Filmmaking and interior decorating have a lot in common. When you're trying to pinch pennies, two
important rules are: 1) make use of what you already have and don't have to spend money for, and
2) whatever you do end up using, make it look like it's supposed to be that way.
That was a challenge for me when decorating my house, since it's architecturally unusual with a
lot of odd spaces and traffic flows. It took some doing, but after some experimentation, I got
the spaces changed from looking awkward to looking like they're the way they are for a reason.
Either that, or I just got used to it all after a while.
On low-budget projects, I've often been known to supply much of my own wardrobe; that's got
its advantages, not only in cost savings, but also inasmuch as it means my wardrobe will actually
fit. That means I don't have to answer difficult questions afterwards like, "why did you do that
whole scene with your arms like that?" ("Because that was the only way to hide the fact that the
sleeves on the suit coat ended a few inches below my elbows.") I did once have an enthusiastic
member of the wardrobe department sew six-inch extensions onto the ends of a sportcoat's
sleeves. This is a bad idea; just trust me on this one.
So I have a small project coming up where the director wants me to be wearing one of my chainmail
pieces, the full-length ceremonial piece shown at left. The challenge is that this time it's going to be
used in a pretty vigorous fight sequence with me facing three opponents and this particular piece of
metal apparel was not designed with combat--or, for that matter, flexibility and mobility--in mind.
I don't have a problem doing action sequences with half my weight in costume and accessories
added on, but it's an interesting challenge to choreograph a fight sequence that looks effective
and makes it look like this particular piece of armor really was designed for
I just have to cheat and design the combat for the armor, instead. I'm sure nobody will notice.
| ...He says his hands hurt pretty badly after a bunch of takes, but
nobody's ever killed him for real yet... |
Though coming up with a combat style and suitable techniques is a challenge (though a fun one,
it should be noted), one definite plus is that this armor will quite effectively stop slashes with
swords (though I'm less trusting of thrusting) and, because it is so heavy, even a real hard hit
or kick ends up feeling like nothing more than a moderate shove.
Now I just have to work on my arrow-catching skills. That's not a skill I've mastered, even without
armor. (Mark can do it, though; he's done scenes which called for catching or deflecting thrown
weapons like shuriken through the straightforward technique of having someone throw them at
him while the camera's rolling. He says his hands hurt pretty badly after a bunch of takes, but
nobody's ever killed him for real yet.)
Don't think he can double me for the arrow-catching sequence, though. He's the guy on the right
who's dressed in black in the scene above. I am very tempted to get a shot of him wearing this
particular piece of armor anyway, just for the entertainment value.