Trying to film a believable fight scene can be frustratingly difficult but it doesn’t have to be!
So here are some of the things that I’ve learned about how to film better fight scenes.
Location is key.
Your location is going to determine a lot about how your fight scene goes down.
This includes everything from the size of the space you’re filming in, what your surroundings look like, whether or not any other people are present and how much room you have to move about.
How To Shoot Dynamic Fight Scenes
What Are Dynamic fight scenes In Movies?
There are many ways to define “dynamic fight scenes.” The best way is to look at it from the aspect of being a movie fan and not a movie critic.
A dynamic fight scene is one that looks more like an action scene out of a movie, rather than just having two actors physically fighting each other.
Truly, these types of fight scenes can be found in many different kinds of movies. Movies such as the Matrix series are prime examples of dynamic fight scenes.
These scenes are carefully choreographed and very well executed. You can see each punch, kick, and move that a character makes. There is no doubt that the director of the movie had great talent in creating them.
Now there are some differences between dynamic fight scenes and regular ones.
First off, there has to be more than one opponent involved in the fight itself, or if there is only one opponent but he’s way too tough for one fighter, then there may be multiple fighters involved in the scene as well.
This is where you’ll find your Bruce Lee style fighting. When someone could easily beat up multiple opponents all on his own, then you’ve got yourself a Bruce Lee type character on your hands.
How To Film Better Fight Scenes
If you’re shooting a POV (point of view) shot then location isn’t all that important as long as your actor is wearing a good quality camera (preferably one attached I see a lot of films that feature fight scenes, and I watch a lot of fight scenes in movies that are poorly done.
You can do better than that (I know you can). To help you out, I’ve put together a list of tips and tricks that will help you film better fight scenes.
TIP 1 – Slow Motion: This is a classic, but it’s still awesome. When you’re filming a fight scene, slow things down so they look really awesome.
If your characters are punching each other, make sure to shoot it in slow motion so it looks as cool as possible.
TIP 2 – Have Your Actors Fight Each Other: I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t this supposed to be about filming? How does having the actors actually fight each other help?”
Well, I’m glad you asked! When you have your actors actually fight each other, it makes the scene look more realistic.
If your characters are fighting in the movie and in real life the actors are fighting each other, it’s going to look like your movie is real.
TIP 3 – Make Sure Your Characters Are Wearing Realistic Costumes: There’s nothing worse than watching an awesome fight scene only to realize that the costumes being worn are not accurate, especially if you’re watching a period film.
Watching a good fight scene can be just as enjoyable as watching a character get their heart ripped out of their chest and thrown across the room. When done right, fight scenes can engage an audience in a way that few other film techniques can.
Trying to film a fight scene well is easier said than done, though. The first mistake that many directors make is to try and make it look as real as possible.
The problem with this approach is that it’s just not very interesting to watch two people standing there beating on each other for the better part of an hour.
In addition, it takes a long time to shoot a realistic fight scene, which means you have to spend a lot of money filling up your schedule just for a couple of minutes worth of footage.
A far better approach is to treat the fighting like you would any other special effect shot in your movie.
Although you probably won’t ever see the scene being filmed from an outside perspective, filmmakers use blue screen compositing to create all kinds of special effects shots involving things that don’t physically exist in front of the camera.
You don’t need anything fancy to pull off this technique either. All you need is one person willing to go through the motions and another person recording them with a video camera.
What Are Fight Scenes?
The following is an excerpt from Elmore Leonard’s book “10 Rules of Writing,” which is a collection of his writing tips.
What are fight scenes? A fight scene is a short story. You have to establish characters, you have to set the stage, you have to introduce an element of conflict and you have to resolve it.
You don’t need a lot of words to do that. A fight scene is not just two people hitting each other.
The basic rule of a fight is: Keep it short, keep it simple and always be sure the hero wins — but make it look as if he might not.
Here are some examples:
In “The Killers” (1946), when Ava Gardner gets knocked out by Sterling Hayden in that little restaurant, the way I described it was: “When she came out of it she was staring up at him like a small child that has hurt itself.” That’s the end of the fight scene.
