The latest staging of “Romeo and Juliet” is transformed into a film with Sony Venice and Cooke lenses

A new theatrical take on “Romeo and Juliet” have been recently captured by cinematographer Tim Sidell using Cooke S7/i Full Frame lenses and Canon K35s on a Sony Venice camera.

The take was performed and shot at the National Theatre over 17 days while it was closed during the pandemic. The resulting film begins with a theatre group rehearsing the play in a simple space with only a few props. Realism grows as the film progresses – a stick wielded in rehearsal later becomes a knife, and the sets become more detailed and more filmic. Josh O’Connor (The Crown, God’s Own Country) and Jessie Buckley (Chernobyl, Fargo) take the title roles.

“I was attracted to the project because of its hybrid approach – rather than a film of a stage play, the stage is a location for a film – and I was also interested in the collaborative nature of the production”, said Sidell. “The director, Simon Godwin, has enormous experience and success as a theatre director but had never directed for camera. I leant on my background in fine art and video installation along with my cinematography experience and it was exciting to work together to create something new. It was a very intense experience and I felt a huge sense of ownership as a key collaborator.”

Sidell chose to shoot with the Sony Venice. “It has a more ‘human’ feel and a lot of that is to do with the colour – the way it renders skin is incredible. It’s also full frame so there’s more depth of field range to play with.” Also, he chose Canon K35 lenses and Cooke S7/i’s as a complementary lens set. “I like the way the focus falls off, and the contrast is very elegant. Having a range of focal lengths to choose from is also great. Shooting full frame is different from shooting S35 and the slightly-longer-than medium focal lengths are so good for portraiture – I love the Cooke 65mm. Having so many choices close together at the wide end is also really useful.”

Sidell used the Cooke lenses with the Sony Venice on a dolly track as well as a Scorpio Techno Crane with a manual fluid head where he would have control with a rocker switch. Movietech supplied the entire camera and lens package and Panavision supplied the Scorpio.

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