The Night Shift: Falling with Style

The Night Shift is the on-set diary of Fighting Owl Film's new independent supernatural-adventure-comedy of the same name currently in pre-production in Mobile, AL. Over the course of the next several weeks and months, you'll get an insider's peek at what it's like for filmmakers to craft a new entry of paranormal pop culture from Erin Lilley, a producer and actress on the film.

Falling With Style

I am a klutz. We're talking, grade-A, number one, walking disaster. Not only have I tumbled down a few staircases in my life, but I've even had one fall out from underneath me. I am a pro at falling down, just not good at - as Buzz Lightyear might say - falling with style. Luckily, that's where Khristian comes in.

Khristian Fulmer is the lead actor for The Night Shift (he plays Rue Morgan, nightwatchman extraordinaire). He's also our stunt choreographer. Before he came to us, Khristian worked as a stuntman in a wild west show in Colorado and has very graciously offered to help teach those of us involved in any stuntwork how to stay out of the hospital.

Before I go any further, please note that while there is not a lot of stuntwork in The Night Shift, and nothing is super complicated, we have a trained professional helping us. Without choreography and practice, even the simplest stunt could end up getting someone hurt, and we don't want that. More importantly, our insurance company doesn't want that. Please do not attempt any form of stuntwork without professional supervision. If you've ever watched anything on YouTube, you know it can end badly.

So, with that in mind, Khristian, Andrew (who plays the cowboy demon, Trigger, and is pictured here with Khristian), Thomas (the director/my other half), Stacey (asst. director/video diary) and I met last Saturday to plan some fights. As I mentioned in a previous post, we don't have a physical studio. Fighting Owl Films and The Night Shift are based out of my townhouse apartment. We don't have a dance studio or rehearsal space, or anything fancy like that. Heck, Thomas and I barely have living space right now. We grabbed a mat from the local sporting goods store and headed over to a grassy space near our building to get started.

There are pros and cons to this sort of practice space, with the major pro being that it mimics the environment we'll be filming in. However, now our neighbors (including the ones with the Christmas wreath still on the door, only now with added Easter decorations) all think we're completely insane. Honestly, I don't totally blame them.

For starters, we spent the first half of the rehearsal on Khristian and Andrew's fist fight. That meant the neighbors saw two twenty-somethings pummeling each other, with one flying through the air repeatedly. All the while three other adults looked on, taking pictures and video of the whole thing. Every now and then, the fight would break up, and the participants would grab some water, chat for a bit, and then start up again doing the same exact moves. We were a novelty. A few neighbors even came outside to gawk. Not one asked what we were doing.

The second half of rehearsal was spent on my fall, and it must not have been anywhere near as interesting as the fist fight, because all the neighbors went back to their apartments. There's actually a lot more involved in falling straight backwards than you might think. It's completely choreographed, right down to which foot you start on, how far you lean forward before going back, where your hands go and all of that is before you add in the person tackling you.

That's right, I don't just fall, I get tackled like a football player. Now, I'm 5' 3" and weigh, well, not a lot. The tackler is 6-foot-tall and very muscular. I'll let you do the math. This is why we choreograph, folks.

I'm a little sore. Not terribly, though, and I really think I can attribute most of that to holding open a heavy choir folder through a very long Easter Vigil Mass. We have another stunt rehearsal in a couple of weeks to add in the tackling and choreograph one more fight. The mat is staying in the living room so I can practice in the evenings after work. With a little luck, by the time this is over, I'll have something new to add to the special skills section of my resume: "...dialects, ballet, falling with style."