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October 24 2011

Much Ado About Nothing: The press release (pdf). Also accessible directly from the Much Ado website. The film is "the first feature from Bellwether, a micro-studio created by Joss Whedon and Kai Cole for the production of small, independent narratives for all media, embracing a DIY ethos and newer technologies."

For the non-PDF people:
Santa Monica, CA (October 24th, 2011)

Bellwether Pictures proudly announces the completion of principal photography on MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, a modern version of Shakespeare's classic comedy adapted and directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel's upcoming THE AVENGERS, "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog"). Filmed in just 12 days entirely on location in exotic Santa Monica, the film features a stellar cast of beloved (or soon to be beloved) actors - some of them veterans of Shakespearean theater, some completely new to the form. But all dedicated to the idea that this story bears retelling, that this dialogue is as fresh and intoxicating as any being written, and that the joy of working on a passion project surrounded by dear friends, admired colleagues and an atmosphere of unabashed rapture far outweighs their hilariously miniature paychecks.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is the first feature from Bellwether, a micro-studio created by Joss Whedon and Kai Cole for the production of small, independent narratives for all media, embracing a DYI ethos and newer technologies for, in this particular case, a somewhat older story.

Shot in glorious black and white by Jay Hunter (PAPER HEART, "Dollhouse"), the film stars Amy Acker (CABIN IN THE WOODS, "Alias") and Alexis Denisof ("How I Met Your Mother", "Angel") as Beatrice and Benedick, the world's least likely lovers headed for their inevitable tumble into love. As Joss Whedon puts it: "The text is to me a deconstruction of the idea of love, which is ironic, since the entire production is a love letter - to the text, to the cast, even to the house it's shot in." The supporting cast includes Nathan Fillion ("Castle", WAITRESS) as Dogberry, Clark Gregg (AVENGERS, IRON MAN) as Leonato, Fran Kranz (CABIN IN THE WOODS, "Dollhouse") as Claudio and Reed Diamond ("Franklin & Bash", MONEYBALL) as Don Pedro.

The film was produced by Whedon, line-produced by Nathan Kelly and M. Elizabeth Hughes, and co-produced by Kai Cole and Danny Kaminsky. The super-impressive cast is listed below. Full tech credits (for the extraordinary crew) will be up shortly. The film should be completed by early spring and headed for the festival circuit, because it is fancy.

The Players:

Amy Acker - Beatrice
Alexis Denisof - Benedick
Nathan Fillion - Dogberry
Clark Gregg - Leonato
Reed Diamond - Don Pedro
Fran Kranz - Claudio
Sean Maher - Don John
Spencer Treat Clark - Borachio
Riki Lindhome - Conrade
Ashley Johnson - Margaret
Emma Bates - Ursula
Tom Lenk - Verges
Nick Kocher - First Watchman
Brian McElhaney - Second Watchman
Joshua Zar - Leonato's aide
Paul M. Meston - Friar Francis
Romy Rosemont - The Sexton
And introducing Jillian Morgese as Hero

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2011-10-24 21:48 ]

I'm assuming that means they shot it all on a couple of Canon 5D's or something similar. It does make you think what people can get away with now, where before you needed this massive crew of people to film it, now you can get away with a much smaller amount. Of course, you still need talent and skill, but you don't need a crew of ten to setup, film, and pack down a twenty minute scene in a living room.

1) Exciting! Joss and Kai having their own little cross medium studio fills my little fanboy heart with ultimate joy.
2) We're shooting Lust for Love (with Mr. Fran Kranz) on a mix of Red and Canon. With the actors on union minimum, with a budget of $70k. In my head, this is possible. You'll find out the results next year.

The internet, and technology in general, are shaking up the entertainment industry. And just about everything else. It's an exciting, scary, awesome time.
Twitter has been saying it'll be shown during the film festival season. This could be a big victory in the "do-it-yourself" movie movement, and will make studios look even dumber for terrible ideas like making The Three Musketeers a steampunk mess..and Milla Jovovich a ninja in a ball gown. Teach 'em a lesson, Joss.
Come to think of it, if he can do this, why WOULDN'T we get a new Buffy movie with the original cast instead of the comic book? Firefly, too.
impalergeneral, licensing existing properties would make BUFFY and FIREFLY a non-starter. Plus, I like shiny new toys.
And here I was hoping this was actually just going to be one of Joss's famous readings, filmed.

That would have been immensely amusing. All this buzz "The man's a genius! He filmed a movie while filming a movie!" and it turns out that it's just Joss with a handheld roaming around the room while everyone reads (Most likely overly dramatically) from a couple of books. Hilarity ensues when Nathan passes off to Fran, but the pages turn & Fran starts reading from the middle of Hamlet.

Well, I'd be amused.
Squee! Wonderful cast: Wesley & Fred, together again! Captain Hammer, the perfect Dogberry! I can't wait...
Shot in glorious black and white by Jay Hunter (PAPER HEART, “Dollhouse”)...

