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Nathan Gilleland





Joined: 25 Apr 2008

Posts: 199

PostPosted: Wed 28 May, 2008 2:29 pm    Post subject: film sword issue         Reply with quote

My brother and I are going to try making a small-scale private medieval film, but need weapons to do so. I looked at several websites that offer film swords/stage combat swords for sale or rent, but they are simply out of our budget range.

I was walking through a Menard's Store recently (my local hardware store) and saw some mild steel bars in the welding section. I know that they don't have any kind of temper, (they bend without too much effort), but I am considering buying a couple to make some full tang short swords to use in our film.

We would take extra precautions and our fight choreography is very particular in keeping us safe anyway.

My question is this: Am I being incredibly foolish? Or since we are not going to beat these cheap swords like baseball bats and use extra safety precautions, is it a viable thought?

Cost is just a huge factor for us right now.

Thank you!

Seek Honor before Wealth,
Truth before Honor,
God Before all
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Johnathan F





Joined: 21 May 2008

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Wed 28 May, 2008 2:51 pm    Post subject: Re: film sword issue         Reply with quote

Nathan Gilleland wrote:
My brother and I are going to try making a small-scale private medieval film, but need weapons to do so. I looked at several websites that offer film swords/stage combat swords for sale or rent, but they are simply out of our budget range.

I was walking through a Menard's Store recently (my local hardware store) and saw some mild steel bars in the welding section. I know that they don't have any kind of temper, (they bend without too much effort), but I am considering buying a couple to make some full tang short swords to use in our film.

We would take extra precautions and our fight choreography is very particular in keeping us safe anyway.

My question is this: Am I being incredibly foolish? Or since we are not going to beat these cheap swords like baseball bats and use extra safety precautions, is it a viable thought?

Cost is just a huge factor for us right now.

Thank you!


Personally i think that you should just buy some cheap medieval swords from like china or something. they are all over ebay. You could get them for like 20 bucks each as long as you are not beating the hell out of them they could work out alright.

If you are worried about full tang then i would say still buy the cheap swords but take it apart and try to make it full tang by welding or advancing the handle up or any thing that comes to mind to alter it. I say this because in my mind making your own swords is a hard and long process and is also more expensive.
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Thomas Watt




Location: Metrowest Boston
Joined: 19 Sep 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 159

PostPosted: Wed 28 May, 2008 4:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You don't say what part or how much a part of the film the swords and sword combat would be...
but if the swords aren't starring (i.e. receiving close-up shots, etc.) and the combat scenes don't form a major part of the story, you could probably do fine with home made sword-looking objects. The camera is fairly easy to fool depending on the lighting.
Otherwise, I'd say spend the money - also check with your local costume department in the theater school (college or university for instance) to see if they have something available. Having gotten to go through and outfit myself in one of those once, I gained a new respect for the Hollywood term "costume drama"...
Laughing Out Loud

Have 11 swords, 2 dirks, half a dozen tomahawks and 2 Jeeps - seem to be a magnet for more of all.
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Nathan Gilleland





Joined: 25 Apr 2008

Posts: 199

PostPosted: Wed 28 May, 2008 9:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Johnathan:

I am very wary of purchasing and modifying cheap Ebay swords due to several reasons. I have seen several bad occurrences happen with stainless steel sword blades and I am uncomfortable with rat tangs. I also don't feel like I'd be able to trust a modified and welded full tang that wasn't an original aspect of the sword as I've seen welded tangs snap rather dangerously if swung too hard or struck against anything. Worried

I do appreciate the idea very much and will certainly keep it in mind for future projects though. *Looks thoughtfully at some of my wall-hangers* Happy

Thomas:

I think that I'll invest in professional stage swords for the 2 or 3 that will star in the movie, but I need to outfit a small army, thus I need a lot of stock weapons that I can't afford to invest a lot of money in. The swords won't be subjected to unreasonable stress, (no baseball bat swings or beating trees), minimal sword on sword contact if any at all. (I'm trying to go for a bit of realism here, and as I understand, you tried to minimize the amount of blade-to-blade contact you put your sword through. that's what a shield was for Wink )

I think that I may buy a single bar and make a prototype and see how it handles and looks.

