The filmmaker and stars of “R#J,” a modern-day adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic romantic tragedy “Romeo and Juliet,” explored the importance of representation for young people and the unique format of the film.

Director Carey Williams and stars Francesca Noel (Juliet), Camaron Engels (Romeo), Diego Tinoco (Tybalt) and Siddiq Saunderson (Mercutio) spoke to the Variety Studio presented by AT&T TV at Sundance Film Festival about reimagining the timeless tale for young audiences. The cast and filmmaker stressed spreading a positive message through the movie and ensuring its authenticity while bringing Shakespeare to a new generation.

The film, which is told entirely through the screens of mobile phones, sees the Montagues and Capulets in the middle of a heated social media feud, with Juliet and Romeo caught in the crossfire.

“A lot of the stuff that’s in the final version was not written,” Williams said. “That’s one of the great things about the format — as we’re editing, we’re getting new ideas … it was a lot of fun to just sit there and try things and see what made us laugh, what made us feel.”

Noel and the rest of the cast reflected on the story’s legacy and emphasized the necessity of retelling it through a diverse cast.

“I found it a privilege and honor to do because we’re so used to seeing white people in these roles and to have, now, a cast of color — I think just in 25 years since the Baz Luhrmann movie — that’s one generation that has just wanted this radical shift of how we see the world and its representation,” Noel said. “I think that’s a really beautiful thing, and I only wanted to celebrate it when I saw it.”