John Towsen has posted a couple of great videos from Jackie Chan on how he develops his action scenes. The videos are from a hard to find DVD “My Stunts”. But it’s all available on youtube in 10 parts. It’s totally worth watching to better understand what it takes to create exciting entertainment.
The great silent comedians were all first-rate stuntmen. Jackie Chan was a great stunt man who also became a star. Watching him work is probably very similar to the way Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd made movies. It’s great to see a filmmaker who isn’t locked into a screenplay for his work. He’s clearly thinking about the audience and how to be entertaining, on a small budget.
Here is part 1.
In part 2 Listen for the phrase “let the audience know”. He choreographs to make it clear for the audience what he’s doing.
In part 3, we see a lot of falls. There are lots of exciting shots in this part.
Part 4 has examples of on-set gag development.
In Part 5 they use toy cars to develop ideas for how to have cars perform stunts as if the cars were actors. Jackie’s stunt lab is introduced in this part.
Part 6 gets into wire work. It’s interesting how they use small wire effects to build up regular stunts. By making feet fly out from under an actor, they create a much more powerful impact. I wonder if animation needs more glass breaking.
Towards the end of part 7 he displays his research room, where he collects photos and ideas for stunts in future movies.
Part 8 is all about improvisation with whatever objects he finds, as well as adding flourishes and comedy and making it “pretty”. Setting up falls to have visual impact.
Part 9 shows the work that goes into getting good takes that have a natural rhythm, precise timing and good composition.
Part 10 Jackie shows how he demonstrates character in his action. “You have to be yourself, and more creative.”