Making of Heroine Action | Choreography & Direction Notes
Forewords: Welcome to the breakdown of the Demo-reel where you can take a peek behind the curtains; the reasons and thought processes behind the 6 pieces. This is the part 3 of the 6 article series. If this is the first article you are reading, do check out the other genres by clicking on the links at the end of my article.
Third Genre: Heroine Action | Peps Goh Fight Design
Screen Time Duration: 1 min 16 secs
Shoot Duration: 5 hours 30 mins
Shoot Date: 19th December 2019
Director of Photography (D.O.P): Shian Wen
Gaffer: Li Shao Ming
Makeup Artist: Mavis Ng
Cast: Cheryl Chitty Tan, Tiffany Yong & Peps Goh
Music Composer: John Paul Balthasar Kwan
Location: The Flamingo
Choreography Notes for Heroine Action Genre:
The thing that triggered me to include this genre was that MediaCorp has on several occasions had scripts that required an actress perform a kick-ass fight scene to establish her as a bad-ass and strong character. Which means that there is a local demand for it.
The trend that started first in Hollywood’s heroine arch-type like Matrix’s trinity, Kill Bill, Charlie’s Angels, Black Widow and not to forget, Wonder Woman. Hence the choice of title was also really straight forward. In more recent years Korean Dramas have begun doing it too, which was I think what inspired MediaCorp to attempt it too.
Also, personally I have an interest in exploring female choreography as well. But the main focus is to make sure I’m not simply making ladies fight like men. It’s in finding strategies that women can use to fight better than men could. Attributes like sensitivity and timing that are more acute in woman that plays to their strengths, instead of trying to get them to fight with brute strength, that while there is a place for it would be too simple an approach.
Hence one of the key ideas is to have them fight smarter, with clearer shifts in strategies. To utilize unique improvised weapons, either with their long hair as a whip or using the jacket as an improvised nun-chuck, which wouldn’t look nearly as graceful when a dude tries it.
I was careful not to go too far in using sex appeal, but having bits of it woven into the choreography that is expressed more as grace and elegance.
The other challenge I wanted to test out was how fast and effectively can I train a performer from scratch. Hence I looked for Cheryl whom is not prior trained in screen action and through 3 session of rehearsals before this shoot, attempting to see how far I can bring a performer in a short amount of time, which is something that many TV artistes have to achieve with the guidance of the Stunt Coordinators frequently in a single day on set, at least in the case of TV which rarely has the luxury of time even for rehearsals. At least that’s the case currently in Singapore. Which I feel really shouldn’t remain the case if we want to improve in the action we produce.
Even a single rehearsal can exponentially improve how smoothly the shoot goes, and also how the end result looks. You can produce good work without investing a little more time in it. I really feel that the artistes in Singapore are more than capable of achieving the same level of action produced by foreign television, if only they were given the time and opportunity under good guidance to be prepared on the shoot day. It’s quite unfair and also dangerous to throw them off the deep end by only teaching them the choreography on the actual shoot day, unless they are super seasoned in screen action already.
Cheryl had previously expressed interest in exploring action, and I had trained her for a 3 hour session once before the 3 rehearsals we had for this shoot. She is an actress known for her work in various huge musicals and also her role on screen in Derek 1 and 2, hence not known to be an action performer. She does have some prior martial arts training in her childhood from what I understand, and also competitive fencing, hence she does have a body awareness that is above average.
And I’m really happy with how well she performed and improved in the short span of preparation before this shoot. Her kickboxing form had improved drastically, and on top of that, the expression of impact and exertion on a pretty solid level. I’m sure she would go far in this direction were she to continue pursuing it.
Direction Notes for Heroine Action Genre:
This was one which I had initially not had a very strong direction for the cinematography, my main focus being getting inexperienced performers to look as good as possible. Thus, the obvious first choice would be a shot/reverse-shot method which I will explain more in depth in the Oriental Genre below.
But that would be the easy way out to make things easy for them, and seeing the work and effort they had put into the rehearsals, the DOP and I decided to go for something reminiscent of the first Kingsman movie, with dynamic push in and dolly around and long-almost-single-take type direction.
This way, we get to both showcase the two gorgeous performers and their glamorous attire (Flamingo Suits were our location and wardrobe sponsor, check out their sites for bright and unique suits for both genders!), and also challenge the performer’s aptitude.
This method of shooting is one of those that doesn’t make things easy on the performers, they have to perform long segments of the choreography and also be really on point with the timing and rhythm alongside not just the other performer, but also the camera which is dancing along with them to his own choreography of camera movements.
What it resulted is a very distinctive flavor and viewer experience that has a sense of dynamic immersion into the action rather similar to the next genre below, but in a much closer proximity to the 2 performers.
Full Video by Peps Goh Fight Design
The heroine action genre is part 3 of the 6 genres. Here’s the full video for your viewing.
Menu: 00:12 – Comedy | 01:00 – Sport | 04:05 – Heroine | 05:22 – Dramatic | 07:40 – Oriental | 11:02 – Crime
P.S. Click on the above link to check out each genre’s choreography and direction notes. If you have any thoughts about my choreography works, feel free to leave your comment here or email me!