Directing a Successful Action Sequence for your Film or Series

Hosted by Michael Nankin

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Michael Nankin

Webinar hosted by: Michael Nankin

Humanitas Prize Winning Director (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, HELL ON WHEELS)

Michael Nankin has been a working writer, director, producer, and showrunner for 40 years and has directed action-packed episodes of popular television shows like the Peabody award-winning BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, TAKEN, VAN HELSING, HELL ON WHEELS, CSI, and more. Michael started as a writer/director at Walt Disney Studios at age 22 and his first independent film, THE GATE, was the highest-grossing Canadian-produced film ever at the time of its release. His first series, LIFE GOES ON, was the first series that presented a continuing character with Down Syndrome as well as the first HIV-positive continuing character. Michael’s other directing credits include Showtime’s THE GOOD LORD BIRD, ALPHAS, TURN, DEFIANCE, and the upcoming Stephen King horror series CHAPELWAITE starring Adrien Brody. A Humanitas Prize and Leo Award winner, Michael is an incredibly successful and sought-after director, in part due to his ability to inject action and energy into the projects he takes on. Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

Action sequences are no longer solely confined to big budget features. Movies and series of every size demand them. And while they can boost the status and popularity of a project, they are also complex and difficult to shoot and require special treatment and knowledge from the director. They are, in some way, mini silent movies, relying on image rather than dialogue to tell your story. To be a successful director today, whether you’re focused on film, television, or anything else, it’s important to have the necessary tools so you can tackle these demanding sequences

Because every filmmaker, producer and crew members needs to know how action sequences are created, prepared and executed, Stage 32 brought in a bona fide expert to show you how it's done. 

Michael Nankin has been a working writer, director, producer, and showrunner for 40 years and has directed action-packed episodes of popular television shows like the Peabody award-winning BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, TAKEN, VAN HELSING, HELL ON WHEELS, CSI, and more. Michael started as a writer/director at Walt Disney Studios at age 22 and his first independent film, THE GATE, was the highest-grossing Canadian-produced film ever at the time of its release. His first series, LIFE GOES ON, was the first series that presented a continuing character with Down Syndrome as well as the first HIV-positive continuing character. Michael’s other directing credits include Showtime’s THE GOOD LORD BIRD, ALPHAS, TURN, DEFIANCE, and the upcoming Stephen King horror series CHAPELWAITE starring Adrien Brody. A Humanitas Prize and Leo Award winner, Michael is an incredibly successful and sought-after director, in part due to his ability to inject action and energy into the projects he takes on.

Exclusively for Stage 32, Michael will lay out how exactly to lay out a fantastic action sequence for your own project. He’ll do this by first explaining how to find the story and character development within the scene and use this as a guide to forming your plan. He’ll then go in-depth on how exactly to prepare for your action scene before you even go on set, including collaborating with the other departments, storyboarding and shotlisting, and the critical wounds and kills meeting. Michael will then teach you how to actually direct the scene on set, detailing camerawork, working with the stunt team, and shooting for visual effects and more.

Along the way, we will examine two specific action sequences from projects directed by Michael Nankin – one from his film RED FACTION: ORIGINS and another from an episode of the celebrated AMC series HELL ON WHEELS. Michael will walk through the choices he made in putting these scenes together.

What You'll Learn

  • Directing an Action Scene: It’s All About Storytelling
    • How you can reveal story through action
    • Revealing the environment and world building
    • The least interesting part of any fight scene
    • Character development through action
      • Introducing characters
      • What’s at stake for each character?
      • Backstory
      • Character’s goals
      • Obstacles
      • Tactics
      • Weakness
    • When to reveal information to the audience
    • Case Study: RED FACTION
  • Preparing for the Shoot
    • Taking responsibility as director
    • Collaboration with writers/producers
    • Coordinating departments
    • Wounds and kills meeting
    • Initiating your battle plan
    • Storyboarding and shotlisting
    • Planning for visual effects
  • Shooting an Action Scene on Set
    • Safety First – working with the stunt coordinator and 1st AD
    • The art of camerawork in an action sequence
    • Parallel action and cutting
    • Reinventing the western shootout
      • Vertical rather than horizontal
      • Building the gun
    • Shooting for visual effects
    • Case Study: “The Railroad Job” from HELL ON WHEELS
  • Q&A with Michael

About Your Instructor

Michael Nankin has been a working writer, director, producer, and showrunner for 40 years and has directed action-packed episodes of popular television shows like the Peabody award-winning BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, TAKEN, VAN HELSING, HELL ON WHEELS, CSI, and more. Michael started as a writer/director at Walt Disney Studios at age 22 and his first independent film, THE GATE, was the highest-grossing Canadian-produced film ever at the time of its release. His first series, LIFE GOES ON, was the first series that presented a continuing character with Down Syndrome as well as the first HIV-positive continuing character. Michael’s other directing credits include Showtime’s THE GOOD LORD BIRD, ALPHAS, TURN, DEFIANCE, and the upcoming Stephen King horror series CHAPELWAITE starring Adrien Brody. A Humanitas Prize and Leo Award winner, Michael is an incredibly successful and sought-after director, in part due to his ability to inject action and energy into the projects he takes on.

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Reviews Average Rating: 5 out of 5

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