Nerdmacia recently interviewed Eric Jacobus at FestiGame in Santiago, Chile about his work as a stuntman in God of War. Below is the Google translation of the original interview.

At Festigame Coca Cola 2018, we were able to interview Eric Jacobus briefly, Kratos’ double of action in the new God Of War game. We asked him some questions related to his work and what it means to be double action, and this is what he answered.

Nerdmacia : Being double action must be a very fun job. How was it that you became one?

Eric: Uff is a long story, but very nostalgic for me. It happens that I grew up in the era in which feature films were at their peak (mid 80’s and part of 90’s), and I have fond memories of having seen very good shows on MTV and other interesting movies. I remember that I began to imitate everything they did, the pirouettes and other things. That was on my side, but in Hong Kong I had some friends who made action movies at a low price, so we finally decided to get together and started making independent films in the patio of our house. Over time we had the attention of several people for what we did, and then in the 2000’s Youtube was born, a platform that allows you to upload content for free. So I made my channel, and I started uploading the content that we generated in that place, and that was when the bomb exploded. They began to see us from many parts of the world, not only people, but also important companies. So the work began to viralize and began to have more attention, and the next thing I knew was that I was already working as a full-time action double. So eventually I came to Sony to work on the new God Of War.

Nerdmacia : Could you tell us about your experience of working in a video game?

Eric : It’s very different to work in a videogame than in a movie. I thought I was going to do more things than I actually did, but it turns out that in a video game you only do twice as much as a 3D model, it’s not that you’re really participating. In addition Kratos is played by 2 different people, on the one hand is Christopher Judge, who is the one who lends his voice and movements in general, and then I am double acting. So yes, it’s very different. In this game it only required, to give you an example, of about 8 hours working out every day, which is very exhausting, whereas in a movie it is much easier to divide the times, and it is a lighter process in the long run.

Nerdmacia : Working in videogames and traveling through fantastic worlds should be a truly unique experience. What was the first video game you worked on and how was the experience of seeing yourself in a world that does not exist?

Eric : The first video game I worked for was Mafia III from the 2K company, since fortunately I had a friend who was involved in the production and I lived a few blocks away from him at that time. Then he contacted me mainly because they needed a guy who accepted all kinds of beating haha, that is, stabbing, kicking, shooting, so my first job was capture movement and I remember being days and days and days in that and had to recreate falls and different types of pirouettes that in the movies is very rare to see, and not only for one person, but for several at the same time. In the game we see children falling, old people falling, women falling, then I had to, as I say, receive all kinds of beatings haha. It was very funny because I ended up being the laughingstock of everyone, but finally that is what led me to success. The truth is ironic.

Nerdmacia : How long does it take you to make a scene on average?

Eric: Again, it’s a totally different process in video games and movies. In a movie, a scene of fights takes a lot of minutes to shoot and if it does not go well you have to do it again and so on until someone says “I liked it” and then it’s cut and that’s what’s left. In a game like Mafia III or God Of War there are several cameras and with different angles each, then they are not even minutes. You simply do a pirouette and say “cut” and then do another and “cut” again. And in the end all those divided shots unite them, and the whole sequence appears. In movies it is longer, but by not being divided, you get to enjoy the process much more. But that’s what it’s about being double, of putting all your energy into what you do, whether it’s a lot or a little.

Nerdmacia: In an interview that we did earlier you mentioned that you had a very serious experience with one of your knees. How was that and what health measures are taken to ensure that nothing happens with the production?

Eric: Oh yes, my knee. It happened that right in the recordings of God Of War I fell badly in one of the many pirouettes, and I began to have a very sharp pain in one of my knees. I did the work, but obviously many people in production realized that I was limping, so one of them, Carlos, comes up to me and says “Hey … how’s your knee?”. Of course nobody wanted to stop the production but Carlos told me that, if necessary, we would stop it if my pain continued. The pain continued, but Carlos was very kind to me, almost an angel … he gave me some medicines and advice so that it would not happen again, and in fact he helped me a lot in those scenes so that he did not have to suffer so much. Finally the pain healed thanks to his advice and I have not had a bad experience like that again. But of course, at the time it was very scary.

