Such Sweet Sorrow Janary UpdateJan 15, 2022
The Senior Thesis film Such Sweet Sorrow follows Juliet Capulet as she wakes up in purgatory, following her suicide in Shakespeare’s original play. She must choose between following Romeo into heaven or making her own way in the space between worlds. This project brought together a team of CU Denver undergraduates across the College of Arts & Media, English, and Ancient Studies departments. The goal was to illustrate how women (historical, fictional, and modern) are faced with the task of subverting expectations and reclaiming power in a patriarchal social order.
The core crew of Such Sweet Sorrow includes Makayla Lange, director; Shyla Hoglan, producer; Brittany Cook, cinematographer; Margaret Anne Camp, assistant director; Ellie Graphman, art director; and Isabella Paul and Rachel Davis as historical Shakespeare consultants.
While exploring and making her decision, Juliet wanders into purgatory- a bar filled with dead Shakespeare characters from other plays. Many of the challenged discussions for the design of the film revolved around how to make modern filming locations feel timeless enough to look natural for those characters and 14th century Juliet Capulet. When Juliet wakes up in the liminal space before heaven, the room is exceedingly modern. Graphman brought an ornate, hand carved wooden backdrop, while Lange also wanted a multitude of flowers and shrouds. After checking with Davis, the Shakespeare consultant for the team, and hearing about historically accurate funeral practices of the time, the design and decorating team was able to decorate the set in a way that captured both Lange and Graphman’s vision. Cook’s cinematography made sure to highlight the details the team created.
The film crew also got creative with the decoration of the bar where Juliet spends most of the film. While they were able to find a location that did not feel too modern, Graphman’s goal was to make it as natural for Juliet to be there as possible. She and Cook wished to have candlelight effects illuminating as much as possible, to add to the historical feel. When talking this plan through with the gaffer (lighting director) Abby Pellien, Pellien suggested a balance of candlelight and tungsten lights. Pellien’s suggestion allowed for character’s faces to be gently illuminated with the effects of candlelight, while the backgrounds were illuminated by modern pools of light. The balance of modern and historical was perfectly achieved in the final image.
Throughout the project, the team has kept open communication channels to encourage collaboration and allow the addition of individual ideas to the overall project process. Filmmaking is highly collaborative and every department within the planning and production phase needs to be able to express their creativity in a direct manner. Creative planning meetings were held frequently, with shared cloud folders and group messages used to keep everyone updated on progress. Regular check-ins during pre-production and filming assured that each member of the team had an opportunity to express their opinions and add to the process. By May 2022, editing will be completed, and the final film will be available to watch by the public.
Such Sweet Sorrow Crew
Makayla Lange (FITV)- Director
Shyla Hoglan (FITV) - Producer
Brittany Cook (FITV) - Cinematographer
Milton Lopez (FITV) - Camera B Operator
Kya Brogdon (FITV) - Camera B Operator
Ethan Lien (FITV) - Assistant Camera
Jose Molina (FITV) - Assistant Camera
Ellie Graphman (FITV) - Art Director
Kelsey Buneta (FITV) - Makeup Artist
Margaret Anne Camp (FITV) - Assistant Director
Damien Kofoed (non-student)- Sound
Joey Bramer (FITV) - Sound
Chris Probst (FITV) - Visual Effects Coordinator
Isabella Paul (HIST)- Historical Context
Rachel Davis (ENGL)- Shakespeare Consultant
Such Sweet Sorrow Cast
Isabel Chavez (non-student)- Juliet
Zane Barber (non-student)- Romeo
Ash Morris (FITV)- Angel
Dillon Cain (non-student)- Hamlet
Kim Fass (non-student)- Desdemona