Whedonites everywhere have been rejoicing for the past couple weeks, as Joss Whedon and his wife, Kai Cole, announced the formation of a new “micro-studio”, Bellwether Pictures.
According to the press release posted on October 24th, Bellwether will be dedicated to “the production of small, independent narratives for all media” while “embracing a DIY ethos and newer technologies.”
They have also announced the first two projects to be developed by Bellwether: A modernized adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” and a new, original film by Whedon called “In Your Eyes”.
Much Ado About Something: Joss Whedon + Shakespeare?
Tons of press has been coming in about Whedon’s version of “Much Ado About Nothing”, the first official production from Bellwether pictures, since they dropped the internet bomb on us. Here’s some of what we know so far:
- It was filmed in 12 days at Whedon’s own home
- It will maintain the original Shakespearean dialogue
- It will be a black-and-white film
- The costume designer dressed the actors in clothes from their own closets
- New, original music has been composed for the film
- The cast includes several alumni from Whedon’s past productions, including Amy Acker (“Angel”, “Dollhouse”) and Alexis Denisof (“Buffy”, “Angel”, “Dollhouse”) as Beatrice and Benedick (Full cast listing can be found on the film’s official site)
I, for one, am really looking forward to seeing how this venture turns out. In a lot of ways, the frenzy surrounding this whole ordeal reminds me of the lead up to the release of Joss’s now-infamous low-budget response to the writer’s strike, “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”. While “Much Ado” is clearly more serious than “Dr. Horrible”, if it’s anywhere near as well-done, it will be awesome. Honestly, I’m just hoping it doesn’t turn out like that horrible “Romeo and Juliet” movie from the 90s with Leonardo DiCaprio. Yikes.
“In Your Eyes”
Far less has come to light about the second Bellwether project, partly because it isn’t as far along in production as “Much Ado”. All that is known, so far, is that it will be a supernatural romance with an original script penned by Whedon and that Brin Hill will direct.
At first, I read the words “supernatural romance” and rolled my eyes. Don’t we have enough of those floating around already? But then, I thought, that is what Joss does best, after all. From there, I quickly progressed into “Yeah! That’s right! Show ’em how it’s done!” mode.
The biggest surprise, to me, is that Joss isn’t directing the film himself. That hasn’t happened since the very early days of “Buffy”. It should be interesting to see how this turns out. I also can’t help but feel sorry for Brin Hill. If “In Your Eyes” doesn’t turn out as expected, he will get all of the blame.
Why I Really Love This Idea
I’ve already given my reasons for being excited about the individual films, but there is more to it than that.
The concept of Bellwether Pictures, in general, with it’s admitted DIY ethos, is reminiscent of the attitude of the underground punk scene in the 70s and 80s–minus the spiky hair and safety pins. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been one of those “Down with corporations!” types, but I’ve always been fascinated, and inspired, by the amazing things people manage to create on their own dime. Getting to watch one of my idols do it makes it all the sweeter.