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Star Wars fan film choreographer: How to train like a Jedi at home

Bored at home? What better time to learn how to train like a Jedi! One of the stars and choreographer of POWER: A Star Wars Fan Film, shares his tips for training with a makeshift lightsaber, plus gives insight into how he and his co-star trained for their fight in POWER. 

Here’s the official synopsis of the fan-made film:

POWER: A Star Wars Fan Film, is a 10-minute action film that tells a personal and introspective story through an epic lightsaber fight. Set in the dark times between “Revenge of the Sith” and “A New Hope,” a master and his apprentice are undercover with an illicit group of smugglers. When one turns on the other, a lightsaber duel ensues with both physical and moral stakes.

The film centers around Kai, a Jedi apprentice battling his master, Goran, whose Dark Side tendencies threaten everything Kai’s ever been taught. Kai is played by writer/director Avery Bazan, and Brandon Reddick, the film’s choreographer, plays Goran. 

Watch POWER: A Star Wars Fan Film:

PURE FANDOM: OK, so can you really train like a Jedi while at home? How?
BRANDON REDDICK: There are many ways you can train at home, especially during these trying times in quarantine. The number one rule that I preached to Avery on set that is still in effect everywhere else is SAFETY. Now, if you don’t have a lightsaber at home, find something that can work instead, but make sure it’s not too long so that you can wield it safely, even in a small space. Next up is your practice area. If you have a front or backyard, great! If not and you’re indoors, try to find a large enough area where you won’t hit anything, or you can use the paper towel tube method that I did when I was little. It’s just long enough to work, and won’t hurt anything. Also, using your imagination works wonders when holding anything besides a lightsaber hilt. Start slowly with some horizontal strikes and vertical strikes. Try to bring your arms and tip of your saber’s blade like you’re pointing towards the outside of your opponent’s body. From that point, there are many more exercises which are best learned by watching someone visually. Just be careful, have fun, and try not to get involved in an intergalactic war (just yet.)

How did you train for this fan film?
As for training, we would meet up at different locations after work, building moves upon moves. We would reference the script and ultimate plot points for where we wanted to end up in, both physically and emotionally given the stage of the fight. We did this for many days leading up the shooting days. I had extra practice since I’m a veteran member and occasional instructor for the Golden Gate Knights (GGK). GGK is an LED saber choreography and stage combat group that teaches classes every Sunday in San Francisco and performs shows at special events. This is where Avery found me one foggy Sunday afternoon. The rest of our story leads us to a galaxy far far away.

What inspired the choreography you used?
We wanted to focus on more visceral attacks/defenses rather than flashy moves, flourishes, and acrobatic maneuvers we’ve seen in other films and shorts. Even though our film was set directly after the prequels, we felt like utilizing some inspired choreography from the original trilogy would translate well to our environment. For anyone who knows the movements and strikes from those [original] films, you should see some hints from those duels. Another area that was important was consistency in between sections of fighting. There’s a certain poetry where we had both Kai and Goran do similar moves and attacks at different points in the fight, noting that they knew each other’s styles. This further drove home who had the upper hand in different moments.

How did you use the fight choreography to tell the story between this master and his apprentice?
Adding in occasional physical combat with punches, kicks and head butts not only added to the grittiness in the duel between master and apprentice, but also a personal closeness. There are definitely moments of power and struggle that we we’re hoping to convey without just the use of lightsabers and Force powers. Also key was allowing for moments of pause with saber binds and lockups, giving us time to hash out more of the story, as Kai struggles with why his Master Goran has lost himself towards the Dark Side. Were there moments where we could have struck a winning blow? Sure, several times, but that wasn’t essentially what Goran wanted to do. We always had the idea that Goran was giving Kai his final lesson of sorts. Having moments of pause and breaks in the fighting gave us these chances. Plus, just having one big everlasting duel can get boring. This way, we were able to weave in details to the characters and their struggle, giving more context to their fight.

Image: POWER: A Star Wars Fan Film

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Liz Prugh

Liz is the co-founder of PureFandom.com, an always aspiring #fiercefemale, and loves geeking out over any and all sci-fi/fantasy. She believes Luke Skywalker is the most underrated Jedi and still thinks vampires are cool. She hosts several Pure Fandom podcasts on The World of Game of Thrones, The CW's 'Roswell, New Mexico', and Star Wars. You can find her currently covering 'Legacies'. Nerd out with her on Twitter @lizprugh.

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