 

It’s still January but California-based stuntman Eric Jacobus has already had a very busy 2017. From promoting his new short Blindsided and writing the feature film adaptation to working as a motion capture stuntman for numerous video games, Jacobus had momentarily stepped away from the Tekken IRL series. In his Armor King IRL video, Jacobus polled his YouTube subscribers, whose numbers recently surpassed 50,000, asking them which character they’d like him to reenact next.

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The fans spoke, so Jacobus gave them what they wanted.

Jacobus notes on his YouTube page that Devil Jin’s movelist has some real-world origins but is mostly a mishmash of Karate techniques.

Devil Jin’s movelist is built off Jin’s Tekken 3 movelist utilizing Mishima-Style Karate, which is shared by Kazuya, Heihachi, Jinpachi, and a few other characters. According to the Tekken Wikia, DJ’s movelist has elements of Shito-Ryu, though it seems like more a general amalgamation of Karate elements with its front-stance punches and abundance of front kicks, plus all the laser beam attacks. It’s be a stretch to say Devil Jin’s style is applicable in real-world situations, though the fundamentals of his basic attacks definitely have their place, as do most of his throws.

Jacobus added another poll to this Tekken video asking users who they want to see next. Make sure you turn on annotations and vote to tell him which one you want.

I’m making action filmmaking tutorials now for indie action filmmakers, martial artists, and stuntmen and stuntwomen, a series I’m calling “Indie Action Essentials”. The first skill I’m tackling is the Hong Kong spin, or the “HK”. The video includes all the steps plus what padding I recommend when doing the stunt on hard surfaces.

If you have any requests for tutorials you’d like, comment below or at the video’s YouTube page. I’m always listening!

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It’s been a long time coming since the last indie action roundup, and since there’s been so much good stuff released lately just featuring various Stunt People members and associates, it’s time to resume the madness and show you exactly how indie action videos are superior to Hollywood’s latest stream of ooze (though Captain America was a pleasant surprise).

I gotta hand it to Ed Kahana first. His latest film Relic Hunt is an Indiana Jones-type action adventure with a killer fight scene plus some motorcycle stunts. Features Lucas Okuma, Bryan Cartago, Alvin Hsing, and Caitlyn Corson.

Next is Dennis Ruel‘s feature film Unlucky Stars which is nearing completion. Check out Steve Yu, Vlad Rimburg, and Jose Montesinos, along with Shawn Bernal, Manny Manzanares, Sam Hargrave, Roy Chen, and Ken Quitugua.

Last is Clandestine, the latest Thousand Pounds production which successfully raised a big chunk of change on Kickstarter. This fight features Brenden Huor facing off against a crowd that includes Alvin Hsing, Bryan Cartago.

Matt Somerville has released his promo trailer for “Foruson.” The trailer was shot purely for promotional purposes, and most everything that was shot is in the trailer.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=16524223&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0

Foruson trailer from Matt Somerville on Vimeo.

We’re going to try and get hold of the bar fight, since that one was shot with continuity.

Now that I’ve made the case that even in this economy filmmakers are still incredibly well off, I thought I’d go a bit further… no, more like jump off a cliff, and make the case that because it’s so easy to make films, it’s possible to make money (hopefully profit) at the cost of the Hollywood studio system.

A lot of us are done with Hollywood when it comes to action films. Occasionally there’s something ground-breaking like uh, well you know, that one action movie that came out. I can’t think of the name, probably because I’ve been inundated with explosions from 50 angles, badly wired fights, generic kung fu poses by Angelina Jolie, and any other characteristic of the typical blockbuster action film. Most of you in the indie action community look at these and think, “I can do better than that.” And you can. You prove it daily. Maybe you can’t make an explosion as big, or as big a car chase, but you can use raw talent in ways Hollywood can’t. Here’s why:

Hollywood is so big that it’s become efficient only at making profits, and inefficient at making quality action (or insert your favorite complaint here).

