Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fights on Film Seminars

Jan Bryant, Dan Speaker and I have put together a really informative, exciting and entertaining seminar on the Basic Techniques for Filming Action. During the seminar we discuss the idea that Action must be an integral part of your Script and must tell part of your Story.

Then we demonstrate safety in hand-to-hand fighting, bladed weaponry and gun handling.

After that, we hook up a camera and actually shoot 3 different scenes explaining camera angles and the techniques you can use to make your action sequences look violent and nasty without endangering anyone in your cast or crew.

We have done this seminar for the USC Film School and the Alliance of Women Directors in Los Angeles. We will be taking this seminar to colleges and film schools across the country. If you are associated with a film school or college that would like us to spend a few days with them to share how fun, challenging and safe their action scenes can be, just let me know!

"I really want to thank you for your attention to detail, and the thoughtful way you organized the presentation.  It was lovely seeing everybody projected on the big screen.  I thought that worked really well and everybody said what helpful information in general you provided them." - Jennifer Warren - USC School of Cinematic Arts

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pirates 4

I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides yesterday! It was a good movie. Well structured, everything that happened had a nice set up and follow through. Nothing confusing. Penelope Cruz and Johnny Depp worked great together. I loved Ian McShane as Blackbeard. The little romance between the missionary and the mermaid was sweet.

The battle scenes were okay, nothing extraordinary about the sword fighting or the action in general. Just a nice movie - pretty ho hum...There is a scene after the credits finish...did you stay that long?

Waiting for DVD or Blue Ray is fine with this one.
Battle on!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

FIGHT CLASS The Series Episode 2 Game of Thrones posts TONIGHT!

What an incredible week! Spent lots of time editing the Fight Class The Series episode.

Watched the first episode of Season 2 for Vampire Mob!! Awesomeness! Check it out:

I attended a Stunt Burn seminar on Thursday and got to light my finger on fire - that was so cool!

I got a day job for the next few weeks - so I can continue to support my filmmaking obsession! WOOT! And I got to chat with some friends I haven't seen in months! Just fabulous!

FIGHT CLASS The Series goes live tonight!! Episode 2 - Game of Thrones!! Don't miss it!

Battle on!

Sunday, June 5, 2011


WOW! We launched the series a week ago and we have about 1000 views! I so didn't expect that and it's wonderful. Thanks so much to everyone who has been watching. We shoot the next episode on 6/15 and it is going to be awesome!

Thanks again!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I saw PRIEST today (spoilers)

I was really excited to see PRIEST. I absolutely loved the trailer. I think Paul Bettany is an amazing actor and how cool for him to get to do an action flick! Then I got to the theatre and the only showing was in 3D - so I paid the extra $5, got my little glasses and headed into the AMC 3D experience. The previews for the other movies were seriously loud! The chairs vibrated in a way that brought to mind the 'Sensurround Sound' movies of the 70's. Earthquake in particular - yes I am that old. The last half of the previews were 3D previews so I put my glasses on and got ready to be totally entertained!

The movie is stunning. You can immediately tell that most of the $60 million budget ( of this film went to the Visual FX department. The acting is really solid, the story is your basic 'Save Princess Zelda' scenario. The over all problem I found with this film was that when the 'Princess was saved' - nothing happened. This movie has no climax. HA! I couldn't believe it! I think the climax for this movie is supposed to take place in the sequel. But, you know, hey, the Visual FX were awesome.

Let's talk about action a bit. The action starts out cool and interesting to watch. The priests in the film are supposed to be the only beings that have the fighting capabilities to defeat the vampires. So the priests have their own fighting style and lots of cool gadgets - I love gadgets in a post apocalyptic film! I'm a geek, what can I say? This priest fight style is real consistent through the first two major battles. Paul Bettany, and his stunt doubles, look amazing as he grapples with the vampires, practically crawling sometimes, throwing the cross gadgets and torturing a 'familiar.' Then Maggie Q (and stunt double Linda Jewell) joins him and they team up to fight a massive Vampire Hive Protector. It's awesome.

But then when 3 other priests face off with the the Bad Vampire - the priest fight style disappears. Suddenly one of the priests - played by the absolutely amazing Arnold Chon - executes an attack on the Bad  Vampire that is pure Movie Martial Arts and completely different from everything we have seen up to this point! Then Arnold doesn't even get a chance to fight, the bad guy is supposedly so bad that he can just put his fist through a priests body and kill him. Arnold Chon is an incredibly talented stunt man and movement artist and he was used simply as bad guy fodder. At least they had a great shot of his face before they burned him on a funeral pyre.

I was so disappointed that they didn't continue to develop and show off more and more of the priest fighting style as the movie progressed. What other gadgets did they use? The Bad Vampire was an ex priest so why didn't they show him fighting using a fusion of priest/vamp style? From then on the action in the movie is basically the same we see all the time in movies. Maggie Q clotheslines a bad guy to get him off his motorcycle. The Good Priest and the Bad Vampire fight on top of a moving train for way too long...then the train blows up...that was cool...great Visual FX...