If anyone has any other ideas, comments, or knows of a reason that I really shouldn't be doing this Eek! , please let me know.

I'll try to post some pictures of the finished prototype here when it's finished. (can't say when that will be. Hopefully soon.)

Seek Honor before Wealth,
Truth before Honor,
God Before all
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Johnathan F





Joined: 21 May 2008

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Thu 29 May, 2008 10:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Gilleland wrote:
Johnathan:

I am very wary of purchasing and modifying cheap Ebay swords due to several reasons. I have seen several bad occurrences happen with stainless steel sword blades and I am uncomfortable with rat tangs. I also don't feel like I'd be able to trust a modified and welded full tang that wasn't an original aspect of the sword as I've seen welded tangs snap rather dangerously if swung too hard or struck against anything. Worried

I do appreciate the idea very much and will certainly keep it in mind for future projects though. *Looks thoughtfully at some of my wall-hangers* Happy

.)


Well i agree with you about the danger but i assumed you were doing extremely light contact in which it woullndt be an issue. Maybe you should buy just a few good swords that can take the hits and everytime you want to film the fight during your close ups you just switch it with a good sword and when your farther away filming the whole army they dont all need functioning swords. Just my 2 cents on how to save a buck
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Sammy Jackson





Joined: 28 Mar 2008

Posts: 38

PostPosted: Thu 29 May, 2008 10:58 pm    Post subject: ........................................         Reply with quote

where are you filming the film? my mates are in the movie industry and they have beaters
sammy the man
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Anders Backlund




Location: Sweden
Joined: 24 Oct 2007

Posts: 629

PostPosted: Fri 30 May, 2008 6:34 am    Post subject: Re: film sword issue         Reply with quote

Nathan Gilleland wrote:
My brother and I are going to try making a small-scale private medieval film, but need weapons to do so. I looked at several websites that offer film swords/stage combat swords for sale or rent, but they are simply out of our budget range.

I was walking through a Menard's Store recently (my local hardware store) and saw some mild steel bars in the welding section. I know that they don't have any kind of temper, (they bend without too much effort), but I am considering buying a couple to make some full tang short swords to use in our film.

We would take extra precautions and our fight choreography is very particular in keeping us safe anyway.

My question is this: Am I being incredibly foolish? Or since we are not going to beat these cheap swords like baseball bats and use extra safety precautions, is it a viable thought?

Cost is just a huge factor for us right now.

Thank you!


As I understand it, there are three types of swords used in movies:

1) The so-callded "hero swords", which are actual steel swords made in close detail. They're meant for close-up shots.
2) Swords made out of lightweight material. Commonly aluminum, but I think fibreglass also occurs. Used in the actual fight scenes.
3) Resin swords made in molds and simply painted. Handed out to extras, etc, for larger group scenes.

There way also be rubber weapons meant for stunts where hard weapons risk hurting the actors or stuntmen.

Mild steel may work, but they will bend and get damaged fairly easily without the benifit of being lighter then an actual sword, which increases the chances of you guys injuring each other. (And minor injuries do happen all the time even when proffesionals are involved.) I doubt it would be very ideal, so you might just want to go with aluminum instead. And if you're going to shoot group fights, even wooden swords might actually be a viable option.

Basically, movie swordfights are illusions, so there's no need to use actual steel swords for anything but close-ups.

Then again, I'm hardly an authority on this kind of thing. I know one of our members, Peter Lyon, actually works for Weta Workshop, so you might want to ask him. If anyone knows this stuff it should be him.

