Posted on: July 21, 2020
The Screen Combat Handbook, 1st Edition
A Practical Guide for Filmmakers
By Kevin Inouye
My hope is The Screen Combat Handbook, A Practical Guide for Filmmakers will be useful to independent filmmakers (directors, cinematographers, editors, designers, coordinators, performers) wanting to incorporate action into their work. This includes anyone trying to transition from stage combat training into screen action, actors wanting to try doing more of their own fights, stunt performers wanting to expand into choreography, or shooting pre-viz video, or really anyone venturing into new or different aspects of this field. It's all at a fairly basic level, broad more than deep, which I think is perfect for low-budget indie filmmakers especially, but anyone can benefit from at least a basic knowledge of what the other departments need to do their jobs.
The Screen Combat Handbook, A Practical Guide for Filmmakers combines the cinematography aspects of shot planning with 1. The technical needs of selling hits or hiding swaps or f/x; 2. The performer's perspective, and 3. The editor's perspective in selling effective action.
A fairly comprehensive list of considerations from different aspects of production, which can hopefully inspire collaboration and open up people's ideas about what's possible. It's the first book on the subject that addresses all these aspects, and it's the first book on the subject really written as a practical guide for achievable goals. Most of the extant books "so you want to be a stuntman" kind of thing are focused on professional stunt careers, something the books cannot deliver on.
I conducted interviews with working professionals in a number of aspects of production and performance, from the US, Canada, the UK, and elsewhere, as well as a survey of other resources, including videos, organizations, and books. I also created another short film with screening and critique at a large Indieclub group meeting and gained the blessings of my local stunt coordinator, among others. I'm a SAG-AFTRA stunt performer and actor, a fight choreographer/coordinator for both stage and screen (SAFD Certified as a stage combat instructor), owner of a prop weapons rental business, and an armorer/gun wrangler.
I always approach writing with two guiding principles: 1. What would be a helpful resource, and 2. What do I have the experience, knowledge, or other authority to write? That was successful with my first book, the Theatrical Firearms Handbook (to date the only book on the subject), and when asked if I had any other book ideas, this was the other thing that came to mind.