Learn How to Fight on Camera from a Pro Who Got Punched by Chuck Norris
This professional stuntman survived a blow from the Texas Ranger himself to pass on his secrets to you.
Fight scenes might be some of the most exciting to watch, but they're also some of the most complicated to shoot. Capturing a fight for a film requires a lot of carefully executed techniques in order to make it exhilarating, realistic, and safe for all involved. In this video from Shutterstock, stunt coordinator John Cann, who totally got to brawl with Chuck Norris on camera, goes over a few tricks of the trade to show you how to choreograph a realistic and action-packed fight scene. Check it out below:
The video goes over a bunch of important elements of a fight scene, including how to sell a punch, how to choke someone safely, how to throw and toss someone, and different props you can use to bash your enemies good. Here are a few things Cann says will make a fight scene both believable and safe.
- Maintain eye contact to communicate with your partner during a fight.
- Stay "on target and out of distance" as you throw punches (about two arm lengths away).
- Keep control as the recipient of a nasty chokehold by pushing forward while your partner pulls back.
- Be mindful of where the camera is so you can always break the invisible "plane."
- Whoever is getting thrown or tossed to the ground is the one who is in control of the toss.
- Practice tosses and throws on mats.
- Use padding and protective gear.
- Use prop weapons that have been specially made for cinematic fight scenes, like sugar glass bottles and chairs with all of the hardware taken out of them.
Other than choreography, there several other ways to make your fight scenes more dynamic and realistic both during a shoot and in post-production.
- Shoot on a long lens to make it look like your subjects are closer to each other than they really are.
- When one of your subjects deals a "Hero Punch," a punch that knocks their opponent out, track your camera movement to their fist for more impact.
- Cut for impact. When your subject delivers a blow, cut to a tighter shot of their opponent receiving it.
- Cut a couple of frames out of a blow. (1-3 will do.) This makes the blow appear faster and more painful.
What are some other stunt coordination tricks that filmmakers should know about? Let us know down in the comments.