Swords, stunts and shots all met at Center Stage during a collaboration between UVU’s Filmography Club and the True Edge Academy of Swordsmanship.
True Edge Academy, known on campus as the Historical European Martial Arts club (HEMA), hosted the Filmography Club and special guest stunt choreographer and accomplished swordsman Joshua Von War-Bear. HEMA students were taught a basic stunt choreography, which the Filmography Club members captured from various angles.
HEMA typically focuses on the martial arts aspect of swordsmanship, researching texts from periods where a certain sword or style was used and then learning the techniques that would have been used in deadly combat.
Chad Heely is the instructor of the True Edge Academy of Swordsmanship on campus and president of the HEMA club. He describes his swordsmanship club as serious study and training. “It is an actual martial art, it is self-defense with a weapon and it is a party.”
The film students set up cameras as Von War-Bear and Heely taught a short sequence to the HEMA students, teaching each student the perfect way to make a missed slash look great and how to get that motion picture perfect sword sound. Overreactions, dodges and smacks with the flat of the swords drew both laughs and consternation as the students adapted.
Von War-Bear, a stunt choreographer and sword-maker was excited to be invited to instruct the class on stunt work. Von War-Bear has worked on independent films and Outpost, a TV series.
“Between this and sitting on the couch watching Netflix for 8 hours, here I am,” Von War-Bear said of helping with the event.
The stunt aspect of swordsmanship is very different from the actual combat part, focused on more cinematic sequences and dramatic motions to engage an audience. Many of the students laughed as they discussed the ways the stunt-focused choreography would fall short in a match with Heely.
JoAnna Lee Harper, a sophomore digital cinema student and the president of the Filmography Club, met Von War-Bear on the set of the Outpost and thought working with the True Edge students would be instructive for her club members.
“One of the most valuable things in film is to get on a set and start going,” Harper said.
The Filmography Club members captured each group from four different angles, working with the combatants and Von War-Bear to film the perfect sequence. They plan to edit the footage and make small videos for each of the participating students.
The groups plan to keep collaborating more in the future. Von War-Bear can be found at his website, darkarcherdesigns.com, and the HEMA and Filmography clubs can be found on campus or on their social media pages.
Photo by Jonah Hokit