Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Clockwork Wonderland - Marquis of Vaudville Promotional Video

We had great fun performing in this.  You can make out Radha clearly, dancing with Larry (from Airship La Marianne) but my helmet covers my face so much, all I can say is "I'm the guard with the flowers on his helmet."  I and Greg (Airship Nocturne) chase Alice all through Wonderland.  Everyone in the video, except Alice, including the director, are members of the DFW/Denton area Steampunk community.  It was great doing a video like this surrounded by such supportive friends.  I had a terrible cold on the day of the shoot, and didn't realize the part had so much running in it, but my friends kept checking on me and bringing me tea and water.  It is rare and precious indeed, to have such a supportive community of friends.

One item of interest is that the director, Time Stevens, has worked miracles getting this put together, filmed, and on you tube in less than 2 weeks total using mostly untrained actors, yet with such excellent quality.  the only problem we really ran into was that there was no actual choreographing plan or rehearsal for the guards even though we had real weapons (not sharpened, but still very pointed and very much steel polearms!) and were moving fast on very dangerous and irregular terrain.   I discussed safety aspects of this with the director and, he agreed to warn the cast to move well out of our path and that we should work on safe ways to handle the issue.  I am somewhat familiar with polearms, but have never actually used one before in anything.  As such, I felt Tim Stevens showed great confidence in me by telling us what he wanted, basically that we move as synchronized and "quirky" as the guards in the cartoon version of Alice in Wonderland.  He did demonstrate the type of movements he wanted portrayed when commanded into action and in the chase.

I then went to the side for about 30 minutes with the other guard and we choreographed our own moves, our own commands to attempt to make our movements synchronized (with some limited success), and to make it as funny and quirky as he wanted without endangering any of the cast or extras in the process.  The only person that actually came close to getting impaled was the director when we rounded a camera at full tilt, but were asked to try taking both of us around it to the same side and almost failed the turning maneuver.  After that we insisted on going back to splitting around the camera like he had us do before, which was far more manageable as turning while running in a crouch and lifting your knees ridiculously high is actually a bit difficult.

I also balked at the idea of following in spear readied position behind the other guard in one area where the terrain was too narrow for us to travel side by side.  Instead I experimented with realistic ways a halberd could be used to attack that would have the weapon head trailing rather than leading and then purposely kept a safe distance behind my partner regardless as there were tree roots and a hole in our path near the end of the chase.  To cover up why I was trailing behind the other guard so far I tried to look like I was panting and running out of breath, which would sort of make sense since the lead guard would typically be the oldest one, but it just seemed to add to the quirky, campy, comedy of the scene, so it seemed to come out well.  The only scene that was cut that I wished had been left in was one where we slowed down and doubled over panting and breathing as though we were too winded to keep up in full armor with a young frightened Alice, and was intended to show why she got far enough ahead to be able to hide before we caught up again.  I thought that was really well planned and should be added back into the video if possible.  (Just so you know, after multiple takes chasing her at each step of the long chase, it wasn't very hard to pretend we were too tired to keep up the chase!!!  LOL)

After this experience, and our own problems setting up choreographed fencing for the Ugly Gun Skit, I and Radha both attended an excellent professional level (in my opinion anyway) class on staging fights in a safe, but realistic manner that was taught by Chris Ayres, (a professional actor and stage fight director) under the title Mock Combat in a 5 to 6 hour class broken into two parts over two days at Ikkicon anime festival in Austin, Texas.  While we never actually caught Alice and the class did not (for liability reasons among others) cover use of weapons other than to discourage it, the choreographing and rehearsing method would have been very helpful, and I will use it in the future.

The link to watch the video is below:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for carrying this event on your site! :) I know several of us are quite excited for this weekend, and I look forward to meeting new people. This is going to be a spectacular evening.