Samstag, 2. Mai 2009

First Official Entry- Kampfansage


Well, I promised to show you some stuff I made and here it is. I chose to showcase the weapons in "Kampfansage- Der letzte Schueler" (aka "Challenge- The Last Apprentice"), since that project started my career in the film industry.

Before that, there were only the shortmovies I worked on with my friend Ulrik Bruchholz of FLatCOIN fame, wich were kind of a preparation for "the real thing". Actually Ulrik was the one recommending me for this project. First I was hired to do storyboards, but after a while director Johannes Jaeger and the producers decided, that I'd be a good choice for the weapons too, based on my experience in the Reenactment and LARP (Live Action Role PLay) scene and my cost efficient work methods.

You see, ever since I have been 15, I have been building medieval weapons and crude armors for fun. Its just an interesting hobby and a great way to sometimes get away from the drawing board/computer. Wearing and using this stuff in combat is even better. You propably cant imagine how great it feels to stand on a battlefield, wearing the heavy steel and leather on your body, sword and shield in hand, your friends at your side, awaiting the onslaught of the enemy.

Even if its LARP (where live steel weapons are substituted with padded replicas made of fiberglass, foam and latex and weird people in costumes wearing latex masks are running around)), it's an intense experience that never gets old. And you learn a lot from it. Over the years I have met many armourers, fighters, LARPers and other people in those scenes and learned all about the construction of armour, weapons, clothes and the history behind them. To cut a long story short: I learned all there is to know about what it takes to become a good propmaker ;)

And Kampfansage was the first project to really prove myself. The flic was the first postapocalyptic martial arts movie to come out of Germany. We only had a budget of about 300 000 Euros to spend, so there was a lot of pressure on us. We wanted to create something mindblowingly awesome- especially in terms of creating fast, brutal Hong Kong Martial Arts fights, so naturally things like weapons were a key element in this film.

The postapocalyptic setting actually helped us (especially me) a lot and allowed us to use junk, old rags and ruins to create a visual identity for the movie, wich saved a lot of money on the production. You just had to walk across a set and rip out pipes and other stuff to get your materials. That's what the weapons were based on.

Basically all of them were made of 4mm thick aluminium splints cut into shape for the blades, some pipe, some screws, nuts, some wood and alot of duct tape. Easy to build, hard to destroy. The weapons looked like junk themselves, but that was intended.

It was pretty easy to construct them. The hard part was creating full contact replicas of those things. The weapons themselves would have been dangerous for the actors and stuntmen, considering the different coreographies, so I had to come up with a cheap and fast way to create some safe weapons that could be used. To cut a long story short, I used thin bamboo and aluminium pipes as basis, coated them with normal insulation foam for pipes and sealed them with a special foil called DC FIX, wich had the advantage of being relatively cheap and readily available. Another great advantage was, that the DC FIX sortiment includes foil with a wood structure printed on it. Using that stuff made making full contact replicas of Mathis Landwehr's Escrima sticks extemely easy for instance.

For the replicas with blades I simply cut out the form of the blades from an old outdoor matress and glued them to the insulation foam. The rest was just sealing them with some metallic duct tape and they were ready to go.

There were some other, rather complicated props though. The "Bosco Tonfas" are a good example. Bosco, being the films bad guy was supposed to have a special set of weapons. The concept was, that he would wield a variation of the bladed tonfas his soldiers were using and given the fact that he was descibed as an unhonorable, backstabbing bastard in the script, he needed something special to get rid of his enemies. So Johannes Jaeger and I sat down and thought about a special "surprise" we could incorporate. The end result was a hidden retractable blade in one of his weapons.

I created a small seax like aluminium sword, cut the lenght of the copper pipes and screwed some wood inside, so the blade would stick. an bent aluminium piece extending from the grip was used to create some traction and stabilise the sword. the second tofa was fitted to look exactly like the "surprise" one and finally I created a weapon holder from wood and a special effects makeup prop (a plastic version of the sword that sticks through the body of actress Zora Holdt at the end of the movie) to make the set complete. It's the most complicated set of weapons I made for that movie and I'm rather proud of their effect on the screen.

There were alot of other things I created for that production.. weapon stands, holsters, and miscellaneous stuff you see throughout. And here's the payoff: All that stuff I made, the weapons, weapon equipment and so on were created on a budget of 100 euros (including travel costs). So before you go out, trying to buy things you need for the film you're planning - think about what can be done with a little imagination, dedication and some good ol' craftsmanship.

Be creative. "Low Budget" doesn't necessarily equal "Low Quality" ;)


Labels: ,

Freitag, 10. April 2009

Virusarts Berlin Workblog is now online!!


I have been thnking about starting a workblog for quite some time now, simply because my homepage VirusArts is more geared towards presenting portfolio pieces from my illustration background.

And now here it is.. the Virusarts Workblog. Devoted to personal projects and my line of work in the German film industry, this blog hopefully will give information about what I do apart from drawing pretty pictures for money.

The emphasis will lie heavily on the propmaking and armourmaking work I occasionally get assigned to, but of course there's going to be some WIP's of my pictures, detailed information about my workflow and some personal thoughts and tips on the creation of something special.

I'm still in the process of figuring out how to structure this blog properly without boring people to death with useless thoughts, so please have a little patience. In a few weeks his blog will be filled with past, present and future projects, so feel free to come back anytime.

Well, thats all for now, I guess...