Sometimes, when you need to learn some filmmaking lessons, it's best to turn all the way back to the classics. And I mean the William Shakespeare classics.

Shakespeare's timeless tale of star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, is a masterpiece filled with iconic scenes that continue to inspire storytellers to this day.

Of course, the best and most important one is the balcony scene.

Let's delve into three key takeaways from this iconic scene that can elevate your filmmaking prowess.

Watch the 'Romeo & Juliet' Balcony Scene with Josh O'Connor and Jessie Buckley

I love watching Josh O'Connor (The Crown) as Romeo, and Jessie Buckley (Chernobyl) as Juliet in this National Theatre recording of the William Shakespeare classic tragic play.

They feel perfect in the roles, and they embody all of the specialness of this play and why it's stood the test of time.

We all know Shakespeare's classic iambic pentameter have a musicality to them, but we often forget the visuals laid into his plays as well, the kinds of things that make your imagination run wild.

I think there are a ton of lessons for filmmakers in just this scene alone. So let's go over a few of them together.

Filmmaking Lessons from The Romeo & Juliet Balcony Scene

Romeo + Juliet


When I think about the balcony scene in the many iterations of this play, I think about three main lessons filmmakers should take away:

  1. The Power of Visual Storytelling: The scene is visually iconic, with Juliet framed by the balcony, bathed in moonlight. This communicates the characters' isolation and longing. We want them to be together but they are physically and metaphorically separate. This enhances the emotional impact of their dialogue. Filmmakers can learn to use visual elements like framing and lighting to strengthen their storytelling and create memorable moments.
  2. Dialogue as a Tool for Character Development: Romeo and Juliet's exchange on the balcony reveals their personalities, motivations, and the depth of their love. Filmmakers can use dialogue not only to advance the plot but also to create multi-dimensional characters that resonate with audiences.
  3. The Importance of Setting: The balcony setting creates a sense of intimacy and secrecy, heightening the scene's romantic tension. It feels like a character unto itself. Filmmakers can learn to use setting and atmosphere to enhance the mood of their scenes and create a more immersive experience for viewers. We can really steep ourselves in the emotion here and feel the stakes for this couple thanks to where we are and the air around us. The balcony scene is set at night, adding to the sense of forbidden love and danger.
  4. Subverting Expectations: The balcony scene is a prime example of dramatic irony, where the audience knows more than the characters on screen. We are aware of the feud between the Montagues and Capulets, and we understand the potential danger of Romeo and Juliet's love and also why they both need to actually feel love, which can make them safe. This creates a sense of suspense and anticipation, as we watch the characters navigate their feelings while oblivious to the impending tragedy.

By studying the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet, filmmakers can gain valuable insights into the art of visual storytelling, character development, and the creation of atmosphere and mood.

Let me know what you think on the comments.