In “Hombre” (1967), Paul Newman fights that Indian in the saloon using two bottles; they break and everyone else leaves, because they know there’s going to be one hell of a fight and they don’t want to get hurt. And when Newman finally knocks him down, he
Fight Scenes Examples In Films
Fight scenes have become a staple in almost every type of film genre, from action-adventure to horror. It can be an intense, powerful and emotional experience for the viewer.
A great fight scene can make you cheer for the hero or hold your breath during a particularly suspenseful moment. Tension builds when two opponents are fighting one another.
Each actor must convey the appropriate emotions in his or her fighting style, facial expression and body language.
The following is a list of examples of fight scenes in films that showcase some of the best fight scenes ever filmed.
The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
This action-packed movie introduces viewers to Jason Bourne as he is being chased by Russian operatives. Bourne evades capture by jumping out through a window and landing on top of a moving taxi cab while Russian operatives shoot at him with automatic weapons.
Bourne takes out the driver and passenger in this car and then jumps into another car and continues to evade his pursuers until he finally escapes Russia. This was an intense fight scene that kept viewers on the edge of their seats as they watched Bourne try to escape from certain death.
How To Shot List A Fight Scene
Something my first AD taught me was to make an actual shot list for action scenes. I’ve been doing it ever since and I highly recommend it.
It’s a little surprising how many people don’t do this in the spec script world, but it’s very helpful for organizing your thoughts and for communicating with department heads about what you want to see.
A good shot list will help keep the chaos of a scene like this organized and on point. Shots 1-5 are mainly establishing shots, setting up the location at night, establishing the road in both directions, and then pulling back to show the car parked by the side of the road.
Shots 6-10 set up that there is a fight going on between two guys in a ditch at night (establishing shots). Shots 11-14 are close ups of punches/kicks being landed (establishing shots).
Shot 15 shows one of them getting knocked out (establishing shot). Shots 16-22 are close ups of punches/kicks being landed (establishing shots).
Shot 23 is the guy who gets knocked out falling into frame and into the ditch (establishing shot). Shots 24-26 show that our hero has come to help his friend who was getting beaten up.
Tips And Tricks For Filming Better Fight Scenes
Filming a fight scene is one of the most difficult things to do. You don’t want your actors to get hurt, but you also don’t want it to look like they’re just going through the motions.
Trying to film a realistic fight scene can lead to some hilarious results. For more tips on filming fight scenes, here are some helpful hints;
Use Real Props
In order for a fight scene to look realistic, it needs to have real weapons. While you might think it’s easier and faster to use giant foam props, you could end up looking like this: The people in this video clearly went for realism over size.
The result is an epic battle between a large cardboard box and an even larger trashcan. Even if your actors aren’t skilled martial artists, they will be able use their own body weight and feel more comfortable with real weapons.
If you are going to use fake props, make sure they are made out of rubber or some other soft material that won’t hurt anyone or break anything when they hit each other.
Know Your Fight Scene Code
There are two main types of fighting styles: Eastern and Western.
Taking Your Movie Fight Scenes To The Next Level
The great thing about fight scenes is that they don’t have to be perfect. As long as you’re getting the gist of the action, you’ll be fine.
But if you want your movie fight scenes to look like a professional choreographed them, here are a few tips:
Use a real fight choreographer. If you’re planning on filming a fight scene and you have any budget at all, hire a professional to do it.
A good fight choreographer will help make your actors look like they know how to handle themselves in a fight and can help ensure that their movements are realistic.
Cast the right people for the roles. When it comes to fighting, some actors look better than others.
Find someone who has the right build and body language to make your fights believable.
An actor who’s tall and thin might not be able to convincingly play an MMA fighter or bodyguard, but he could pull off playing an assassin or martial artist with ease.Film your movie with a handheld camera or steady cam.
Filming action scenes with a tripod-mounted camera just doesn’t look right—you can see that it’s fake because the camera is always perfectly still during the action sequences. A handheld camera will allow you to film more realistically.
Why Do We Love Movie Fight Scenes?
Have you ever wondered why movie fight scenes are so popular? If you have, then you’re not alone.
There is something in us that craves a good fight scene.
It’s a primal need to see the underdog triumph over insurmountable odds, to witness a battle between good and evil, and to feel the adrenaline of an epic struggle at our fingertips.
But why do we love movie fight scenes so much? What makes them so captivating?
