How Disney+'s Hamilton Was Shot Over Three Days

Maria Reynolds in Hamilton

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Broadway musicals have been known to have an affect on pop culture, but the sensation that Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton has become is truly unprecedented. The show became a smash hit after its debut on Broadway in 2015, eventually winning an outstanding 11 Tony Awards, as well as a Pulitzer and Grammy. The show has filmed back in 2016 to immortalize the original cast of principal actors, with the Hamilton movie set to arrive on Disney+ in a matter of days. And now we know exactly how the iconic Broadway performance was captured on film.

The upcoming Hamilton movie for Disney+ is directed by Thomas Kail, who also won a Tony for directing Hamilton for the stage. Capturing the show's dizzying choreography, lighting, and characters is a unique challenge, and now we know exactly how Kail and company made this vision into a reality. I was recently on a digital press conference with Hamilton's cast and crew, where the director peeled back the curtain on how exactly the show was captured for film. He said,

We shot the whole thing in 3 days. June 26th, June 27th, and June 28th of 2016. So we captured two live performances: a Sunday matinee and a Tuesday evening performance. And then we had a little bit of time Sunday night, we had a little bit of time Tuesday morning, and then we had all day Monday to be on stage without an audience. So the show that we did with an audience did not stop. The cameras were positioned in the audience, the audience sat around them. All the cameras were in the house or off stage. And we just ran the show as we always did.

It's fascinating to see how the sausage gets made, especially coming from someone who knows Hamilton so intimately. Thomas Kail knew exactly where to put a camera and focus while filming the Broadway cast, as he had conceptualized the show's blocking and direction. This deep connection with the show will no doubt make for a thrilling experience as an audience, with Disney+ subscribers all over the world able to be in the room where it happened.

Hamilton will be available exclusively on Disney+. You can use this link to sign up for the new streaming service.

As Thomas Kail explains, the Hamilton movie will be a mixture of live audience performances, and a day that allowed for a more invasive use of camera work. During his same press conference, Kail went on to explain how that day with an empty theater helped to enhance the filming process, saying:

We shot 13 or 14 of the numbers, there’s 46 total, outside of those two live shows. So we had a few numbers where we were able to get on stage with a steadicam or have a camera on a crane, or on a dolly. Just to give a different feel to some of the proximity we can have with the company.

Well, this makes a great deal of sense. By splicing together the two live performances and day of close-up filming, it sounds like Disney+'s Hamilton will be a truly immersive experience for audience. And as such, the many fans of the show will get to see just how layered the show is, and can see the original actors in the roles that have been played on repeat thanks to the Grammy-winning soundtrack.

One of those OG Hamilton stars is Altered Carbon actress Renee Elise Goldsberry, who won a Tony Award for her performance as Angelica Schuyler. I had the chance to speak with Goldbserry about the Hamilton movie, where she clarified how her material in particular was approached. She said,

Most of my stuff was filmed during the actual performances. It was three days: two performances and one day in between where they came and we got close-ups shots. Most of my stuff looking at it I think was all shot actually during the show, and not at the separate day with the close-ups.

That's one thing to look out for one Hamilton becomes available for streaming. Because despite the various camera angles that will be utilized throughout the movie's runtime, most of Renee Elise Goldsberry's work as Angelica is apparently from the uninterrupted live performances. And it sounds like Angelica is finally satisfied, as Goldsberry is excited to share Hamilton with an even wider audience.

Hamilton will arrive on Disney+ on July 3rd. In the meantime, check out our 2020 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.