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Watching a movie for inspiration

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Shield-of-Dardania
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Watching a movie for inspiration

Post by Shield-of-Dardania » Mon November 21st, 2011, 11:12 am

I sometimes watch a movie for ideas. I get easily & especiallly inspired by fight/battle scenes, and I try to describe what I see in a way that I think the reader could use to imagine those scenes, then use it in a suitable part of my WIP that requires it.

I modify scenes by blending in some of my own ideas, some that sprout from watching the original scenes, or from other movies I have seen, some of them from even many years back.

It's the exact opposite of what a movie producer would do, right? Read a book, make adaptations and make a movie out of it.

Anyone else do this? I think many do. Well, let's hear your experiences.
Last edited by Shield-of-Dardania on Mon November 21st, 2011, 11:30 am, edited 3 times in total.

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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Mon November 21st, 2011, 1:48 pm

I rarely get that analytical, unless I'm not enjoying the movie, but for general inspiration I do like the visual and audio experience. I love the sets, the costumes, the music.

Your method is interesting. I may have to give that a try sometime.

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fljustice
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Post by fljustice » Mon November 21st, 2011, 3:45 pm

I've done something similar with one-on-one gladiator fights. Movies and fictional TV (such as the Spartacus: Blood and Sand) tend to use "assisted" fights which are pretty much impossible in real life. I have quite a collection of History Channel, Military Channel, etc. shows on gladiators specifically to study the fights. I've never been trained in any fighting styles (except a couple years in Tae Kwon Do) so I try to check out the credits to see who the fight trainers are and their credentials. I've drawn quite a bit of inspiration from the reenactments.
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon November 21st, 2011, 6:39 pm

I hate writing fight scenes because they are so difficult to portray in words; your have to give detailed enough explanation so that readers who never fight, and for the most part have never seen the weapons in use, will get an idea what is going on. At the same time, you need to keep up a breathless adrenaline, or it doesn't feel like a fight.

And yes, I do the same thing. I once sat down with 'the Two Towers' and tried to write a concise description of the fights between the Riders of Rohan and the wargs. I did one sketchy, one detailed. I don't think either came anywhere near the emotional punch of the movie medium, but it was a wonderful exercise in wordsmithing. Thanks for the reminder-- I need to do more of that.

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Shield-of-Dardania
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Post by Shield-of-Dardania » Wed November 23rd, 2011, 3:10 am

As a Conn Iggulden wannabe :D , I can't avoid writing a few one-on-one, sometimes one-on-several, brawls, plus a battle or two in the genre that I'm into. You know, the kind of stuff that guys like David Gemmel, Sam Barone, Christian Cameron and Ben Kane excel in. Well, I just try my best anyway, with the meagre resources that I have.

Among the most impressive of the movies that I've watched recently (perhaps not so recent) was the epic Troy. I managed to pick out (I think, anyway) a few interesting looking sword strokes from that - from the fights involving Achilles, Patrocles and Hector - without having ever handled a real sword in my life, other than a blunt decorative samurai's katana.

Well, there was an uncle's home made sword, and I also had a few precious & memorable minutes of kendo experience with a bamboo sword, in a class conducted by my Japanese host, while on a training visit to Japan many years ago.

The sets & costumes in Troy were amazing, I thought. LoveHistory, you should check it out if you haven't.

The out-and-out battles also gave me some ideas, what with the fire missiles, rotating shields and all.

@FLJustice: my most significant period of training was also a few years in TKD. I just wanted to feel the experience, and it was great. An extra benefit of it, I would say a serendipitous one, was that, after some time, I gradually became capable of clearly following, with my eyes, the main moves of any fight or battle sequence in a movie step by step. Instead of simply seeing a wild, chaotic flurry of fists, feet or weapons. Then recalling & reenacting them in my mind. Which was fantastic for an action movie junkie like me.

Romantic scenes, adventure scenes, intrigues etc. from a movie have also given me ideas.
Last edited by Shield-of-Dardania on Wed November 23rd, 2011, 6:48 am, edited 8 times in total.

