Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited at the Pacific Media Expo that was held at the Hilton hotel at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) by Kerry P.H Wong to attend his two and a half hours workshop on Fight Choreography. I didn’t participate in it I was there as an observer. I wanted to have a closer look on the making of fight choreography and begin to know Kerry as a professional, see how he was working and interacting with his students getting a taste of his craft.
Kerry is very smart. He has a math brain. Indeed, his parents would have loved for him to become an engineer or something like that but Kerry moved his life in another direction. However, when you think about it, you should have a math brain when you create fight choreography. Creating choreographed movements and sequences is all about rhythm and logic. In a fight scene, everything has to make sense, each move, each action that the actor does has a reason in and for the story. Stunt choreography is not about doing something that just look cool; it has to advance the story and the characters’ emotional journey. This is the reason why even if you want to make a short film that is basically just a fight scene, Kerry will ask you about the characters’ back-story anyway. Who are they? What happened in their past that made them act that way they do now?… (check out the book by John Kreng on Fight Choreography, it’s a fight choreography bible! You don’t have to be a stunt man to read it, it will help anyone who has any interest in martial arts / action films.)
Kerry is a stunt performer, fight coordinator and fight choreographer. He is known to be one of the co-founders of ZeroGravity, one of the forefathers of action short filmmakers on the Internet. Kerry first fight coordinator job was for Shadow: Dead Riot under the supervision of one of the top action choreographer in Hong Kong today, Tony Leung Siu-Hung. Since then, Kerry has continued to multiply his films credits in Asia but also in Hollywood, Pirates of the Caribbean, The World’s End, GI Joe: Rehabilitation, Universal Soldiers: Day of Reckoning, Black Dynamite, Olympus Has Fallen…
Et voila! Here I was meeting this fight scene expert trying to pitch him my new project.
But let me tell you a little bite of how went the workshop. I was extremely impressed seeing how Kerry could transform non-martial artists with no stunt experience to be doing stunt combinations after only two and a half hours. And it doesn’t matter which gender, body shape or flexibility you have, Kerry will make you shine and feel good about yourself!
Budding stunts performers or not, everyone from the workshop had so much fun; it was a delight to watch.
After his workshop Kerry and I went to eat Sushi at Kula on Sawtelle blvd. Kula is a very cool revolving Sushi bar. I was my first experience going to a revolving restaurant, the concept is great and eating feels like a game. You get the benefit of eating buffet style, at your own pace, and the food circulate to your table. You don’t have to pay the big bucks for full rolls. Each plate that passes you has between 2-4 bites of sushi and they have a set 2.25 price per plate, which makes it easy to keep track of how much you’re paying. It worked perfectly with my tight writer/filmmaker budget.
Anyway, it was a great casual-friendly environment to be talking about the book trailer and the fight scene that revolves around it.
A few days ago, I had met Kerry in person for the first time in a coffee shop of downtown LA. We had spent almost three hours together but hadn’t talk at all about the book trailer, we were too busy talking about martial arts films and life in general (Kerry is very philosophical.) So that day, at the Sushi restaurant, was really the first time that we spoke about the project.
I told him about the story for the script, the characters, the general look for the cinematography… and that’s when he stopped me and asked me about the back-story for the characters. I mumbled for a moment. Indeed, I didn’t have much of a back-story for the two fighters; I had one for Stephanie, the heroine of the book, but not much for the fighters. This has been my first lesson and first homework: writing a backstory for the fighters.Kerry agreed to work with me. I felt in heaven and I later on I did a victory dance back at home of course, far from people’s eyes!
That day, I succeeded to get the first key person on my crew list, the stunt choreographer!