What's Happening

Shakespeare in Yosemite: post-production editor Brandon Cooper

By Cymbeline Anthropocene on Aug 27, 2021 at 01:34 PM in Project News
Interview with Shakespeare in Yosemite post-production editor Brandon Cooper

While filming Imogen in the Wild, Shakespeare in Yosemite’s research assistant Monica Perales interviewed the cast and crew about their experience adapting Cymbeline. Our fourth instalment from Perales’s interviews is with Brandon Cooper, a member of the post-production editing team.

Monica Perales: What has been your involvement in this production?

Brandon Cooper: I’m doing video editing.

MP: What does the post-production process look like right now?

BC: Right now, we are meeting once a week. There's three of us being student editors, and basically, we've all been given hard drives. We've been given kind of the assignments like, “You do these scenes, you those scenes,” and we meet and go over what we'll be doing. If we finish scenes, we will send them to our professor or to Katie or Shawn, who is kind of like the head video dude. We have been getting tips like, “Fix this, fix that,” but also have three video editors. We also have been chatting on Discord and helping each other before we move it to the higher up, so to speak. So yeah, there's been a lot of different levels of communication. It's worked very well. You know, I'm actually familiar with video editing, but this is the first time doing a big project like this, and especially over the pandemic it's been interesting but it's worked pretty well so far.

MP: What is your experience with Shakespeare, and what drew you to this project?

BC: Well, I've had experience with Shakespeare over the years. I'm an English major, so you know, it kind of goes hand-in-hand with the major, whether you like it or not. But I've enjoyed Shakespeare over the years. This is the first semester where I've had a class that deals specifically with Shakespeare, and actually that's kind of what drew me to the project because Katie [Brokaw], who is handling the movie, is also my professor. She gave a lot of students the opportunity to work on it as an assignment. But, you know, honestly, I think I would. I love video editing and taking the raw pieces of a story that aren't really a story yet and putting them together and making them coherent. So honestly, I would probably enjoy doing something like this even if it was completely detached from school.

MP: Awesome. What is your personal experience with environmentalism and ecotheatre?

BC: I mean, to be honest, I don't really have any experience with ecotheatre at all; and in terms of the environment, I mean, I haven't done any kind of outward protests or anything like that, but I grew up in nature. I grew up in the foothills. I didn't grow up in the city, so all my life I've been immersed in nature. Lots of trips to Yosemite as a kid, lots of hiking and adventuring in the backyard of my house. We had a couple acres, but then there was other people's property that I wandered onto, so my personal experience with that has more of been like my playground as a child not having access to parks and stuff, because inherently growing up in the foothills you don't have the same kind of stuff as you do in the city. Nature was my park and playground. I have had a lot of running around, hiking as an adult, and just experiencing the very reason why it's important to protect all of this. I think it's important for people's mental health and having access to nature and being outside of the concrete jungle and seeing green and natural environments and hearing quiet. It's just extremely important to someone's mental health.

MP: How do you think ecotheatrical productions can impact environmental consciousness in the public, the cast, the crew, the audience, sort of, anybody that can come in contact with this film?

BC: As an English major, I think of myself as a storyteller. I love to read, and I love to write. To get more general about it, I think anytime you can take something that's political and something that's important and if you just outright try to explain to someone why it's important, it can sometimes - you get the political divide that comes into that kind of stuff. Anytime you can take something like that and tell it in the form of a story where people can then relate to characters and to events and make them more personable, I think that you can change hearts and change minds; or at the very least, you can get people to think about things differently. I think doing this play and especially Shakespeare, everyone, whether you like Shakespeare or not, you've probably seen a shadow, a rendition of a movie. There's lots of modern movies that are re-imaginings of Shakespeare's plays, so everybody has had an experience with Shakespeare. If you can take an important political idea and message and you can put it into something that people are familiar with, it goes back to what I was saying earlier about it being a more palatable way to try to explain these concepts and ideas to people.

MP: What do you hope viewers will take away from this performance?

BC: I hope that, like I was saying with the last question, you know through storytelling, it'll become more personal for them. Most likely people that are up in Yosemite watching this are already going to agree with those ideas, but the cool thing about what we're doing this year and the fact that it's a movie is that it's going to be easily viewed and easily seen. I hope that people will be able to see this message in a different way. That is like I said, less political and less volatile and just kind of see it for its simple message: this is our home, and just like you don't want your house to be set on fire or you don't want your air conditioning to not be working properly, you also want that same thing for the world so we can continue to live comfortably and move on to the future. 

MP: What has been a highlight of your involvement with this production? 

BC: Well, I think maybe the interconnectivity, you know, it's kind of an oxymoron because we’re all stuck in our homes, and I work from home. I go to school from home, yet we're able to film something, then we're able to get that film into the hands of people, and we’re all working on this. Like it's inherently separate and together in the same way because we have to get this done as a group yet we haven't - I've not even met one person that I'm working with before. I haven't even met my teacher. So, it's pretty cool to see this. This happens in an environment that just 30 years ago would have been impossible, or maybe even just 20 years ago. We're able to make a movie and obviously, some of it has to be physical, you have to film, you have to have people together to do that, but it's kind of cool. At least from my part in the project, everything can be completed online. Which, of course, you know, in some ways, it would be better to be in-person, but it's still pretty cool that we live in a world where that's possible. So I think just seeing it in action, seeing that interconnectivity. Well, everybody being so far away and kind of, you know, shut-in has been pretty cool. 

MP: In a similar vein, I think you sort of already touched on this, but I would love to have it fully fleshed out. What has been the biggest challenge within that? 

BC: It kind of goes to that concept of sometimes you're sending a text message, and you're like, you know what, maybe I should just call this person. I think this is more important. This is more sensitive or important than just a simple text, because a lot of the times when you send an email or you're reading text, you don't hear the tone, you don't hear that because things get lost in not having that face-to-face connection. I think even Zoom and stuff, that has been like a godsend for a pandemic. It still doesn't completely replace that human face-to-face, one-on-one kind of interaction that you get in person and not to contradict what I just said, but I think it does benefit sometimes for certain aspects to be meeting in-person. But to be honest, I don't really feel like it's been much of a challenge. There's always times when being face-to-face and talking, it's just more coherent. 

MP: Sounds good. I just have one other question. Do you have any other thoughts that you'd like to share about your experience? Any fun facts about how it's been going, or anything you think would be helpful for us to know? 

BC: It has been cool seeing the scrappiness of people who are devoted to something. It's literally called Shakespeare in Yosemite, and the intention was that these plays are done in-person and in nature. There is such a human connection to art and nature that goes hand-in-hand, but because of the pandemic, that's not possible, and so I think it's pretty cool that people were able to figure out a solution that still kind of maintains the spirit of Shakespeare in Yosemite but also protects your fellow human and helping to speed this end to the pandemic up quicker.

Interview with Shakespeare in Yosemite post-production editor Brandon Cooper