Shakespeare’s King John...with a twist!

by William Wellman / Dec 17, 2012 / 0 comments

Ever since my siblings and I first started performing small plays for our parents, I’ve wanted to make an adaptation of the opening to Shakespeare’s classic King John. Unfortunately, it became apparent that none of us possessed the ability to memorize large portions of Shakespearean dialogue, and so we were forced to drop the idea in favor of easier, more contemporary plays about princesses and red hens. However, the idea remained in my mind as, years later; I began to experiment with creating films. I was sorting through trunks of old puppets and stuffed animals in the basement when I had a flash of inspiration. What if I did the opening to King John with puppets?


Following that whim, I promptly shot about three hour’s worth of footage of me sitting in a basement, shouting out Shakespearean prose in strange voices while holding a puppet in front of a camera. Discouraged by the unpolished look of the footage I’d taken without any effects added, I decided to abandon the project.


But the idea continued to nag at me, and I finally decided to take the footage I’d shot and turn it into the video I’d been planning, even if it turned out badly in the end. Because I had repeated each line in the video many times in hope of getting one good version, my first job was to find the best take for each line and remove it from the rest of the footage. This took a while, and some hard decisions had to be made as to which version of a line was better.


Second was the assembly. This may be the hardest part of putting together any low-budget film. This is the point where you put in the Green Screen, special effects, color modifications, and put together the video. Here are a couple tips I discovered that you may find helpful:


Blurring the Background is an important part of making your video look better than it really is. When you look at real movies, they look professional because the background is out of focus and the actor is in focus. With a blur setting for your Chroma Key backgrounds, you can recreate this effect.  If you’re not using Chroma Key, you can zoom in on your subject, and then stand farther back to compensate for this.


Color is an important factor in film. In this video, I changed the brightness and contrast for every shot. Another useful tool, if it’s available on the platform you are using, is called ‘Color Curves.’. It allows you to change the color in an easy and accessible way. In this video, I would decrease the brightness and increase the contrast to give it a more edgy look.


Backgrounds are always worth creating yourself, as opposed to getting them from the internet. Images from the internet are often copyrighted, and you may be trespassing on those copyrights by using them in your videos. But if you do decide to find pictures from the internet to use, I recommend searching for Desktop Wallpapers. They’re much larger than normal images, and the high resolution makes them ideal for a more realistic looking background. But I try to use them as a last resort. In this video, the backgrounds are actually pictures of a bed, a sewing box, and a large wooden trunk. But with a little blur and some atmospheric music, they became the throne room of King John. Backgrounds are easier to find than you might think.


Props vary wildly from video to video. The only prop I needed in this project was a crown for King John, which I fashioned out of cardboard, duct tape, and paint of several different colors. Try to make sure that the props you use fit the tone and style of your video.


Even though I wasn’t pleased with my video when I begun it, by the time I’d finished editing, assembling and tweaking it, I was rather pleased with the result.





William Wellman is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program.