Working with a very limited budget, Ramsay shot the entire film in only three days, using four Canon 7D cameras. Long, medium and close up shots were often all filmed at the same time in an effort to get as much coverage as possible, as the production was only afforded one or two takes for any given scene. The film went on to receive eight Leo Award nominations, and premiered in competition at the Vancouver International Film Festival.
On his own adaptation, Ramsay is quoted: "Like any other director my hope was to bring something new to the piece. By shortening the entire play into a single evening, I wished to clearly mark out that such a succession of traumatic events (for Hamlet, loosing his father, his mother's love, his girlfriend's companionship, coming upon his father's ghost and learning of his uncle's misdeed) - put all this together, and one can easily see why anyone might be driven to the brink of madness. In our most modern medical terms, one could argue that Hamlet was suffering from PTSD.
Furthermore, my intention with the film, was to not only make the character of Hamlet accessible to everyone, but the entire play as well. Though I am a great fan of the classic interpretations of the story, most notably Kenneth Branagh's 1996 adaptation and Tony Richardson's 1969 version starring Nicol Williamson, I felt the need to make a film that could speak to those who had not had the opportunity to study Shakespeare, or had not enjoyed studying Shakespeare in school (which there are a great many) , and most importantly, to the younger generation who are not studying classical literature in the same manner as many of us did growing up.
Kids learn in different ways now, so it's important to engage them in a different manner. Traditionally a teacher would guide their class through a selected Shakespeare play, before taking the class to see a production of that selected play. And I'm sure this approach still works for some teachers with their classes.
However, the problem lies that many kids these days have very short attention spans (as I did growing up with my own learning disabilities), so by trimming the dated language and simplifying the story, the younger audience member can be drawn in emotionally, which I think is the best way in wetting a student's interest in Shakespeare. Now emotionally engaged, hopefully the student will be interested into learning more about the piece, and then discussing their reaction to my particular adaptation.
The most rewarding aspect of meeting with audience members after a screening is having them tell me that for the first time they understand what the play was about, and also what Hamlet was going through. One audience member even told me that he's usually nervous watching a Shakespeare production because he's sure to loose his way because of the dated language. Audiences like to know what's happening at all times. I wanted to give them that experience." New York City, 2014.
And further Ramsay is quoted: "I know they'll be a fair amount of seasoned Shakespeare fans who will be upset by all the parts of the play that I cut out. I'm more than willing to take their critique. Some of the more interesting stage productions of Hamlet that I have seen, pushed the boundaries of how this story was usually told. Putting Hamlet into scenes he normally would not appear, making his relationship with Ophelia openly sexual, giving some of Hamlet's most famous lines for other characters to speak, was all a part of an effort to view the play through a newfound lens. New York City, 2014. See more