Much Ado About Shakespeare in Black-and-White

Joss Whedon’s marvelous Shakespeare house party in modern dress, Much Ado About Nothing, is part of a mini black-and-white resurgence this year that also includes Noah Baumbach’s screwball Frances Ha, Alexander Payne’s chilly Nebraska, and Godfrey Reggio’s counter-intuitive Visitors. Maybe it’s The Artist factor, or else it’s just time to go monochromatic again as a retro exercise in naturalism. For Much Ado cinematographer Jay Hunter (who previously worked with Whedon on the Dollhouse TV series), shooting in black-and-white was nirvana — a mixture of film noir and the French New Wave.

“Deep down, he felt like it had a noir quality to it and transposing it to the modern day and shooting it in black-and-white would help bridge the gap between the language and the contemporary setting,” Hunter recalls.

Shot in 12 days at his Spanish Colonial house in Santa Monica with members of his loyal acting troupe (led by Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof as the bitter rivals Beatrice and Benedick), Whedon re-imagined Shakespeare’s popular comedy about love and slander with Italian suits and cell phones. With Elizabethan wit and timeless wisdom, it’s modern yet musical and plays like a smart, accessible rom-com. (Whedon even credits this Shakespeare play with providing the template for the genre.) And its emphasis on female empowerment is right in Whedon’s thematic wheelhouse. In fact, Whedon’s wife, Kai Cole, insisted they forgo their 20th anniversary in Venice so he could reconnect with his house, family, and friends by making this passion project.

Hunter shot digitally with the Red Epic in color and then converted to black-and-white in post. On set, however, they switched the chroma off the monitors. It’s not the purest way to shoot black-and-white, but the new Red Epic Monochrome moves a step closer by allowing you to switch off the color with the touch of a button.

Read the rest at TOH/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Cinematography, Movies, Tech, Trailers

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