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Post by sgn1 » Wed November 30th, 2011, 4:05 pm

Another way of getting inspiration for fight-scenes is to watch or take part in re-enactments. That said there are particular styles because (mostly) they won't be using sharp weapons. However, some of the swordsmen (and women) are extremely knowledable and it's worth picking their brains. That's my experience of UK re-enactment, anyway.

In particular, fight scenes in films are very much choreographed, with light armour and weapons, so the dynamic is rather different. Whereas with re-enactment, if you've got the the correct armour (based on historical examples, rather than 'designed') and weapons, you get more of a taste. You're still as unlikely to be killed as the actors, but it feels and looks much closer to the real experience.

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Shield-of-Dardania
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Post by Shield-of-Dardania » Thu December 1st, 2011, 3:24 am

I agree. Nothing beats actual live experience. That's why I asked my then kendoka Japanese host to let me have a go at kendo when we visited his class that time.

I was in England for 7 years, but regrettably never tried anything like what you mentioned then. But I did altogether a couple of years or so of Shotokan in Sheffield, where our chief instructor was, yes, a woman, and in Birmingham, where a visiting champion once taught us the light, soft, deft foot sweep.

I tried that out with a classmate, and actually sent him tumbling down to the floor, while we were like just horsing around during coffee break. It got him so embarrased, he got up and gave me a big whack on my shin. That was ages ago, during uni days, before I had any thoughts about writing as a serious hobby.

I've also tried a session of archery at an archery range in a local shopping mall. Paid for twenty arrows, and surprisingly managed to hit a bull's eye with one of them. Fluke? Oh yeah. The other nineteen went all over the board! But at least now I can describe an archer attack with much greater feel than I could before.

An office colleague is a black belter in TKD, while her husband is a 3rd dan instructor. He's probably also quite adept in our native Malay fighting style, the silat. I've thought about getting him to arrange a few quickie lessons and/or demos, preferably including weapons, but haven't got around to it yet.

When you get a movie fight scene involving an actor who's actually proficient in the fighting arts, someone like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Gary Daniels, Jason Statham, Daniel Craig or Scott Adkins, or who's done professional boxing/wrestling, like Dwayne 'the Rock' Johnson or John Cena, then you could be more confident of the moves and sequences, even if they were choreographed.

The way I see it, even in a novel scene, you still need some 'choreography', so that the scene reads sufficently smooth and flowing. I mean, whether it's a movie or a novel, you still need to balance between realism and entertainment, right?
Last edited by Shield-of-Dardania on Thu December 1st, 2011, 6:32 am, edited 15 times in total.

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Post by sgn1 » Thu December 1st, 2011, 8:50 am

Absolutely, you have to ensure entertainment,. If the combatants are in heavy mail (for my lot) they are going to get tired pretty fast (even if really used to it), they aren't going to be leaping around too long, if at all :rolleyes: So, that needs to be taken into account. Doesn't preclude a bit of drama though :D

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Shield-of-Dardania
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Post by Shield-of-Dardania » Mon December 5th, 2011, 1:59 am

Plod, grind and slog till ya drop. And you could still get beat by a lighter armed but speedier and more agile opponent.

I can imagine a tired warrior drawing his last ounce of strength, going in for the kill, missing, then collapsing under the weight of all that metal, and then unable to get up again.

I wonder how much a standard basic set of armour would weigh. Say, chainmail, breast plate and helm, plus arm, shoulder and leg plates.

The Norman army was probably the most heavily armoured of its time, I believe. With the destrier riding cavalry its most impressive component, right?
Last edited by Shield-of-Dardania on Mon December 5th, 2011, 2:11 am, edited 2 times in total.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon December 5th, 2011, 3:00 am

I do renaissance re-enactment, and the big fairs all have jousting in real armor. My six-foot friend's set of plate mail with chain mail gorget weighs sixty-five pounds.
I have no idea if that would be the same in your various eras, but the aforementioned friend is a tad anal about accuracy.

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