ByRebecca Raymer, writer at Creators.co
I am a writer and director. #WomenInFilm #WomenDirect
Rebecca Raymer

When Matthew Clanton saw a training video by Mick Gould, he got the idea for his instructional program, Act Tactical for Film. As a former police officer with years of martial arts training, Clanton was familiar with the proper way to handle weapons, and was frustrated by seeing it repeatedly misrepresented on screen. To him, it is not only a matter of technical accuracy, but a matter of safety to actors, crew, and the public.

The first point made in Clanton's Level I class is that safety is ALWAYS a priority, even when dealing with prop firearms, such as those often used to make films and television shows. Not only does it reduce the risk of someone being injured in a tragic accident (such as the truly tragic on-set death of Bruce Lee's son, Brandon), the reverence of these weapons translates onto film. If you want to come across as handling an authentic pistol, treat the prop pistol like it's real, even off camera.

Bruce & Brandon Lee, en.wikipedia.org
Bruce & Brandon Lee, en.wikipedia.org

The most impressive aspect of Act Tactical is the combined focus on real-life skill and the best way to convey that skill on film. The goal of filmmakers is to recreate instances of interaction that resonate strongly with the human audience. In other words, fake something so seamlessly that it evokes a human reaction equal to or greater than one to an original, unscripted, "real" situation.

Regardless of genre, stimulating genuine human emotion is crucial to successful filmmaking. Spontaneous and profound laughter, shock, sadness, anger, and joy translate into THE bottom line: people pay money to feel real emotions about anything other than their own reality. Nothing stimulates a wider range of emotion more intensely and succinctly than violent human interaction.

There is a balance of psychology and physiology behind physical confrontation, and if you are attempting to use that to provoke genuine human reaction through film, directors and actors REALLY need to know what they are doing in regard to both. There are aspects of psychological and physiological responses that are never directly addressed on film, yet are inherent in the appearance of sincerity.

Sincere Captain Kirk. oneguyrambling.com
Sincere Captain Kirk. oneguyrambling.com

WHY does someone trained in combat move their body one way, while a civilian moves their body another way? WHY is someone who has been abused react with different facial expressions and body positioning than someone who has not? WHY does someone collapse forward when struck in one place on the body, but backward when struck in another?

These are all questions that are being subconsciously processed in the minds of an audience, and if any of those questions goes unanswered, a scene will not resonate as strongly. As a result, your movie or commercial or TV show or play will suck, and no amount of clever writing or trend appeal or gimmicks can overcome that. Whether you are trying to make people understand a certain situation, or to compel them buy a product, you have failed if your production sucks.

In the young and booming film industry of Atlanta, Matthew Clanton saw a need for a training program that encompassed the myriad dynamics involved in successful tactical acting. Act Tactical for Film, at this time, has three levels of training classes available. I have only personally experienced Level I, and the mental and physical intensity involved in participating in this type of training shocked me.

Students training at Act Tactical.
Students training at Act Tactical.

While I wouldn't describe Level I at Act Tactical as a "boot camp," I certainly came away with a greater appreciation for the physical and mental dedication of good actors. I also was incredibly impressed with how much I learned in the two-day Level I class. While I am now certainly more knowledgable about kicking your ass in real life, I can't make any promises about my actual ability to successfully accomplish that. However, after taking the Act Tactical Level I class, I am confident I can appear to kick your ass on film.

Making it appear that way on film.
Making it appear that way on film.

In addition to his real-life experience, Clanton has acted in and consulted on a number of projects across a variety of media. He has teamed up with other former police officers/SWAT operators Bryan Clanton and Jeff Manley, experienced martial arts coach Jason Croom and former US Army Special Forces Sergeant (Green Beret) Cody Stockton to make Act Tactical for Film an effective and professional training program for actors. Assistant instructors Tom Trinh and Chad Fenimore bring even more experience and talent to to the class.

Anyone interested in learning more about law enforcement, martial arts, military maneuvers, and all kinds of weapons will find a wealth of physical and mental knowledge with Act Tactical for Film. Information about the program and training offered can be found on Act Tactical's website. Classes are available in various locations in addition to Atlanta, including New Orleans and Washington D.C.

Add to your acting resume, widen your life-skills base, or just get a behind-the-scenes experience at Act Tactical for Film. Even if you never star in a movie or kick someone's ass in reality, you can make it appear as if you do using your phone's video app, and then uploading it to YouTube. Win-win.

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