Curiosity satisfied! :)
Jay Hunter was camera operator and second unit DP during Dollhouse S2, the year they switched to digital.
I really hope 'shown during film festival season' doesn't mean it won't be made avaiable online as well. Don't get me wrong, I want Joss and his 'do-it-yourself' movie movement to knock the socks off of everybody, but I'm also painfully aware of the fact that it's highly unlikely for me to be able to get to a screening.
"...because it is fancy."

Gotta love a man who writes funny press releases.

There are things on TV less funny than this!

A Fillion/Lenk double act.

The rest of the film can be pants as far as I care, that will do me just fine.

[ edited by ZodKneelsFirst on 2011-10-24 19:13 ]
2012 was already shaping up to be my absolute favorite movie year ever. Add another excellent expectation to the cause. Mindblowing. Can't wait.

It's in glorious black and white, but I wonder if we can expect pops of color like the drink that Fran Kranz is holding on the website...

[ edited by DreamRose311 on 2011-10-24 19:23 ]
From Tom Lenk on twitter:

"What the press release doesn't include is that the 'Stache was Joss's idea."
I was at a screening of a film the other day, and my friend swore he saw Tom Lenk there. But we both dismissed the idea, because Tom Lenk "doesn't have a mustache."

What could be more perfect? Shakespeare and Whedon - I am looking forward to seeing this.
So does this explain this?
If someone from YouTube were smart they'd contact Joss about one of their upcoming premium channels.
The principal cast is full of WhedonTV alums...and Clark Gregg. Hopefully he won't feel/hasn't felt left out (not that any of them would do it intentionally...) of the inevitable reunioning.
I love the last line of the release. Spot on Quotergal.
Isn't the previous works of actors that are mentioned in the releasse a bit weird? No Dollhouse for Reed Diamond for example.

I was kind of wishing this was a web project. Because if it's a film that'll go to the festivals and all, it definitely delays our, the international audience', pleasure since the eventual theatrical/DVD release is now even further away.
under rug swept, I wouldn't make any assumptions that this film's release (even if it goes the festival route) would follow the same timing or path as other films. I'm guessing they will be trying to break some molds with this.
Smart, too, and telling, that Joss and Kai dub Bellwether a "micro-studio", not a "new media studio". Size, speed, and approach; not medium.
Re the timing.

He's about to appear on every single TV programme in the world to talk about The Avengers.

And if some of those journalists happen to ask him about this project too it would be rude not to answer.

Or would Marvel have him killed?
(I have to say - Marvel seem like nice folk to me).
A litle late here, but gossi is right about my "why not a Buffy movie practically handmade by Joss" fantasy, but I can dream, can't I? It just proves we don't need loud 3-D movies to be entertained...Three Steampunk-ateers. The play's the thing, and so is the technology to get it done at reasonable prices.
Heck, maybe Joss is being Spielberg, just in a different way.
Are micro-studios run by mini-moguls?
I love everything about this. Everything. Except for the fact that it looks like it will be going to festivals, which means it is much less likely for most of us to get to see it, correct?

Well if Joss can create a film, maybe fans can create film festivals so his film can be shown there? There must be some local independent film makers who would jump at the chance to show their movie at a festival in their area.
That's a good idea, Simon. Several people have already suggested it would be great to use it in conjunction with CSTS to raise money for Equality Now - and other charities.

2012 - The Year of the Joss!
2012: The Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers, Much Ado About Nothing, Equality Now's 20th anniversary, and Firefly's 10th anniversary.
I'm very interested in how self-described feminist Joss has adapted the original MAAN play for his own shooting script. The "nothing" which was the subject of the "much ado" in the original was the belief that Hero was not a virgin and thus not worthy of marriage, or about the least feminist premise for a comedic farce one could come up with. So it will be interesting to see if he goes with it as originally written for an Elizabethan society audience, or a more modern one audience which allows women more choices on the acceptable sexuality spectrum than just "virgin" and "whore."

[ edited by BrewBunny on 2011-10-24 21:14 ]
Yes, that was what I meant. It should be all Joss, all year. :D
Maybe I can get Lust For Love and this film to the same Turkish film festival. I wonder how the festival organisers decides the movies they screen.
Let's not forget 2012 is Buffy's 15th anniversary...and that movie's 20th anniversary, too. Now THAT should make us old.
I believe it is DIY, not DYI. You know, Do It Yourself. Sorry, it's just driving me crazy.

Oh, and this is really, really awesome and something I was expecting from the big guy.
Maybe DYI is some new acronym. Like Drive Yourself Insane.

I hope the world doesn't end until after all the movies come out.
2012- what an awesome year. Count down begins?
"Do yourself, idiots!"
Well, I just discovered all the threads on this project moments ago. So, sorry to divert the thread from DYI, but this totally lifts my spirits! I cannot wait for the new year and all the new Joss-projects. How does the man do it???
FWIW, since it was wondered: this apparently is not a "Mutant Enemy for Bellwether Pictures" thing the way Dr. Horrible was a "Mutant Enemy for Timescience Bloodclub" thing, but just Bellwether.
I think it might be "Do Yourself In."

