About ten years ago, I tried to stab this crazy Goth guy and he threw me through a pile of chairs.
Fortunately, we were doing WMA — Western Martial Arts and the daggers were blunt and we were wearing body armor. The chairs however, were real, but the impact fixed my shoulder, which had been painful for the previous month or so. I took this as a good omen and Hugh Hancock and I have been close friends ever since.
Hugh is an independent animator, think Ed Wood does Machinima but actually good.
That’s how, years later, I ended up in a warehouse clad in skintight spandex and clutching a plastic sword.
Hugh had had this slightly bonkers idea. He would take the Death Knights from World of Warcraft and use them to make a love story.
Though it would use the World of Warcraft universe, it would be created using animation software and not just Machinima (virtual puppetry using game engines). It would be done straight and not for laughs. It would be a proper Fantasy story. Like Peter Jackson, Hugh actually reads the genre and wants to make movies that make sense. It would also have proper actors, including Joanna Lumley, Anna Chancellor, and Jack Davenport.
Oh, and did I mention BRIAN BLESSED?
Apart from being a genre fan, Hugh is also a martial artist. He wanted authentic fight scenes–well, authentic for a world of undead super warriors and ninja Minotaurs (my idea, apparently).
He was already using motion capture, so he drafted in myself and a couple of other Historical European Martial Artists.
Philip T Crawley and myself roughed it out in my back garden while Hugh filmed and took notes. Then came the summons to an empty storage unit he’d rented and filled with motion capture kit. Phil couldn’t make it, so I ended up playing doing the sword and buckler he’d choreographed. The new partner, an expert in Italian longsword, then learned my German Longsword sequences. But — hey — we’re broad-sword minded, eh?
The result… it’s kind of nuts, but the educated eye will recognize versions of Medieval German Longsword and Sword and Buckler techniques.
Watching this now, I wonder what Hans Liechtenauer would have made of it had he’d ported through from the 14th century.
Probably, the founder of our tradition would have rushed to correct our technique. And we’ve have shoe-horned him into a motion capture suit to nail those pesky reconstructions for all time.
Meanwhile Hugh has managed to produce a 20 minute film best described as “Robert E Howard does The Hunger Games after spending too much time online gaming.”
You can watch the pulpy goodness that is Death Knight Love Story for free. Go take a look!
M Harold Page is the sword-wielding author of works such as Swords vs Tanks (Charles Stross: “Holy ****!”). For his take on writing, read Storyteller Tools: Outline from vision to finished novel without losing the magic. (Ken MacLeod: “…very useful in getting from ideas etc to plot and story.” Hannu Rajaniemi: “…find myself to coming back to [this] book in the early stages.”)