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How actors fake fight in movies

Fight scenes in movies and TV shows are more realistic than ever. The art of fight choreography has evolved significantly since the era of Bruce Lee. Today, movies like “John Wick” and “Jason Bourne” incorporate high-impact martial arts like Judo and Jiujitsu to create intense staged combat that thrills audiences with every punch and kick. To find out how these scenes come together, we interviewedAnthony Vincent, a top stunt coordinator and stunt performer who has more than 200 credits in the movie and television industries. Son of the late actor Frank Vincent, known for his appearances in gangster classics like “Goodfellas,” “Casino,” and “The Sopranos, Anthony specialises in martial arts and fight choreography. He demonstrated some of the fundamentals of how to make a fight scene look real. Following is a transcript of the video.Anthony Vincent: My name is Tony Vincent, I’m a stunt coordinator in the film industry. After about 100 movies or so, I started doing fight choreography. I have a deep martial arts background. Everybody’s either known as a fight guy, a wheel guy, or a gymnast, a fall guy. Fighting has always been my specialty. I’m competent at the other skills, but I’ve always been known more as a fight guy, and sought out for my fight skills. James Cagney did a movie, “Blood on the Sun.” And Judo was featured there. Every era saw different things. You know, the ’70s was obviously the Bruce Lee era, and more of the Kung Fu flicks. So then you know, I think “Bourne” kind of changed some things, and that was heavily based on the Filipino art, Kali and Escrima, and the stick and knife fighting. So that kind of, I think, started that different style of fighting, was more realistic. And I think it’s here to stay. “Raid: Redemption” series was also done fantastically well. “John Wick” was brilliant, it was very heavy Judo-based. They brought an art that was not really shown that much in films. [Anthony’s father was actor Frank Vincent.]Vincent: One thing that I learned from my dad, since he was an actor, is what motivates the character? Why is he fighting? What is his ultimate goal? Otherwise, it’s just punches and kicks and throws and locks. So that’s the first step. The second step is, what’s the shooting style? Do they like to hold shots wide? Do they like to do a lot of insert shots, flash cuts? Because that will help me know whether I really need to have a flow of moves, or if it’s gonna be cut together in snippets. Then we shoot. We’re gonna do a little demonstration here, and go over some of the techniques to make fight scenes work. We have here Ian and we have Aj. The first thing we’re gonna do is put Ian to sleep, ok? No, just kidding, ok. What we really have to talk about is selling to camera. The camera, when stacked, we’re stacking right now, it compresses the space in between. So really, whether I’m here or whether I’m here or if I actually hit him, it all looks the same. Just to explain what I’m saying, if I went like this now, guess what? Well, that doesn’t work, we see a mile in between. There’s a couple of things that I call “choreo-killers.” What we call bridging. You guys are my friends. I don’t want to hit you in the face. What a lot of people do is they go – I call it bridging. Why? We make it look like it’s the Verrazano, ok? Because in our mind, subconsciously, I don’t want to hit you. What makes a fight scene work is not the person throwing the punch, it’s the person receiving the punch. I always say, you want to pretend that there is a pole going through the top of your head and running through your body. So the first thing that happens is your head goes. Once your head goes, your shoulder goes, then your hip, then your knee. Now I really want you to really throw it really hard. Obviously, don’t hit me, ’cause I have meetings after this. So go ahead. Beautiful, ok good. Alright. Now do it again. OK, so that would be a big reaction. You are going to punch him in the face, ok? And then punch him in the stomach. Then what I want you to do is throw a right punch at his ear.Aj Caldwell: Somebody’s getting workers’ comp today.Vincent: Right, right, right. Now again, this is a famous actor. You don’t wanna hit him, but you don’t want to look like you’re throwing a little punch. We’re gonna do a half-speed rehearsal, ok? So half-speed to feel it out and know what you’re gonna do, and then we’ll go full speed, ok?Caldwell: Alright, so I walk up, like, “You got a problem? What’s your problem?”Vincent: Hold on, hold on a second. Did I say “action?”Caldwell: Oh, you did not say “action.”Vincent: So you’re just running the set on your own?Caldwell: It’s my first time on set!Vincent: OK, ok! Ready, and action! Nice and slow, nice and slow. Yeah, wham, good! Good! Good, good. It’s the full speed. Cameras are rolling. OK, here we go. Ready, and action!Caldwell: ‘Sup, man, you got a problem? You got a problem, man, what’s your problem, man?Vincent: Nice, very nice! Very nice, good job, guys. Good, good, good. What’s your availability next week? I have a project for you.Caldwell: I’m free!Vincent: You’re free? Yeah, ok. Thank you guys.Ian Phillips: Thank you.

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