Music Video – Blackbird Blackbird – “All”

The music video for Blackbird Blackbird’s “All” got released recently. It was shot earlier in the year, and I’d previously described the process of putting together the short fight scene.

From the youtube description: “All” depicts the final scene of an imaginary graphic novel, adapted-for-film. Complete with extended anime-style credit sequence, highlighting the names of the top donators of the Kickstarter project that made this whole video possible. Directed by Ellis Bahl. Funded by Blackbird Blackbird fans via Kickstarter.



Music Video – Minio Class – “City Kids”

Towards the end of the year (Dec 2011), worked on this music video for Minio Class’s “City Kids” – directed by Ruth Orellana, and starring Minio Class, Jason “El Monstruo” Escalera, Juan “The Beast” Rodriguez Jr., Vanessa Coelho. I was an extra in the boxing gym – hanging out with the main protagonist, and hitting the punching bags.

The finished music video just came out – here it is:

I thought it came out great! There were definitely things I could nitpick about the way I moved – oh well.

Especially when you look at the other REAL boxers from the Union City Boxing Club. They are real pros, Golden Gloves, etc. Just watching them work out is impressive – on the speed bags, heavy bags, and sparring. Fast, sharp, powerful, good footwork. Respect.


Physical Improv

A little while ago, my friend Elizabeth Wolfe asked me if I wanted to help out with a gymnastics demonstration at an art exhibition. Liz and I used to take adult gymnastics classes together at NYC Elite, and now runs Dumbo Gymnastics.

Turns out that the Dumbo Arts Center (an art gallery right down the street from the gym) was holding an exhibition by Robby Herbst called New Pyramids for the Capitalist System. It consisted of photos and drawings of people in pyramids, symbolizing the layers of a capitalist system. Robby Herbst was also influenced by his grandfather, who used to do acrobatics.

For the occasion of the 1st Thursdays DUMBO Gallery Walk, the director of DAC thought it would be a good idea to have a few real gymnasts/acrobats to complement the theme of the exhibit. So he contacted Liz, who in turn enlisted fellow instructors and students at the gym, Alden LaPaglia (a dancer who also took gymnastics classes with Liz and I), and even cheerleaders from the local high school (who sometimes goes to Liz’s gym to practice tumbling).

We’d talked about different things we could do, and worked out a rough outline – stretches, some gymnastics basics, and then different poses that we’d improv on the spot. Once we got there, and saw some of the poses in the drawings, we said, “We could do that!” And we did.

The set of improvised poses were also interesting. One person would come on and strike a pose. Then the rest of us would come in and hold complementary poses, creating a group pose. After taking weekly improv workshops at Artistic New Directions for a few months – this felt right to me – this is physical improv!

The cheerleaders got into the act too. They couldn’t do their usual routine for flips and throwing the flyers way up – because the ceiling was too low!

There was a decent amount of foot traffic as people walked amongst the various galleries. Hope they enjoyed the show!


The Rhythm of a Fight

We’re shooting a cool music video, and there’s a fight scene smack dab in the middle. The scene calls for the lead actress to beat up two guys – me and another stunt guy.

I get there a little early, and get a quick low-down from the director as to what he’s envisioning for the scene. While they start shooting, the other stunt guy arrives. We introduce ourselves, trade our backgrounds (karate/aikido/krav maga for me, jeet kune do/kali/escrima for him, we’d even worked together unknowingly on Dark Knight Rising), and then start putting the fight scene together.

We both know that the we’d have to adjust to whatever the lead actress is comfortable doing. I talk to her briefly, and she’s a dancer, and has a little stage combat training. The fight scene is pretty short, and someone with good body control should be able to pick it up with a little practice and do just fine.

He’s obviously put a little thought into a few sequences he’d like, and same for me. We work on them – making sure we understand what the moves were – and here’s the important thing – from both sides – meaning both as attacker and defender. It has to be that way, because we have to first teach each other the sequence, and then switch so that we can practice the role he’ll play when we match up with the lead actress.

After we get it down, we start walking the lead actress through it. Here, our previous practice to learn both sides of the fight pays off. One of us can mirror for her, and the other can play the appropriate role for when we’ll shoot. She picks it up, we make tweaks and adjustments along the way, it’s all good. Then the director takes a look at what we’ve got, a few more tweaks, and then we’re ready to shoot.

The shoot itself goes fairly smoothly – we know what we were doing. As they’re doing some pickups, I chat with the producer. She asks, “Is it hard to put together a fight scene like that?”

I say, “Well, you watched us do it.” I go on to explain that there’s a rhythm to a fight scene. There’s a particular vocabulary – of kicks and punches, movements and shifts – like a dance. Just like a director would put a shot together – taking into account everything from the space to the lighting to the actors, a fight choreographer puts a fight together the same way. It’s a pleasure to show what we can do.