I would wait for video on this one. It will be just as exciting on a big screen HD TV as it was in the '3D Experience!'... with Sensurround Sound!

Battle on!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Games of Thrones Broadsword Choreography (Spoiler Alert)

First of all I absolutely love this series. I have read all the books - twice. I am a huge Sean Bean fan. The ambush by the bandits ROCKED. The the Jory kill was BRILLIANT! But I had a huge problem with the Jamie  Lannister /Ned Stark fight last night. Sheesh! It was such a let down and I know what probably happened, but I still had higher expectations.

The fight at the end of last night's episode between Jamie and Ned does not occur in the book. But of course, writers and producers look at that moment and think, "Excellent opportunity for a hero fight! Let's illustrate the feud between the two houses through this awesome fight between the head guys!" GREAT IDEA!!! I loved it when I realized what was happening...then they fought.

They were seriously too close for broadsword fighting. Yes, many people half sword the broadsword (grab halfway down the blade) in close quarter broadsword fighting (which wreaks havoc on your hands). But they didn't do that here. It looked as if the camera operator just said, "Can't they be closer together?" and so they got closer. And that takes the drama out of the entire encounter. If you can't swing the broadsword, you cannot get any power behind the stroke. If there is no power in your swing, the believability goes out the window. At one point they turned the fight 180 degrees using their backs as the pivot - because their backs were touching. Why didn't one of them grab the other and throw him down or something?  There were so many possibilities!  Perhaps the choreography had proper spacing - but the actors listened to the camera operator and 'got closer.'

Another thing that will happen on set is you will spend a ton of time putting together the choreography with the stunt doubles, but you never have time to rehearse with the leads. Many times you are teaching the leads their choreography as the scene is being shot. And the doubles cannot do the fight because it will take too much time and the camera has to be on top of the fight.

Enough! I have a tremendous amount of respect for Buster Reeves and the work he is doing in this series. It is a massive undertaking. But when everything else looks solid, a bad fight scene is going to look even worse by comparison.

Battle on!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Isn't That Thing Sharp?

Why do people grab the blade during a sword fight? Isn't it supposed to be sharp? If you need a comparison - go into your kitchen and pull a large knife out of the butcher block. Now wrap on hand around the handle and the other around the end of the blade - yes, the sharp part. Now hold that blade in a parry 5 position over your head while someone hits the middle of the knife with broom handle. Hard.

Anything happen? I haven't tried this myself, nor do I plan to so I don't know. My point is that when you grab a blade with a bare hand during a sword fight, you destroy the illusion that there is any danger. Grabbing your opponent's blade is a last ditch effort - and not something just to be thrown in because it's cool. There are consequences to grabbing the blade during a fight so be prepared to play them out.

Battle on!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


FIVE FAST was way better than I expected it to be! Some of the stunts were over the top...well most of the stunts were over the top, but it was extremely entertaining. And yes, it did need all of those stunt coordinators I listed in my last post. I was happy to see them listed in the credits also. There was a train sequence, a car falling into a gorge sequence, a free running chase sequence - I saw on a talk show the actors were saying they did their own stunts. They always say that. They didn't say we did ALL of our own stunts. But the doubling was done extremely well. I was looking for it so I could see where the shifts were made, but overall the doubling was nearly invisible.

The car stunts and precision driving sequences were spectacular. I absolutely loved the vault being dragged through downtown Rio de Janeiro! Again, totally over the top and impossible but that's what movie magic is supposed to do! The vault was dragged behind 2 of the muscle cars and the drivers worked together to swing it like a giant flail and take out the entire corrupt police force!

I expected the story to be thin - but it really wasn't. It dealt with some of the universal themes that are really important - Look after your family, stick together and keep your word. Of course you get to do all of this while taking out the entire Brazilian mob and destroying millions of dollars worth of public property! HA! But what a great setting for an all out action picture. This is a 'must see' for action fans!

There is definitely going to be a Fast 6!

From Fightmaven's Corner, living life one little victory at a time

Going to see FAST FIVE today!

So I am researching Fast FIve a bit before I go see it. From what I am finding there's serious action in this film! It was shot in Georgia, California, Arizona, Puerto Rico and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil so it is definitely an international crew. I am really looking forward to this!

It has several stunt coordinators listed in IMDB:
Mike Gunther - Supervising Stunt coordinator
Gary Hymes - Stunt coordinator 2nd unit
Kyle Woods - Assistant Stunt coordinator
Agnaldo Bueno - stunt coordinator: Brazil
Spiro Razatos - Stunt Coordinator
Jack Gill - Stunt coordinator 2nd unit

James M. Churchmen - additional stunt coordinator


Monday, May 9, 2011

Moving On

I have moved my blog over here to blogger. Tumblr just kept breaking down. So I will be busy posting here from now!