Fight Choreography Project and Lessons Learned

fight choreography yasmin harry

Besides Westerns, I’ve got a love for old school kung fu movies. You know, the ones with bad dubbing, and really quick focus changes. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to create a film with awesome fight choreography.

Another reason was watching this scene from Iron Fist:

I won’t go into the show or how horrible I thought this fight scene was. I will, however, try to understand hard it was to make a fight scene interesting to watch. It seems 50 cuts in 30 seconds is not the way to go.

It was quite an adventure learning. Definitely check out Jared Kirby’s stage combat / fight choreography class at NYC Combat

1. Practice

The entire fight was pretty simple. Just 10 steps. Practiced for 3 hours. Shot it in 3 hours. I think more practice was needed. Just to get it to the point where neither actor was thinking.

2. Divide and Conquer

Fights can be broken down into beats, just like a script. Someone’s winning, then losing, change of tactics. Etc etc. It makes shooting much easier, plus it saves the actors’ energy.

3. Angles Have Their Limits

Mastering the exploitation of camera angles with look great combined with the actors selling the hits. But at some point, it helps just to show someone getting hit and make the audience feel something. Next fight, I want to show more hits. No one got hurt this time. That final kick was pretty cool. It was barely a tap but Yasmin sold it, plus the slow motion falling totally made it look cooler than it actually was.

4. Fight Choreography is Hard

Duh-doy. It was quite the workout doing the same sequence over and over and over for 4 different angles. I recommend a ton of coffee, plenty of rest, and deodorant. It gets dangerous when the mind wanders in the middle of fight choreography.

Final Scene:

Spaghetti Western about cupcakes: A Mouthful of Cupcakes

A Mouthful of Cupcakes - a spaghetti western... about cupcakes

I can’t believe it’s been two whole years since I made my first film “A Mouthful of Cupcakes”, a Spaghetti Western! It all started when I was binge watching some old Sergio Leone flicks like “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” and “A Fistful of Dollars.” I liked how there was so much tension and stuff going on between people not talking and looking at each other funny. Having been inspired, I started looking for people shooting westerns in the Boston area. But alas, none were shooting. So I took fate into my own hands, wrote and produced A Mouthful of Cupcakes.

That was a hell of a learning experience, from learning about film making to paperwork with SAG. Luckily, youtube has a whole bunch of videos about those topics. Didn’t have fancy gear either, but that didn’t stop me. I shot it with my trusty old iPhone 5 and recorded audio with an iPhone 3.

Then the editing began… I wished someone would have warned me how time consuming this would be. The entire shoot took less than 8 hours, but the editing took weeks, mostly because there were so many little things to tweak like color correction, then finding the right music, sound effects, and then rearranging the scenes for comedic effect. It felt like working on a painting or something, I’m never really done with it.

In the end, it was a great learning experience and collaboration with friends. Since then I’ve spawned several projects including a couple of presidential campaign videos  and a quickie about actors. But man, I loved this project and the people involved. A sequel has been written and I can’t wait to start working on this again. It’s gonna be a Kung Fu Spaghetti Western!


“A Mouthful of Cupcakes” – Western from Harry Phan on Vimeo.


Green X and Ham

This has been on my mind for quite some time. Right after making the cupcake movie, I wrote a bunch of stuff. And here I am! Sam-I-Am as a drug dealer.

Filmmaking Lessons Learned

Since starting this new adventure of film making, I’ve learned so much. Sure, planning out the shots was easy once I got the film in my head. Getting people together was hard. There’s probably an app for that. Then comes the shoot… Controlling light was hard, especially the sun. (Worst actor ever, couldn’t take direction.) Capturing audio was tough. I’m going to need an expert on those, or watch a youtube video or take some free online class. Directing and acting in the same movie really threw my brain for a loop. It was nice to have actors who know what they’re doing though.

Post production:

I thought everything captured would be PERFECT! HAH! Alas, it was not. Brightness was different from shot to shot, even the colors were uneven throughout. And then the audio… man, it was like all my neighbors were doing landscaping that weekend. Well, here’s what I learned about color correcting and noise removal. For future reference, I’ll need to listen and watch the takes after/during the shots, like a chef tastes his food while he’s cooking.

Color Correction

Improving audio

Aaand after a week of post here’s the final product! (that’s a lie, I’m probably going to end up editing some more. I think I’ve developed OCD)


In conclusion, filmmaking is fun, but I think I’m gonna need a team.