Fight Or Flight

Fight Or Flight

Nicola directing with me on camera and Ian observing my progress.

On the 31st October 2016 I helped out on another short film. This project was really intriguing and ended up being an incredibly fun piece to work on. The basic premise for the short was a choreographed dance-fight scene. The two that would be performing would be dancer and actor Hannaj Bang Bendz, and MMA Jay Jay Ferguson. And it was working with Hannaj on Flawless that I was invited to work with her again on this. Oliver Eefesopolous, director for Flawless, said Hannaj was in need of a camera assistant and put my name forward to her which was a lovely thing for him him to do.

The director for this short, however, was Nicola Hoskins who wrote and directed the short film Stay With Me and Pike Dream which both won awards internationally. Nicola was lovely to work with and was a breath of fresh air in the film-making community as sadly only “13.6% of film directors working in the UK are women” and “21.7% of publicly funded films of 2016 had a female director“. Seeing Nicola direct with such passion was super encouraging and brought so much humanity to the set.

The set we shot at was New Era Gymnasium in Bournemouth Square – great place to be too as all the floors and walls are covered in padding for safety and the owner was great as well saying he often gets filmmakers using his gym for a filming location.

Jay Jay Ferguson and Hannaj Bang Bendz
Jay Jay Ferguson and Hannaj Bang Bendz

The day went really well. Hannaj and Jay had been choreographing their sequences for days and the script itself was nice and short. Our equipment was minimal with only sound, two DSLRs, LEDs and a Movi for free and fluid movement. All we needed to do were different shots and multiple takes to get the required coverage for the final edit – hence the two cameras.

Ian F. Hunt was the main camera operator and cinematographer and I was the camera assistant and second camera operator. Ian, too, was great to work with. And thanks to him, I got more filming jobs! He was impressed with the equipment I had brought with me, my attitude and professionalism on set, our shared knowledge of filming tech, and our appreciation for movies in general. I am really grateful that this short Fight or Flight had such a nice crew working on it. We bonded well and made connections for the future.

Someone who really surprised me though was the sound recordist Dave Harrison. His experimental work on acousmatic sound and his ability to hand build synthesizers and theremins had me talking with him whenever there was a spare moment on set. It’s sound experimentation and abstraction that I have a particular interest in and was exciting finding another creative with a similar mindset.

An unexpected pleasure on this shoot was getting to work with Rachel Collins again and see her impressive skills at makeup and prosthetics. Like Hannaj, I worked with Rachel on Flawless. Over the course of the day, Rachel’s challenge was to make both Hannaj and Jay appear more beaten up and bruised and she accomplished this with little hassle.

Rachel Collins applies makeup to Jay Jay Ferguson
Rachel Collins and Jay Jay Ferguson

There is not much to talk about the production side of things. Ian and I were stood on opposite sides of the choreographed performance so we could have enough coverage. It was just down to knowing when things were going to happen and where the two of us should be. With Hannaj and Jay both being professional athletes, we were all very sensible when it came to safety. The two knew how to do their stunts and both knew their limitations. There was only one instance when an actual punch made contact and that was from Hannaj to Jay. But he took that in good light and we all had a laugh from it. This also connects back to why Ian and I were on opposite sides to the dance-fight, none of their punches made contact but our camera angles, along with a good sound design, will trick the audience into believing Hannaj and Jay are actually hitting each other.

There was one sad thing about this project. This shoot was done on the 31st October, Halloween in the UK, and also the day our Audio Production unit at university would exhibit our radio dramas. For our radio dramas were individual chapter interpretations of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine and would be exhibited in succession to the entire year. Unfortunately, we were too late finishing the film that I missed my groups chapter be broadcast in the lecture theatre.

Other than that, I hope to work with these people again and wish them well for future projects.

Ian F. Hunt, Nicola Hoskins, Jay Jay Ferguson, Hannaj Bang Bemdz, Will Pattenden
Ian F. Hunt, Nicola Hoskins, Jay Jay Ferguson, Hannaj Bang Bendz, Will Pattenden

Photographs taken by on set stills photographers Laura Harvey and Tim Way


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