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
-Homer Simpson.
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Nathan Gilleland





Joined: 25 Apr 2008

Posts: 199

PostPosted: Fri 30 May, 2008 2:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Johnathan F. wrote:
Quote:
Well i agree with you about the danger but i assumed you were doing extremely light contact in which it woullndt be an issue. Maybe you should buy just a few good swords that can take the hits and everytime you want to film the fight during your close ups you just switch it with a good sword and when your farther away filming the whole army they dont all need functioning swords. Just my 2 cents on how to save a buck


Thanks. I hadn't thought about that. I may try using some cheap swords for some of the larger battle scenes, (just really have to stress the safety rules with the actors.)

Anders Buckland wrote:
Quote:
Mild steel may work, but they will bend and get damaged fairly easily without the benifit of being lighter then an actual sword, which increases the chances of you guys injuring each other. (And minor injuries do happen all the time even when proffesionals are involved.) I doubt it would be very ideal, so you might just want to go with aluminum instead. And if you're going to shoot group fights, even wooden swords might actually be a viable option.


Thanks for the hints and concern. I'm considering using aluminum for the swords as well, but mild steel is significantly cheaper for me. I'm not quite as concerned with them getting dented, but if it would turn into a health risk, I may have to reconsider. Mightn't aluminum dent just as badly?

Any idea where I may get some of the rubber weapons for a pretty good price? Perhaps a wholesale distributor that I could bulk order from?

How might you make resin swords? I'm thinking that if it's something you can pour into a mould, I could make a form from one of my real swords (to get dimensions right, etc. while keeping a level of historical accuracy) and pour the resin into that. Any approximates of how much money I would have to invest?


Please. I really love the suggestions and comments coming from this post. Any suggestions are great!

Seek Honor before Wealth,
Truth before Honor,
God Before all
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Justin King
Industry Professional



Location: flagstaff,arizona
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
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PostPosted: Fri 30 May, 2008 2:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aluminum will typically dent and/or bend more easily than steel, but it is used frequently for theatrical fights, I suspect that some types of aluminum may be better for this than others but am not terribly familiar with it's various alloys and treatments so cannot help much beyond this. An aluminum blade probably has a short life expectancy under these conditions, regardless of they alloy or any treatments. It is more expensive than mild steel but also much easier to shape so there is a trade-off either way.
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Nathan Gilleland





Joined: 25 Apr 2008

Posts: 199

PostPosted: Fri 30 May, 2008 3:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What about injection molding?

After reading Anders' post, I got to thinking. What if I was able to find a Plastics company that could do injection molds or something similar? Well, it just so happens that there is a plastics company that does just that locally in my town.

Any thoughts on this? I'm going to ask them for a quote, (which I will then post here in the spirit of information sharing), and see if it might be a efficient, safe, and affordable option for me and my brother.

Any thoughts as to the safety aspect of a resin, plastic, or fiberglass (if available) stunt/prop sword?

Seek Honor before Wealth,
Truth before Honor,
God Before all
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Nathan Gilleland





Joined: 25 Apr 2008

Posts: 199

PostPosted: Sat 31 May, 2008 11:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Unfortunately guys, I'm unable to get a quote. They require a computer program blueprint that I don't have the software to do. If anything changes in that department, I'll let you know.
Seek Honor before Wealth,
Truth before Honor,
God Before all
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Sat 31 May, 2008 2:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Gilleland wrote:
Unfortunately guys, I'm unable to get a quote. They require a computer program blueprint that I don't have the software to do. If anything changes in that department, I'll let you know.


How about wood covered with aluminium foil epoxies onto the blade flat without wrinkles for " background " weapons that would not be used for actual fighting or close-ups ?

How about looking at some vendors for really cheap wallhangers again for background swords ? And maybe some of the better Windlass swords that come unsharpened for the HERO swords: These last could be made even more dull with a little file work.

Total cost being lower than the cost and effort of making your own and at least for the hero sword look better in close-ups ?