Hollywood is like AIG and GM. They read charts and predict future profitability based on statistics and make crummy deals with huge groups of people, resulting in poor action films. The only difference is that Hollywood’s still profitable, and it still earns an audience because most believe there’s not much else out there competing with it.

Here’s an example from Heatseeker (1995) with Gary Daniels and Keith Cooke, two of the most talented screenfighters in American cinema history, going head to head:

Bad. Boring, lots of bad fog, bad editing, bad choreography, bad camerawork, bad everything. The cameraman wants to shoot multiple angles of the fight so he can’t be blamed by the editor for not getting enough coverage (which could destroy a cameraman’s reputation), so he consults with the director, who has Keith and Gary perform the fight repeatedly. While the two go at it all night, the cameraman is 300 feet away getting a master shot (just in case any closeups don’t look good), then he puts on the 105mm telephoto and shoots a few more takes, then comes the 50mm, etc. Gary and Keith have to run through the same, long sequence (hopefully broken up somewhat), over and over so the cameraman can get his shots. Any intricate handwork or subtle moves are impossible in this situation. The cameraman could care less if a move connects or looks bad because he’s just getting his coverage. He’s not there to critique martial arts. They fill the scene with fog because keeping the audience around this whole time would be torture. Shooting “around” the audience isn’t an option because the cameraman insists he needs full freedom to get coverage, thus fog is used. Plus fog was cool in the ’90s.

The choreographer has no say in any of this except where the 2 guys’ hands and feet go. When the cameraman moves to an angle where a certain kick suddenly doesn’t look so good, the choreographer’s hands are tied. Keith Cooke’s amazing high kick goes to hell from this angle, and Keith’s the one who looks like a fool. The choreographer (and Keith) let it go and hope the editor doesn’t use that bit. Then the editor makes coleslaw out of it. Case in point: even if you’re as gifted as Keith Cooke or Gary Daniels, a studio system can still make your fight suck.

Here’s a counter-example. Gary Daniels in Gedo – Fatal Blade (2001):

Gary Daniels six years later, but working with a crew that has full control over not only the choreography, but also the camera placement and length of shots, which in effect gives them control over editing. Limit the editor’s options and he has to cut the action the way you shoot it. The ability to just shoot what the shot requires means they don’t have to repeat the same 60 moves all night. Instead they focus on 1-8 moves per setup, and the energy is obviously better because of it.

The difference between these two clips is that the fight from Heatseeker employs Division of Labor to accomplish the goal. Definition by Adam Smith:

Smith saw the main cause of prosperity as increasing division of labor. Using the famous example of pins, Smith asserted that ten workers could produce 48,000 pins per day if each of eighteen specialized tasks was assigned to particular workers. Average productivity: 4,800 pins per worker per day. But absent the division of labor, a worker would be lucky to produce even one pin per day….

Don’t get me wrong: division of labor has brought about wonderul economic wealth. I love it because it makes laptops cheap and pencils magically appear in abundance almost everywhere for next to nothing. The exception is with filmmaking, especially action filmmaking. The clip from Fatal Blade integrates all the necessary elements without so much division of labor, and instead uses a unified vision to accomplish the goal. The modest action set-piece ends up being far more energetic, and probably cost a lot less to film.

An indie filmmaker can see the problems, and he’s able to use his small crew to make something that easily outshines the best martial arts scene Hollywood has to offer.

Maybe the problem you see with the studio system is with their storytelling, or their cinematography, or lack of a certain racial makeup. Whatever it is, if you’re identifying the problem, odds are a million other people are too. That’s your audience, and they’re waiting for something good to come out. It’s no hard task to convince them to buy your energetic, raw-talent film on DVD for $15 instead of paying $20+ to sit through action drivel that leaves even the most catatonic person feeling somewhat lost after two hours.

They kick ass, take names, and look gorgeous doing it. Steve and Stephen, a pair of renegade vigilantes, are out for justice. But when a new, orgasm inducing drug known as “booche” starts becoming an epidemic, their once quiet streets are quickly transforming into a sex-crazed wasteland. Features stunts by Eric Jacobus and Ray Carbonel of The Stunt People.

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