How to Shoot an Indie Film Action Sequence
In this episode of Film Tips from the trenches goes in depth on how I shot a 3 min action sequence in my short film BROKEN. I had no experience shooting any type of action whatsoever.
Being nervous about shooting this complex gun fight, I rehearsed…a lot. When you have a small (or no) budget and you are attempting an ambitious action sequence, rehearsal is your best friend.
The bulk of choreography we did in rehearsal layered the foundation for the action sequence. Doing that much rehearsal also help bond my cast and crew. Any bond you can create with cast and crew before you go into production is helpful on the battlefield that is a film set.
This is why famous directors like Clint Eastwood and Ron Howard have been using the same crew for years. When it was a 100+ degrees in that basement and we’re on day four of shooting, those hopefully positive relationships you created will help you through.
Action Sequence on Location
When I went on a tech scout I finally saw the space where the action sequence would take place. I started reworking the sequence based on the location. I was using the props I had on hand as well as the geography of the room.
Instead of trying to jam my action sequence in the space I allowed the space to dictate the sequence to me. This is a very useful skill in the low budget independent film world. If you have a studio budget you can design the space around the action sequence you want, but when you have no cashola it’s not an option.
“We were lucky enough to have an amazing technical advisor (who happen to be one of our actors) Tony Gomez who was also a retired police officer.”
Tony taught the cast how to hold a gun properly (read how we obtain bad ass looking prop guns cheap here: AWESOME Looking Prop Guns), gun safety and how to fire a gun.
With Tony’s training my cast looked like pros and combined with the realistic guns with blowback and the killer visual effects we had a realistic and amazing gun fight.
The video below documents my journey crafting and directing the action sequence. What I learned as a filmmaker is rehearsal is imperative when shooting an action sequence, especially one with so many characters.
Good luck and happy shooting!
BTW, BROKEN along with a bunch of my other films Red Princess Blues, RPB: Genesis and Cyn: A Twisted Tale are getting released under the title “LIPSTICK and BULLETS” on Sept 8, 2015. The DVD has over 5 hours of a guerrilla film school. Check it out and let me know what you think.
Take a look at Anatomy of a Killer Stunt. It goes BTS of how we did some really cool stunts in my films.
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