s a challenge with my 2 little ones.

  3. Renee said,

    Hey, just spotted this on my newsfeed. Though you’re done with R&J, I thought you might be interested.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE63B4KA20100412

    • orwhatyouwill said,

      It’s really odd. I looked here: http://suchtweetsorrow.com/story/ and at the link to Juliet’s youtube video and I confess that I’m having that “life is too short” thing that I have whenever I look at facebook. :) Oh well. I’ll look at it again to see what they’re doing. Seems odd though!

      • Renee said,

        It does seem odd. But could be interesting if you followed from the beginning. Though I have an account, I’m not much of a twitter fan. So I probably won’t follow either. But it sounded interesting.

  4. Tue Sorensen said,

    Hope you like the 1999 film. I think it’s amazing. I love the entire cast, and virtually everything about how the movie is done. Perhaps the added-on unhappy marriage of Bottom is a bit of a stretch, but I suppose it does provide some counter-balance that makes his character more pathetic (in a good way). Overall, I think it works splendidly.

  5. A Dreamy Dream « Or What You Will said,

    [...] to the unworthy Demetrius. I was very interested in Helena’s motivation after watching Picture This, where Helena is portrayed as selfish and making poor decisions and ultimately suffering because [...]

    • John Fisk said,

      I know “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is a comedy however when watching the play or a movie version of it I’m always struck by how Helena treats her friend Hermia. In writing screenplays, the theory goes that, it is really important to look at the choices which your characters make. This really defines the character. In other words the character is the choices that they make.

      • orwhatyouwill said,

        That makes a lot of sense. I really did enjoy that “extra” on your DVD. I thought it was very interesting to see how you go about dissecting the story in order to adapt it. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Good luck with your next film. Please let me know when it’s available on DVD… I will definitely watch it!

  6. Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch Cherry Bomb! « Or What You Will said,

    [...] boils down to this: misogyny. As Picture This director John Fisk points out in his video about adapting a Shakespearean play, “The world in [...]

  7. The Course of True Love « Or What You Will said,

    [...] been thinking about Helena’s motivation here. This has been weighing on me since I watched Picture This. In screenplay writer and director John Fisk’s video about adapting a Shakespearean play he [...]

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