February 8, 2015 at 9:45AM

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How do you shoot a simple knife fight scene?

I am a film student and for our short film we want to have a choreographed fight scene but I don't know where to start. We are filming on the Canon C300 and we have a curved track and dolly (180 degrees), a jib and a Redrock shoulder mount we can use. The fight scene is between the villain and the female vigilante. The villain has a cane sword and the vigilante a pocket knife (she could discard it though, to disarm the villain in the process later on). The vigilante wins and the villain dies. We have professional stage combat skills actors but I would love to hear your opinion on what shots to use and what techniques to apply!

4 Comments

Wide shots always and forever. As long as you know the fighters' choreography, it's not too complicated to keep the camera moving in such a way that the pulled punches or whatever are masked. Do a ton of bunch of rehearsals with camera tests to see where each strike looks most effective and then get it there for that strike.

In general, I shoot fights in sequence, with shots rarely shorter than a three or four seconds (and upwards of 20, sometimes longer). I figure out exactly where the camera needs to be moving for that sequence and then know when, why, and how that needs to cut to the next sequence. Then I do it until I'm satisfied and then go onto the next part. If there's no intensive makeup and you have done rehearsals (with camera tests!!!), you can get through things really quickly when the time comes to actually shoot it.

But it's hard to say what individual shots to use because every fight is different. But never use shots that will confuse the audience. They should always know what's going on in the fight. Otherwise, you're making nothing.

So... yeah.

June 20, 2015 at 11:30AM, Edited June 20, 11:30AM

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Alec Kubas-Meyer
Writer/Director/DP
209

This is how I think about it...
1. Casting: Getting talent with experience is critical.
2. Choreography: A fight is a dance best planned out.
3. Rehearsal: Practice saves time, money and mental anguish.
4. Coverage: Shoot way more than you think you will need.

Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0b75Smzw-JE

June 24, 2015 at 5:11PM, Edited June 24, 5:12PM

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Generally things look more impressive in a wide shot, and more impactful in close ups, a good combination of both will immerse the audience, while still making sense. A lot of this is creative choice, but I usually prefer to use motivated camera movements especially in a fight scene, the camera moves with the characters, this makes their actions look so much "bigger" and more dramatic, this is overused a lot, blurry shakycam and just close up shots confuse the audience, this is a trick even the simplest movie goers know about and can spot in a scene and associate with "fake". Good, believable wide shots mixed in will provide context and infuse more realism into the scene.

This is just how I work, how I like to show action, you have your own creative preference

Also, this video from every frame a painting is priceless for anyone trying to film an action scene https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1PCtIaM_GQ&spfreload=10

August 10, 2015 at 1:52PM

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I guess this goes without saying, but Google for "realistic rubber knives".

Don't know if rubber knives come in pocketknife form, though.

December 27, 2016 at 9:42PM

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Adrian Tan
Videographer
1021

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