Year-end Wrap Up

It’s been a heck of a year, which at least partly explains the dearth of updates this last Fall.

Here’s a bit of a link-tastic 2011 wrap up in reverse:

I just met with outgoing Artistic Director of Richmond Shakespeare Grant Mudge about doing fights for their upcoming production of Macbeth. Should be a great cast to work with, and I’m looking forward to it.

I had the pleasure of doing five or six day’s work on Lincoln, the Stephen Spielberg feature shooting around here this last Fall. I was hired as a Special Skills extra, primarily as Union Cavalry- I had a day as “ND Rider” (Non-descript) but didn’t end up even getting in front of the camera in that costume. At least half the days were like that- show up, get geared up, and then stand around all day without getting called up. Riding was great though, especially one day of getting to ride in formation (a new skill for me) with the core group of cavalry, mostly re-enactors who have been doing this kind of thing for a long time and have their own horses & gear. Once they opened up (which took a couple days, and showing them I wasn’t going to hold them back), they had all sorts of pointers in how to wear the gear, how to dress ranks on horseback, etc. – plus I got to ride past Daniel Day Lewis, who made a damn convincing Lincoln. As much as the guys there like to bitch about the carbines and wearing a sword, it all came pretty naturally to me given my background, and it feels pretty badass having the crossed baldrics, with a sword on your hip and a Sharps Carbine slung over the other shoulder, great-cape flapping in the wind and a strong horse at the end the reigns.

That was my first SAG hire, having earned my SAG card doing stunt work on To Have & To Hold earlier in the Fall. That was also only about six day’s work, but as stunt players they’re much less likely to leave you sitting around- the pay was up to 10x what I got as background extra, when you add in a stunt bump and overtime, and a muuuch better base rate. The work was challenging and informative, as the world of professional stunts is filled with cliques of stunt crews that bring in local hires (like us) when necessary, but bring their own set of default expectations, language, etc. that took time to adjust to- time that we didn’t always have on set. I speak for myself and a couple others here, folks with similar training (stage combat, USA stunt school, etc). Definitely something I wouldn’t mind learning and doing more of, if I can.

This year also held a number of teaching engagements (several high schools, the VCU summer discovery series, an Advanced Movement for Actors class at VCU, an Intro to Drama section at VCU, some workshops, etc), interning at the VA Beach Bash and Summer Sling (SAFD stage combat workshops), my first SETC conference, half of my graduate school, fight direction for The Bluest Eye, Shakespeare’s R&J, and Legacy of Light as well as the VCU short film The First Stone, directing The Clink at SALT, an acting job for a Resiliency Training Video for the Kansas National Guard, SAFD renewals in several categories (Recommended pass in Knife, Sword & Shield, Quarterstaff, pass in Smallsword)… 2011 opened up with the Paddy Crean workshop in Banff, and will close with me about to head to Chicago for the Advanced Combat Intensive. I began the year with long hair and short beard, shaved it completely for the National Guard spot, grew everything shaggy for Lincoln, and have then buzzed it again for a small part in Lord of the Flies (and so I can stop eating my mustache). My two year old boys now regularly sword-fight with their foam swords, and my seven year old daughter is studying ving chun and going to take horseback riding lessons (hey, I’ve now shown that it’s a marketable skill!). The props inventory has expanded only slightly, but with some great items (most notably more front venting blank guns and a big batch of aluminum broadswords). We’re now on Facebook, where updates are much more frequent than on the blog.

So how do you top that?

Hopefully I’ll find out in 2012, as I have my final semester of grad school (including thesis, more teaching, and a graduate seminar in fight direction), get my MFA in Theatre Pedagogy, present a couple workshops at SETC, do more fight direction and acting, hopefully get Teacher’s Certification with the Society of American Fight Directors, and hopefully a job!

Wishing you all the best possible in 2012.

Stay safe, have fun, and look good doing it!

One Comment

  1. Broadus Mattison
    Posted December 29, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like you had a great 2011, full of adventure and forward progress on your goals. Here’s to a rousing 2012!


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