Which is just so cruel. I think I'll protest or boycott them or something.

[ Part of comment snipped. Please don't link or paste comments from on other sites here. It leads nowhere good. -- Sunfire ]
The press release makes it sound like he is sticking with the text as written to me. That coupled with the Fran in snorkel image makes me think of something along the lines of Romeo + Juliet. This saddens me. I will still watch it because it's Joss, but I really don't like the mental gymnastics of deciphering Elizabethan English while trying to keep up with the plot. I prefer to decipher Jossisms while not caring that I missed a plot point due to laughing my ass off.
As a proud (and as far as I know sole) member of the Everything Looks Better in Black and White Society - I highly approve.

And imo only fools mess with Shakespeare's words.
QuoterGal, Joss is just as mind numbingly self-important as parents who keep their kids' presents secret until Christmas morning.
Monday's can be so boring...what I wouldn't do for some exciting Joss news. ;)
I've read the press release four times. Just to make me happy.
BrewBunny - ; ] Exactly, or perhaps just as mind-numbingly self-important as a quail who keeps her nest of eggs hidden so blundering creatures won't step on it & squish them before they hatch.
So his publicity strategy was: Nothing Ado About Much.
I suspect we'll find the big party at the end of Act 1 is a pool party. It makes sense for Claudio to be in th pool while certain conversations happen.

Yes, I am already a Shakespeare nerd as much as I'm a Joss-nerd.

My mind is numbed by sheer awe and lust to see this. Now.

Are we nearly there yet?
all over this. go joss. you're on a roll.
I'm not going to grouse too much about the casting because getting to see this production and how Joss handles Shakespeare is like Halloween, Christmas, Easter, winning the Lotto, and Arbor Day rolled into one. But I would so have loved seeing Nathan and Sean in each other's roles. Sean is usually so serious and Nathan is too good at comedy.
How exciting! Such great news, I can't wait to see how this comes out...especially after seeing the names of the cast.
In response to something further upthread, let's not respond to comments on other sites in threads here, please. It is against our rules. I didn't snip the entire exchange but I did remove the original link and response.
Too excited for this. Just... absolutely fantastic!

I wonder if Joss' micro-studio needs an intern/assistant. Or someone to run their social media constantly. /wishful dreaming

I'm very excited to see if Joss tackled the Elizabethan English, god I hope so. I love Shakespeare.
Joss is one busy guy. If post-production on "The Avengers" isn't enough, he has to go and run himself ragged doing a micro-budget film too. Not complaining, but divvying up post-production time on two movies is going to be exhausting.

If buzz on "Cabin in the Woods" and "The Avengers" is really good, then some studio should make a pre-emptive strike and buy the distribution rights to "Much Ado About Nothing", post-haste. I'd love to see all three movies in my multiplex.
Joss + micro-studio=
happy dance happy dance happy dance!
It's a fantastic play and I loved the Branagh version. I usually don't dig modernized Shakespeare, but if anyone can make it work, Joss can. I think the most promising aspect of the venture is that it sounds like it grew organically out of Shakespeare readings among close friends who all happen to be professional actors/performers and who all apparently share a love of the source material (and each other). I doubt any Shakespeare film exists that can claim such a happy origin story. And I'm certain that it can only have a positive effect on the end result. Soooooo . . . hey nonny nonny!
Back in 2005 I said on Whedonesque "I'd love to see Joss directing 'his' actors in a Shakespear movie. Branagh's Much Ado was great in making the bards work more popular by casting young, mainstream, actors. A movie, directed by Joss, with minimalist sets and all our BDH (from all three series) could be made very cheaply and sold direct to DVD mail order to all us fans.

Where can I pre-order?

Well, it's been six years but I still want to pre order....
We could do an Occupy Film Festival. We're all set up for that in Philadelphia. Our occupation has a big screen available to us. ;c)
Does Shakespeare + Whedon = Shwhedon? I ask in case it becomes a genre unto itself.
Oooh. That's a really important question. (I'm hoping for genre spawning, but it would be a lot of swimming upstream.) ...*think, think, think*...


Definitely not "Whakespeare" I think, because it sounds too much like incidental lisping which would lead to masses of people spouting off about "ma-wage."

I kinda like "Shedon." It's got a nice snappy feel to it.
Actually, if Shakespeare is really Anonymous as the recent film suggests, it could be:


I'm imagining the various combinations when he is called Josh (as has already happened in the comment sections of various websites surrounding MAAN).

I've wondered for a long time why new media content had to be modeled on TV or movies, when there were so many possibilities for repertory stuff like in the theatre.
I vote for Schwhedon. But mainly because it's fun to say. Like schwing!
And because it reminds us of that Joe Sweden guy :)
You know, all the existing examples of Joss Whedon's signature are spelt differently.

There's very little we actuallly know about him for sure.

In fact it's rumoured that all his plays were written by someone else. Possible candidates include:

Jane Espenson
Kai Cole
Rhys Ifans
Dean Devlin
Russ Meyer

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