What is it about them that sets them apart from real-life fights?
There are many reasons we love fight scenes in movies. One of them is because they give us a chance to break away from our mundane lives and immerse ourselves into a world where anything is possible.
A life where nothing is safe and the laws of physics and nature don’t have to apply.
Another reason we love fight scenes in movies is because they allow us to live vicariously through the main character. The main character always has something at stake in every scene, be it their honor, or their loved ones or even their life.
They have something worth fighting for, so when they get into a scrap with an enemy, we can’t help but get swept up in it too.A third reason we love fight scenes.
How To Shoot Fight Scenes
Show me the money.
I love shooting fight scenes. However, when I meet with a director who wants to shoot a fight scene, there is often a sense of trepidation in the air.
All too frequently there is a real fear that this sequence will be a major budget killer since it is highly choreographed, dangerous and unpredictable.
The important thing to remember is that this is not the case at all. Fight scenes can be shot very quickly and cheaply if you know what you’re doing and work within certain parameters.
Here are some guidelines for shooting fight scenes:
-Choose Your Weapon Wisely
When selecting your weapon of choice for shooting your fight scene, keep in mind that you’re trying to minimize the number of extras required as well as their complexity of movement.
This means that guns are out as well as large sweeping hand movements with fists or swords.
The weapon should also lend itself to two handed grips since they are safer and more stable on the camera axis (the imaginary axis that runs through the lens).
Guns tend to have one hand on the trigger and one hand on the grip which makes it difficult to lock off camera angles and focus points.
A stick with a blade attached to it that can be swung in an arc would be ideal but
How To Write A Fight Scene
A fight scene is a significant portion of the story, and often times the climax of the plot.
Tone is the mood or feeling of your writing. Fight scenes are tense and exciting, so your tone should be exciting and energetic as well.
The tone of a novel should change throughout the story to keep the reader interested.
In a fight scene, your tone should be tense and desperate; think peril. Description is important because it’s what tells us what we’re seeing or hearing.
In writing, description can be broken down into three categories: sensory details, narrative details, and physical details.
You must have all three of these types in every fight scene you write if you want to capture the full effect of what you’re trying to portray. Sensory Details are the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch.
These are things that we see and hear in our environment around us all the time–you don’t have to describe them at length because we already know what they look like and sound like! But there are also other senses we use in our daily lives that aren’t part
How Do You Shoot A Better Fight Scene?
When I was a kid, I watched Bruce Lee movies and thought, “That’s it! That’s the real trick to martial arts!” I’d run up to my brother and try to break his spine with one punch. (Surprisingly, he was fine.)
The truth is that martial arts in movies are not very realistic. Yes, there are some amazing fight scenes out there, but the majority of them are choreographed and shot in ways that maximize their cinematic value.
First of all, you should know that for most fight scenes, you don’t want the actors to really hit each other. You want them to look like they’re hitting each other — which means that you can’t use stunt people or wire work when filming.
And it’s best if the actors don’t get hurt at all.
You want your audience to be as engaged as possible with the action on screen — so you need every punch and kick to really connect. But beyond that, you need to achieve other goals:
Keep it real. A lot of punches miss their marks in fight scenes.
The idea is that these fighters are trying their hardest but still have a lot to learn. So even though they’re trying their hardest, they still can’t land a hit on their opponent
How Do You Film A Realistic Fight Scene?
To be clear, a realistic fight scene is not actually a fight. It’s two actors pretending to be fighting.
The single most important element of creating a believable fight scene is that the audience thinks the fight is real. So how do you make your audience believe your actors are really fighting?
The first step in filming a realistic fight scene is finding an experienced stunt coordinator and martial arts choreographer to help you with the “fight” choreography.
This person will help you understand what it means to “sell” a hit by turning off their body at the last minute before an impact and basically moving their full body weight into that fake attack so that it looks real.
If this was going to be a real fight, they would have just been hit, right? So they need to sell it!
The second step in filming a realistic fight scene is rehearsing with your actors over and over again until they have all of their moves down perfectly.
They know exactly what they’re doing while they’re filming the scene and they know exactly what they’re doing when they’re acting out the fight on film. This takes time and patience because everyone has to work together properly in order for it all to look right.