It is always an unpredictable experience when you visit the set of a film being shot. You may strike visual gold and watch a complicated action sequence being rehearsed and then filmed or you may end up seeing a rather relaxing dialogue sequence shot from a variety of angles. Armed with these realistic expectations, it is always an educational experience observing and learning just how a film is created and what are the elements that are needed. This columnist was invited to observe the action film, Bullets, Blades and Blood being filmed in a typical warehouse office located in an industrial cul-de-sac in a city known as Rancho Cordova which is a suburb of Sacramento, California.
Here is the official tagline for the movie-“Marcus Blades is a mercenary for hire. His mission is to kidnap a rising R&B singer, but is targeted for death instead. Marcus seeks revenge against those who plot his demise…and he wants payment for the job he’s done!” The production has been filming at several different locations all over Northern California including Sacramento, Fairfield and Pittsburg mainly on weekends because most of the cast and crew are usually involved in other projects during the week. On the day when this reporter was present, it was obvious that I would be treated to a pivotal action scene as a number of prop pistols, shotguns and machine guns were littered about.
I was greeted by actor and real estate maven, Jim Meyer whom I had previously met on the set of his prior film project, Predatory Lender. Meyer portrays a character named Gunn who crosses paths with Marcus Blades as portrayed by lead actor, Robert Parham. Although it appears that Meyer might be eventually typecast as that of the villain, Jim seems to really be the comic relief as he is quick to weave humorous comments out of several situations as they arise. I was also greeted by the production assistant, Jamillah Jmilz Kirk who as the day progressed displayed how valuable she truly is with her efficient methods of keeping the crew moving at a brisk pace throughout the time that was allocated to the day’s filming.
On that particular day of filming the actors that were present for the action scene about to unfold were Robert Parham, Chyna McCoy, Kenya Hunter Placido, Arlene Barshinger, Jim Meyer and Tim Lajcik. The day’s filming would include a number of fight sequences involving Parham, Lajcik, Placido and Barshinger. In any given film a fight scene can make a break the reality of said movie when it is finally viewed by movie-goers. These scenes are carefully rehearsed and choreographed a number of times on and off the set. Bullets, Blades and Blood features a number of mixed martial artists and martial artists also. Leading the impressive list of martial artists in the film is lead actor and writer, Robert Parham. Parham’s scenes to be filmed included two major fight sequences with famed mixed martial artist turned actor, Tim Lajcik and also up and coming actress, Arlene Barshinger. The challenge that actors are confronted with in being filmed in such a scene is that of timing and how not to actually hit each other at the same time appearing to actually connect. The actors extensively train to learn how to throw a blow amazingly close to the other party and how the other party should react accordingly. The sequences need to be properly “blocked”-that is the cinematographer, Marcos Cardoza and director, Warren Foster make decisions on the best possible angles that would help sell the scene to the audience. It is a complicated process that involves physical prowess and acting abilities on the part of the actors, storyboards(artist preproduction artwork of a scene), proper knowledge of lighting and finally a sense of editing finesse. It is especially impressive when actress, Arlene Barshinger who has not received any formal martial arts training is filmed several different times from several different angles and successfully convinces this columnist that she is a lethal assassin who can dispatch an opponent such as Robert Parham who is a former five time world kickboxing champion!
The film’s title points to a movie that is unabashedly heavily laden with gun play. Several makes and models were used during filming another sequence involving actress and singer, Kenya Hunter Placido, Jim Meyer and Robert Parham. It is a pivotal sequence that if this columnist details too extensively, the element of surprise will be nullified to the moviegoers that will see this film upon its release. The scene called for a shootout between rivals in a warehouse setting. Actors were instructed how to realistically fire a variety of weapons that included a standard shotgun and the powerful Desert Eagle pistol. Sound effects and gun muzzle flashes will be added in post production, so once again it is imperative that actors react accordingly to help sell the scenes. Several actors in the past have failed to convince this reporter that they were holding an actual sidearm in because they didn’t create the illusion of weight when they were handling the weapon. They also forget to take into account the kickback when guns are fired. Director, Warren Foster was pivotal in making sure actors, Robert Parham, Jim Meyer, Tim Lajcik and Arlene Barshinger were well versed in creating the illusion of weight and proper motion reactions when firing.
Make-up is also an integral part of displaying the results of gun-play and fist fights. The make-up on the film is being created by talented artist and actress, Bunny Carley. I had originally met Bunny on the set of Predatory Lender where she also had a speaking role in that particular film. Carley’s talents as a glamour and special make-up artist cannot be overstated and she obviously possesses a eye for the effects bullets and bones have upon the human body. As the day’s filming progessed, production assistant, Jamillah Jmilz Kirk would request, “make-up” and Bunny quickly ran into the area applying on the spot touch up to the actors as needed.
The film is also benefiting from the action choreography of the celebrated stuntman, director and actor, Art Camacho. Camacho’s involvement highlights the degree of importance the filmmaker’s are placing upon making the action scenes as realistic and exciting as possible. Camacho’s years of experience and background as a serious practitioner of martial arts is plainly on display in the rough cuts that the filmmakers have released to further drum up interest for the movie.
As the movie project known as Bullets, Blades and Blood continues to be filmed in and around Northern California, this reporter will continue to bring updates on the progress of the film. Future articles will include interviews with stars, Robert Parham and Chyna McCoy. The talented crew of filmmakers and actors of Bullets, Blades and Blood continue to reinforce the notion that perseverance, enthusiasm and love of craft will truly pay off and this columnist cannot wait to see the final results!