Dave Morizot answers
his fans most burning questions
08/28 I have a couple of technical questions for you. Some of our fans are savvy in action scenes. One of the ladies mentioned that she heard that many martial artists get dislocations in their fingers when they perform.

I don't think dislocations are reserved only for the martial artist in an action scene, I recently broke my left middle finger performing a stunt on Buffy the Vampire Slayers season finale from last season (2000-2001).... and hey, it still hurts!  But, in this biz, you have to take your lumps, get up, and do it again.  I think that knowing yourself, and your capabilities, is the best way to avoid injuries, but sometimes it's just going to happen, no matter what precautions you take.

The next few is from Liz, from NY:  Hi Dave, I noticed something when we were watching the tape of Marion to the Rescue.  There was a similarity between the fighting styles of Robin Hood and Tom.  Did you spend a lot of time with the actors, or did John Medlin do most of the training while you concentrated on the choreography?

Hi, Liz!  Well, as a matter of fact, training with the actors was one of my duties, and I tried to get with them as often as I could.  Turns out this wasn't very easy to schedule, so I didn't get to train with them a whole lot, but I did work with Matt on some moves.  Of course, he's a natural athlete, and he picked up techniques pretty quickly.  I remember one technique in particular we trained with for a while, and he really enjoyed.  It was a sidekick, which his opponent caught, and he spun through with a round kick, performed by the opposite leg.  I worked with Herb Perez, the Olympic TaeKwonDo gold medalist, on a show, and he liked using that kick alot, and so Matt and I called it the "Herb Perez" kick.  He used it a couple of times that first season!

Also; most of the fight scenes, due to poor post-production work, had seams in them.  You could tell the fights weren't done straight through, but several times and edited  together. (This is obvious in Race Against Death with the muddy-non-muddy-muddy shirts.)  I'd like to know how long it took to complete a fight scene, ie the  number of days they had to film it, or takes they took, before they were satisfied that they could put the scene together?

Doing an entire fight in one shot is called a "master" shot.  This is cool to watch from a "reality" perspective, but it's a little boring from an entertainment perspective.  It's also very demanding, especially when you start learning new fights every single week for the next episode... you just get a little "brain overload" after a while!  For that reason, most of the fights that John and I choreograph are broken into segments, that are then shot as "small" masters, and then "cleaned up" with some inserts of the power parts of the action, or reaction shots done by the actors. 

(For example, a wider shot of two people kicking will be intercut with the feet "hitting" the target, like the face or the midsection, and then back to the master, and then push in tight to get the reaction of pain from the actor's face... you get the drift!)  This makes it much easier to shoot the entire fight, it's easier to edit the fight, and if we're running out of time and we have to wrap it up quickly, it's easier to cut a segment or two and still have and interesting, intelligent fight left.  Of course, some of the inserts can be shot at a later time, which are called "pickup shots", and that's usually where continuity problems start to creep in, like the "mud, no mud, mud" example you used.  It can be very tough to totally match something that was shot a month ago! 

As far as the lenght of time it takes to shoot a fight... well... there is something you must realize about a fight, or any action scene for that matter.  They don't take real time.  In other words, if you are shooting a dialogue scene, then the amount of time it takes the actor to speak is "real" time.  It will take that much screen time in the final cut, so that's good.  However, in a stunt scene, it may take hours to set up and finally shoot a piece of business that only is on the screen for a matter of seconds. 

Usually, the more intricate or involved the sequence, the more time it takes to shoot it.  For shooting television, time is a luxury you don't have, and I've already mentioned the struggles we had with trying to hurry in Lithuania!  A really good fight, let's say a Jackie Chan fight, could take as much as a week or more to shoot... but on Robin Hood, and in most any TV show, you're lucky if you have a day.  Usually, you get 4 to 6 hours at the end of the shoot day, so it's "push, push, push" to get it done, and that's also where some mistakes can come in.  Very rarely does it look exactly like you expected it to look, or even like you rehearsed it the day before!

And, of course, did anyone notice Matthew's shirt coming apart in the fight scene in Marion to the Rescue? 

Yeah, we noticed, but it was already late in the fight, and we decided to leave it until the fight was over, because it was going to rip again, anyway.  Thanks for pointing it out, though...

"Why don't you give me a paper cut and put lemon juice in it...we're closed!"  (From The Princess Bride)  :))

 


 
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