Behind the Scenes of a Lightsaber Battle
So...as you may have seen in their Teaser Trailer, I had a little bit of fun with Allison and Nigel's bridal party at their May the 4th wedding!
Speaking with the newlyweds in the lead up to their big day it was clear that they were going to go all out with the Star Wars details. Throughout the day they had R2D2 figurines, a mechanical Yoda, a Millennium Falcon lodged in their wedding cake — their celebrant even donned a Princess Leia outfit for the ceremony.
They also mentioned to me prior to the day that they would have 8 lightsabers — one for each of the bridal party to 'do battle' with at some point.
This was very exciting news to me as I've always wanted to choreograph a laser sword fight and give the post-production process a go. Obviously you need to be cautious with 'direction' on a wedding day and find the right time and place to organise it so as to not distract everyone from the importance of the day.
Fortunately, an opportunity presented itself later in the evening while everyone was inside eating. Photographer James Field and I whisked our bridal party Jedi crew outside to an alley down the side of the building where it was particularly dark and foreboding — perfect for a lightsaber confrontation.
I had had no prior chance to brief these guys on what I wanted to do so it was a great exercise in creating something off-the-bat quickly. I imagined moving the camera through the scene, passing by one battle after the next before arriving at the bride and groom, who would do...something...I really hadn't thought of anything beforehand and figured it was best to let everyone decide in the moment.
I paired the bridal party up and they formed a sort of 'line' down the alley with Allison and Nigel at the rear. Next we figured out some simple fight moves for each pair to serve up in a way that would allow me to pass by and travel to the next battle. Fortunately everyone was fired up and had plenty of enthusiasm for my indecipherable directorial ramblings and got the gist of what I was trying to say. We did three takes of the whole thing — one take saw a lightsaber bend in half so we needed to massage it back to full health before going again.
By the time I arrived at the bride and groom it was clear that Allison was keen to 'use the force' to hold her husband at bay before reeling him in for big kiss. This worked brilliantly and I decided to run back with the camera to reveal everyone waving their lightsabers around and all getting along again.
The tricky part of course is the post-production side of a lightsaber battle. Luckily, the sabers they had purchased all lit up and flashed a bit when they struck each other so the vibe of it was already there. To give everything a bit more of a glow I duplicated and layered the shot, blurring the top layer and blending it with the original underneath. Next I got some party light FX and overlayed them to imply lens flares from the sabers; added a couple of 'contact flares'; inserted some lightsaber sound effects where appropriate and lastly colour graded the whole composition.
Look... I could've done a much better job but for a 3 minute setup in an alley out the back of a wedding reception venue it ain't bad.
Special thanks goes to the amazing on-screen talent, Stephen Ludwig for lighting and BTS footage and James Field for allowing me to take over the shoot for a minute.