We've got another swordfight on the docket for today, and this one involves me. We're shooting the flashback scene where James Cranston first encounters the evil Druid Lord Thorn, played by yours truly. I start off the morning in a bad way, finding that my car won't start. Should've taken that ride in with Jeff, dammit! So I arrive on the set an hour late. Add to that a 2 hour make-up job, and by the time afternoon rolls around Professor Jack's line, "Well at least we haven't seen Thorn yet" is particularly resonant.
Unlike yesterday's fight, which Dave and Aaron captured hand-held, today's battle will be shot with locked down cameras. With the help of Steve Tolin, who in addition to his Producer and Production Design duties also serves as our fight choreograper, Nathan and I have worked out a "fight loop" in which we repeat the same series of moves (kind of like a kata for two), which the cameras will capture from four different angles. Jeff will then cut together the different vantage points to turn the two-minute fight into a much longer melee.
We were originally scheduled to shoot this fight on Day Three, but when Nathan got sick and missed the first day of shooting we did some rescheduling, and I made sure to save this fight scene for last. And man, did I need the extra time. Nathan and I have been practicing our moves throughout the week, but even with all the practice I don't feel comfortable with my performance today. It doesn't feel as good as it did in rehearsals. I seem to be tripping up, not moving as fluidly as I should. Maybe it's the mats on the floor, which I keep slipping off of during my "Obi-Wan circa Episode IV unmotivated spin." Or maybe it's the heavy cape. Or the mask, which is difficult to see through. Or maybe I'm just making excuses for being no ace at stage combat.
In a way, this is payback for the crew. Yesterday I really let them have it. A few of them were moving around and making noise during a take, and I lost my cool and railed at them for about two minutes. It wasn't exactly a Christian Bale moment, but it definitely left an impression. So today the crew gets to watch me fumble through this fight scene, and bask in the glow of my embarrassment.
Jeff, Dave and Aaron have a different take on the proceedings. They tell me that from their viewpoint behind the cameras, the fight looks totally badass. When I watch a bit of the playback, I can see that it does indeed look cooler than it feels. And when Jeff assures me that it will look amazing once it's all cut together, I almost believe him.
And while "cool" may be the word Jeff uses to describe the action, I would certainly choose the opposite. This costume is hot, and the work-out I get while fighting in it causes me to work up quite a sweat - so much that when I remove my hood and mask during a break, the elaborate make-up job that Midian and Rachael did on my face and neck is completely gone! This stuff isn't water-soluble, but apparently sweat does a fine job of washing it away. The first time I got this make-up job done last week, I had to spend nearly an hour with a bottle of rubbing alcohol to get it all off. Who knew all I really had to do was run in place for fifteen minutes? So the make-up crew scrambles to re-do my make-up while the crew repositions the cameras, and Nathan and I go at it hot and heavy once again.
Near the end of the day, once all the fighting has been done, we move on to a shot that Jeff and Dave are calling the "hulk-out." One of the characters has been stung by a bug creature, and the idea is to show the beginning of his transformation into one of them by zooming in on his eyes as they change color. Just like when David Banner is about to turn into the Hulk in the old TV series. Or when Todd One is about to yell at the crew for moving around during a take.
The "hulk-eyes" shot requires some tricky lighting, and we are cutting it close to our time limit today. But our cinematographer Dave has been looking forward to this shot all day, and he wants to take his time and get it right. So right after the "hulk-out" is in the can, we haul out of the studio with three minutes to spare, finishing our second week of shooting just under the wire.
1. "On guard!"
2. "On guard?"
4. Gotta watch my back!