Steve Coleman is an acting stunt man who is also a fully trained award winning Wu-Shu champion. I worked with him not only as the lead actor for our film but together we created the final fight for The Lost Sheep where Alec and the Father collide. At first I wasn’t sure where to start off, I made sure to be honest with Steve and explain my love for stunt work but my lack of knowledge when it came to creating the choreography for the fight. I took this first meeting as an opportunity to learn how to fight in a fight sequence and how to choreograph it. Working with Steve was excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of fake fighting out a scene we had created, I made sure that Caitlin was watching to write down notes that she may need to change any of the script in order to make the fight scene work. I felt bad at times since she was often sat alone in the corner bored out of her mind watching us. But I am glad that she was there. We made sure to document the fight development as possible, the video above is a playlist of our development, it’s 30/40 minutes of raw footage showing how we worked together throwing ideas at each other and developing them to a point that we were happy to walk away. We made use of the local student bar’s upstairs space in The Pheonix, this is the same place we held our auditions in. When we had finished for the day we made sure to film the fight scene from start to finish so that we had something to look back upon and improve if we had to. Here below is that video…
To get a better feeling of what the end product may feel like – I added sound effects to the punches , kicks and throws to bring the scene out more. Although these sounds are extremely cheesy they actually manage to bring the scene out even better. It’s actually amazing how much it sells the punches even though they’re obviously not connecting (I am not a trained stunt man).
Improvements needed to make the fight better
So watching that fight back I made notes as to what I feel would make the scene much better:
- Hold onto the choking at the end, make it long and uncomfortable to watch
- The dialogue in between breaks in the fight need to be worked on to be made clear, interesting and hand emotion to the scene.
- Need to find the right camera angle for the right moment as some angles gave away the distance between the fist and the face.
The Fight’s Development
The fighting continued to develop through the coming month and I made sure to have a meet up between jason Segade (The Preacher) and Steve (Alec) since they both need to learn the fight by heart. Just as the first fighting co-ordination I made sure to film this meeting also. The first video of the fight scene came in handy just as it was purposed to do, we used it as a reference the whole time in order to remember and improve from the last time. Jason gave some good idea’s about his character in the fight but I found that he would over power me at times. I had to make sure that he didn’t find himself going in a direction that I’d feel as the director is the wrong way. By the end of the three hour shift both Steve and Jason knew the fight off by heart and I made sure to film another fight sequence as before.
To show how the fight developed into the real thing I put together a video that has all fights playing at the same time. It has the first fight, the Jason and Steve meeting and the final on set fight in the second draft edit…
It’s interesting how much changed and what stayed. One of the biggest points of change is the choking at the end of the fight. Previously in this blog post I’d written how I wanted that to last longer and in the second draft edit we can see it lasts much longer than any of the other versions. I personally feel that it works well, it creates an uncomfortable situation for the audience to watch. What was also interesting was the camera shots in the draft edit compared to the others. I filmed the others in one long take where as the draft edit is around 100 different takes of the fight. Looking at it from an objective point of view I feel it works but I still feel that aspects of the one long shot work much better than in the final thing. Moments where the camera flies around them in big swoops looked smoother and better on the first choreography sessions compared to the 2nd draft. I feel with more time in editing the fight scene will turn out quite exciting as right not it seems to lack in punch. I’ve given back this information to Caitlin who is editing The Lost Sheep.
As well as the final fight scene, I met with Steve again to go over the moments where Alec kills votary members. Below is the videos of their development…
It’s interesting to see how it went from the original practice to the final edit. I feel that it has come across well on the film however it would be improved with more special effects such as blood and throat scars. If we had the budget I would have shown more of the actual slash as although the motif is there in the scene and shots used, it would be a better spectacle aesthetically if we actually saw his throat get slashed – gore and all. Unfortunately I don’t have the budget to go back and film with these effects but I do feel that it came out well and that is a result of working hard with Steve Coleman. Together we thought about the motif of the slash, we figured out exactly how Alec would slash a man’s throat in the state that he is in. This took quite a few hours since we also thought about the best way to show all the emotions and the action in the best way. It changed on set however since Tinashe isn’t a trained actor it took some time to get him at a place where he was happy to proceed with shooting the scene. As seen in the video above we made sure that it was demonstrated to him before it was filmed so that he knew what he was doing. This was a tip taken from Michael Caines Masterclass on acting in film that I watched at the beginning of the module (CLICK THIS HYPERLINK to see blog post). He said that when doing stunts to always have it demonstrated for the actor first, therefore that is what I did. Ideally it would have been better to have a rehearsal with Tinashe during the script rehearsal of the film however he could not make it, this would have saved time on the set.