Batavia Players to premiere ‘Macbeth’ movie Saturday

Jan 11, 2018

BATAVIA — “Be bloody, bold, and resolute. Laugh to scorn the power of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth.”

This Saturday, the red carpet will be rolled out at the Harvester 56 Theater, 56 Harvester Ave., as the movie premiere of “Macbeth” enters stage left.

Filmed in Batavia, the contemporary take on “Macbeth” is the first movie to be filmed entirely in the city. Pat Burk, director, said the Batavia Players talked for quite awhile about doing an actual movie of a Shakespeare play, and wrote a grant through GO ART! for seed money to start filming.

“We picked ‘Macbeth’ because of length, familiarity and because we wanted to make it contemporary in the city of Batavia,” he said.

Even though the film is contemporary, none of the dialogue has been changed since it was first written and performed in 1606.

Dorothy Gerhart, who plays Hecate — the goddess of witchcraft — and murderer number one, said she tries to speak the words like she does normally.

“Which is kind of hard with the iambic pentameter (a type of metrical line in traditional English poetry and verse drama),” she laughed. “Normally people don’t go around speaking in iambic pentameter.”

Adam Dixson, who plays Macbeth, said the main thing he wanted to convey is come off as kind of crazy.

“The fact is (Macbeth) just didn’t decide he wanted to be a bad guy. He kind of went through a lot of decisions that lead to him becoming a bad guy,” he said. “I enjoyed thinking about those things, what lead him to become what he was.”

The main thing Dixson wanted to convey with Macbeth was that he didn’t want him to be the main villain — that his wife played a big part, too.

The movie took nine months to film, clocking in 300 hours of film time. The editing process took 18 months; none of the crew knew how to edit, so they worked extensively with SUNY Brockport in the film editing lab where they were taught how to do frame by frame editing. The crew worked hard to make sure the audience couldn’t tell what time of year the scenes were shot in. Gerhart said with the scenes being shot out of order and not knowing what scenes will be shot until either the day before or day of, there wasn’t a lot of rehearsal time.

The hardest part about the filming, however, was the cold, according to Nash Johns, who plays Seyton — Macbeth’s chief servant.

“It was -3 degrees (when we were shooting in the warehouse), standing in frozen puddles of water,” he said.

In addition to the cold, length of time and scheduling was like a zoo, Burk said.

While filming, the biggest adjustment for Johns was getting used to the camera and not be bothered by the surroundings; Burk added with shots, the cameras were literally in the actors’ faces. Shooting some scenes also had some unexpected issues as well. Seyton said when he got shot and hit the floor, he had to hold back laughter when a giant cloud of dust went up in his face because he wasn’t expecting it.

“I had to stab somebody. It was a steel blade, not collapsible or anything, so I had to make sure I didn’t stab anyone,” Gerhart added.

Burk told the story of when the crew was filming in Centennial Park, the same dog wouldn’t stop barking.

“It literally took forever,” he said. “It took seven, maybe eight minutes in the movie total and most everybody was there for one whole night.”

There were some differences between being an actor on stage and an actor in a movie the cast had to get to as well. Gerhart said the scenes were shot out of order and Seyton said with the audience on the other side of a screen, it was hard to judge how long to leave for a pause for a reaction. Dixson added with film, there was a lot more to be said for the director as the quality and production value is largely based on what the director does and decides.

With “Macbeth” finished, the Batavia Players are already discussing filming the next movie, already narrowing it down to three productions — two of which are Shakespeare.

The premiere of “Macbeth” will begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Those who attend will be able to purchase the DVD, posters, shirts and the soundtrack, which was written by Justin Reynolds of Pembroke, who played Careo. Afterwards the movie will be going on the road and travel as far as Canandaigua.

Tickets for the premiere cost $15 in advance and $18 at the door. They are available through DailyNewsTickets.com.

By Mallory Diefenbach, Batavia Daily News