Monday, August 24, 2009

More on 3D Hamlet

I've been talking to the people at Shakespeare 4 Kidz who announced recently that they're working on a 3D film version of their Hamlet production. Here is their press release:

S4K’s Hamlet in 3D will be the first of a series of six movie adaptations of the musical versions of the Bard’s plays originally created by the acclaimed UK theatre company Shakespeare 4 Kidz.

The film, which is produced by Mark Thomas and Elsinore Films, will be directed by double BAFTA winner John Godber, who is reuniting his partnership with Thomas, the producer of Godber’s film version of Up ‘n’ Under.

Series producer Mark Thomas of Elsinore Films explained “We have long admired the work that Julian and the team at Shakespeare 4 Kidz have achieved, which is often described as the “Disney-fication” of Shakespeare, and we are delighted that funding opportunities have presented themselves so readily.”

Executive Producer Michael Cowan, co-MD of Spice Factory and Stealth Media Group says: “We believe that there is a great commercial opportunity here for the S4K series to flourish in the worldwide market, and the titles to enjoy an ‘evergreen’ status which will still be selling in 50 years time.”
Not only will the story of Hamlet be told in a unique and exciting way, but the addition of the latest 3D technology brings added excitement to cinema audiences: a ghost that hovers in front of your eyes, cannon-fire that flies into the auditorium and a final sword-fight that seems to literally be all around you, are just some of the features promised in the first film, which is firmly targeted at the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and High School Musical market.

S4K’s Julian Chenery, who is a co producer of the new film series, says “Creating a Hamlet for children was the ultimate test for The Shakespeare 4 Kidz Theatre Company and we are thrilled that the team of Mark Thomas, John Godber and Michael Cowan are able to help bring this unique idea to the big screen.”

S4K’s Hamlet is the first in a series of three Shakespeare 4 Kidz movies that will be produced back-to-back over an eighteen month period. “Hamlet” will be followed by “Macbeth” and “Romeo and Juliet” in the first block of three. The second series will feature “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Twelfth Night” and “The Tempest”.

Alongside the movies, Elsinore has developed a television show “Movie Quest – A Romeo 4 Juliet”, a public search to find two undiscovered young actors to play the lead parts of Romeo and Juliet.

S4K’s Hamlet will be distributed internationally and in the UK by Stealth Media who are about to release the 3D version of Garfield Petforce.
They've receiving some curious criticism for the project, a typical example being from the usually good Paste Magazine who are unusually snippy and cynical about the project the tone of their post exemplified by opening of the title "No seriously...".

It is a bit annoying when people jump to conclusion without checking things out first -- it's part of the new culture I suppose, in which surface has replaced depth. I remember at Easter when certain books suddenly dropped from Amazon's listings and people where immediately jumping about and pointing (metaphorically speaking) and accusing Amazon of homophobia when in fact it was just one guy in Paris who'd clicked the wrong box when he was updating a database and it had spread through the webshop and nothing could be done because it was a bank holiday ...

Anything which brings kids to Shakespeare is a good thing from Lamb's Tales of Shakespeare to even the Romeo and Juliet cartoon with sea mammals. I wish I'd been exposed to such things at primary school -- we essentially reached third year secondary school and had Julius Caesar dumped in our lap which was incredibly difficult having only touched on the "All The World's A Stage..." speech from As You Like It the year before. In other words, Shakespeare 4 Kidz is a brilliant idea.

Even a cursory glance at their website shows that they've thought a great deal about how these shows should be put together, even to the point of offering for sale packs which can be used by schools to put on their own versions and teacher resources. Far from being a cynical exploitation of the bard, this looks like a carefully thought out strategy for bringing children to his work at a much younger age than usually, and the film is simply an extension of that, which can only be a good thing.

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