In preparing for a fight, it can take days, to weeks, to months preparing an actor and even myself for a scene, based upon it’s complexity, number of characters/cameras being used, the risk factors, and understanding of what type of visual fx will be used (Practical or Visual).
Above all… Safety is key. To truly sell to the camera and suspend the audience belief, the fight has to be a close to reality as one can safely deliver, without compromising the safety of your talent, stunt actors, even equipment. Some attacks (usually to the body), actually land with the illusion of full contact, while others have to “miss, but still hit”. This is a delicate balance which must be respected. The time we take planning and rehearsing our fights, results in a fight the audience will remember and enjoy.
My Demo Reels/Directors Reels like any, are designed to demonstrate a variety of qualities my fight scenes possess. My goal is to demonstrate the quality, the safety, the illusion, and intensity of the fight, as well as how well I made it belong to the character, cinematography, and subtext of the story.
The illusion can’t exist without the truth… there must be a foundation to the art in real life, if it’s going to sell in a film.
I take my training very seriously, and it is most precious to me, as it defines who I am. I’ve spent over 20 years training others, but now what I do, I do for myself. The videos I shoot while training are to critique me, to add a visual reference to what I feel as I train, Spar, or Discover. These videos are pure, with no illusion. They demonstrate the foundation.
Through my career, I’ve had the pleasure of working with both extremely talented actors and stunt actors while creating a fight scene… as well as suffering through times when the person in front of the camera had no reason or quality what-so-ever to be involved in that scene. There are benefits and ways to working with both.
The benefit simply is to learn and gain experience, and to search for creative ways to make the scene work. So if the talent has no fighting skill or believable qualities, there in remains the challenge… the opportunity to overcome an obstacle.
When the talent brings a certain quality to the fight scene that is beyond your original expectations, then true cinematic magic happens. In my experience, the most enjoyable stunt actors to work with for fight scenes have been parkour and free-running exports.What they are able to bring to the scene both physically and mentally are undeniable, and worth their weight in gold.