Filming the Fight
I recently been on a little binge of action movies. With new releases coming out like Ryan Reynolds' 6 Underground or Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s Bad Boys For Life, I have found myself inspired to write this blog. When I finished watching these movies, I found myself with an adrenaline rush as if I was in these high impact action scenes. I’m pretty sure a lot of people fantasize about being the hero in such action scenes. But it's gotta make you wonder - how did they film these fight scenes?
Fight scenes take a lot of prep work, and if you really want to pull off a well-crafted fight scene you will need to have a lot of rehearsal. It is important to know that if you go out to film a fight scene, don't expect to “play it by ear." Every cinematic fight scene is rehearsed multiple times so that it is full proof. Every actor needs to be trained in combat stage fighting so that they know which direction to move alongside the camera, to make it look legit. Remember that fight choreography is a dance between two or more actors where each punch or kick is largely exaggerated. Everyone must know exactly what is going on in the scene and how they are moving, and this is a good start to filming a fight scene.
Next, go handheld! Camera movement is very crucial to creating a fight scene. It is more noticeable to have a stationary camera during a fight scene opposed to handheld. The slight yet jarring tilts and pans with the impact of the fight scene adds to it by making it more realistic. This makes the viewer become one with the fight and their experience is enhanced, making them have that all too familiar adrenaline rush. Camera angle also plays a role in the feel of the fight scene. As most know, camera angles have a lot of symbolism. It is important to sit down and really plan out what you're trying to portray in the fight scene for each character.
It is also important to film at a higher frame rate for fight scenes. I would suggest 60 frames per second. This makes the fight look rawer and is always a good thing. It is also helpful if you want to add in a speed ramp of the action to make it go in slow-mo to emphasize a hit. Fun fact, Saving Private Ryan was filmed entirely in 60FPS and this is globally known to have some of the best action scenes.
Lastly, the final keys to filming a great fight scene takes place in the editing lab. Editors know that it only enhances a film to cut a frame on the impact of each hit. Something about this makes it more authentic. And another important addition from the editor is to add in the sound fx. It’s the little things that make a world of a difference, so adding in those grunts and hits really can make the scene
All in all, filming a fight scene takes a lot to it. But never skimp out on the safety of your cast and crew. Remember, always make time to rehearse over and over until everyone knows it like the back of their hand. Only do what makes everyone on set feel comfortable. Protect your actors by having them wear pads and placing cushions on the ground. Take the fight scene slow and in control. Never rush it. Allow for yourself to have enough time as possible to get it filmed safely and effectively. And always remember that this is supposed to be fun. Enjoy the craft of creating a cinematic fight scene and things will go smoothly.