Here is a site where you could order or at least see what is available by make & price. I would also look at their bargain bin of weapons that have flaws and are at a reduce price: You might even be able to negotiate a price for " Bulk " purchase.

http://www.kultofathena.com/

http://www.kultofathena.com/blowout.htm
These would cost you a lot less than almost any other options and if you choose well and fix/repair what needs to be fixed.

You should pay more for the two or three HERO swords for safety's sake and you might even be able to find the same sword in a cheap version and in a quality version.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Michael S. Rivet





Joined: 12 Apr 2006

Posts: 101

PostPosted: Sun 01 Jun, 2008 6:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Justin King wrote:
Aluminum will typically dent and/or bend more easily than steel, but it is used frequently for theatrical fights


My understanding is that the aluminum stunt swords are also made a lot lighter to avoid wearing out actors and stunt personnel who may have to do a dozen takes or more in an afternoon. They get nicked and dinged like crazy, but since they're shown neither in close up nor still (they're used when the sword is moving around quickly) the damage doesn't matter too much. But, yeah, I suspect they go through them like crazy.

As for those extras in the background, plastic, latex, foam rubber, etc. are all viable options. That and a quality paint job. Have you looked into LARP gear? There are whole lines of lightweight weapons and armor made from those materials and they're considerably cheaper than metal. Of course, they'll look ridiculous in close-up. But, and I'm no expert on LARPing, it seems like they're made durable enough for folks to slap each other repeatedly with the blades so for mass battle scenes they might work. I suspect they're heavily mass-produced, too, so there might be bulk discounts available from the manufacturer.
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Jeff Kaisla




Location: Qualicum Beach, B.C., Canada
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PostPosted: Mon 02 Jun, 2008 10:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you willing to make some of your own...I've heard of guys using leafsprings from a car...though you may have to heat them up a bit to make them malleable enough to straighten.
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Steven McIntyre




Location: Coquitlam, BC, Canada
Joined: 03 Sep 2006

Posts: 41

PostPosted: Mon 02 Jun, 2008 11:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For the background people you could use 1/2" plywood with metallic spray paint for the blades, cut up a thick dowel for the pommels.
~PER ARDUA~
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Nathan Gilleland





Joined: 25 Apr 2008

Posts: 199

PostPosted: Tue 03 Jun, 2008 8:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm thinking that we might invest in a few of the Hanwei practical swords (the practical knightly, the practical norman, etc.) for the hero swords in the close-ups at least. Probably use a different method for the extras and distance shots.

I looked at some LARP gear and was astonished at how detailed some of them could be. But they seemed to average around $70 per sword, with the high quality (can't really tell the difference between the foam sword and the metal inspiration) averaging $150. That's still out of our budget range.

I like the idea of the leafsprings, but I don't have the tools to heat the metal. Worried

The plywood is an idea that I haven't thought of before! I can get it pretty cheap, and I could get multiple swords out of each sheet. Rather than paint, I could give a thin layer of duct tape to help reinforce it in case of cracking, then put a layer of aluminum foil tape over it to give it that metallic sheen. I'm thinking for the pommel that I could use a bolt with progressively larger washers lined up on either side of the plywood. Idea The only issue that leaves is the issue of a cross-guard. Perhaps PVC pipe notched through lengthwise and slid over the plywood blank?

I'll try to get some pictures drawn up and posted here to help explain the ideas that are running through my head.


Please keep the ideas coming. I'm open to pretty much any input or ideas, and am willing to check out any suppliers, brands, etc. that you think might be a viable option.

Seek Honor before Wealth,
Truth before Honor,
God Before all
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Thomas Watt




Location: Metrowest Boston
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PostPosted: Tue 03 Jun, 2008 9:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

for the plywood...
instead of completely wrapping it in chrome-looking tape, try a strip folded along the edge (give it a shiny edge) and a strip down the center-spine(give it a shiny body)... and see what that looks like on camera. I have a feeling it may look more "real" than a solidly covered one.

Have 11 swords, 2 dirks, half a dozen tomahawks and 2 Jeeps - seem to be a magnet for more of all.
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