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She Kills Monsters

Posted on by David McCormick

The play She Kills Monsters by Qui Nguyen is a show breathing new life into theatre. Its reliance on sword fights at important moments is making the study of stage combat more popular, and because the story focuses on two sisters, it encourages women toward action-hero roles. Here's the short synopsis from the publisher, Samuel French: A comedic romp into…

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Sword Fight Filming with Adorea

Posted on by David McCormick

I am a big fan of Adorea Olomouc, a stage combat troupe from the Czech Republic. I've shown their YouTube videos to Academie Duello's Demo Team for both stage combat training goals and filming sword fighting. I have to apologize to my regular stage combat students that I didn't direct you to them sooner. What you'll notice right away is…

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Simulation over Style

Posted on by David McCormick

My approach to stage combat has three priorities: Safety, Simulation, and Story. This is a small but important departure from the standard Fight Directors Canada version that students will see in their glossary: safety, storytelling, and style. Here is why I believe simulation beats style and gives us a clearer understanding of what we do as actor-combatants. We Agree on…

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Trailer Ricochet: John Wick Chapter 2

Posted on by David McCormick

I was reluctant to see John Wick (2014) because I didn't think the story of an unstoppable gun-toting Keanu Reeves seeking revenge for his puppy would be entertaining. Boy, was I right. But what the story lacks in... story... it makes up for with action. The gun-fu as performed by Reeves is exceptional. And now, the trailer for the sequel…

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Emotion in Action Film Editing

Posted on by David McCormick

As combat performers, we often get obsessed with the improvement of our physical performance. We often assume that the emotional aspect will happen by itself. But, it's important for both choreographers and performers to incorporate the anger and fear and pain and exhaustion of battle into your rehearsal and practice. I've expounded on this before. However much you have worked…

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Copyright and Choreography

Posted on by David McCormick

I’m rewatching a fun horror/comedy called John Dies At the End. It opens with a zombie variant on Theseus’ Paradox. The question posed in this paradox first posed by Plutarch is: If a ship gets damaged a little bit voyage by voyage and is gradually repaired so that every plank of wood is different from the original, is it the…

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Is Focus Stressful?

Posted on by David McCormick

Do you find it stressful to keep trying the same combat movement again and again, knowing with each pass that it still needs improvement? When working with a partner, does it raise your blood pressure when things go wrong? And as soon as it goes correctly, do you want to stop? Alternately, in some cases, when you're not interrupted, you'll…

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What Did You Call Me?

Posted on by David McCormick

When we start to work on choreography, we don’t have specific scenes in mind. We don’t have a script to tell us our character’s motivations or what words to use. We often fall back on silly arguments to get our choreography started, and then we take the entire fight less seriously. What are some good, simple scenarios to get a…

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What Are You Simulating?

Posted on by David McCormick

In stage combat, we have three priorities: Safety: all movements must have built-in safety so the risk to actors is minimized. Simulation: every movement should look genuine and feature authentic-looking intent. Storytelling: the combination of movements should match each character's personality, level of aggression, goals and further the plot of the story if possible. The problem with some methods in…

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Theatrical Deaths with No Blood

Posted on by David McCormick

Blood adds horror. That's the single reason to add a blood effect to a death scene. So, the only creative question in whether to consider a blood effect is: does this scene need more horror? In Romeo and Juliet, for example, do we need Mercutio's death to be horrific? I'd say yes. Do we need Juliet's death to be horrific?…

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