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Crew Q&A: Stunt Coordinator Gary Connery

Editor’s Note: We culled your questions from Facebook and Twitter for this week’s Q&A with a Killing Eve crew member. This week, it’s stunt coordinator, Gary Connery.

1. @Villanelle27 via Twitter: How did you film the part where Villanelle got the needle and stabbed Julian in the neck? It looked really realistic
Gary Connery: We did this scene for real, no one really liked Julian anyway! OK, not really. This is a combination of stunt fighting/choreography and visual and special effects. We had a soft needle that could be used for certain shots, being careful not to show that it was made of rubber and therefore a little bendy. We had a short version with green tape over the end so that Visual Effects could then extend the needle in post-production. Special Effects had a blood rig so that once Julian’s hand was over his throat, blood could be pumped out through his fingers. Some blood was also put on in post-production.

2. @sckberry via Twitter: How many takes did it take to get the scene right?
GC: I honestly do not remember the number of takes for this scene; there were many different angles to shoot from to give the editing team the best options to work with. There were also many costume replacements due to the blood covering costumes with each take.

3. @MekareMadness via Twitter: How detailed was the scene in the script and compared to that how much you add with your plans?
GC: Very rarely is a fight described in the script; it more often than not says something along the lines of, “And then they fight,” with perhaps some stage direction of how the fight should end — in this instance with the knitting needles. It is then up to the stunt team to choreograph the action and work alongside the director to make sure he is happy with the action. Then, it’s about perfecting the action ready to shoot.

4.@nocnapidzama via Twitter: did something unexpected happen during this scene?
GC: The only thing that happened during this scene that I remember was when the stunt doubles were in the hallway fighting, the stuntwoman, Jess, threw herself at the cupboard under the stairs area and shattered the cupboard door. Construction/carpentry had to come in and do a quick but good repair job for us to continue. Everyone was shocked at the force of the hit. Jess was fine, however.

5. @evesnelle via Twitter: how do you manage stunt choices and what fits the scene and its context best? plus how do you give it authenticity? 
GC: It is really for the director and producer to decide what best fits the scene and context. I as a stunt coordinator am very much about making something believable and try to bring as much realism into it as possible, trying to guide the director/producer as to what would it really happen in the situations, from a body movement/capability/mechanics perspective.

6. @IamKayleeJ via Twitter: How do you decide what stunts are appropriate for Jodie to do and when to bring in a stunt double?
GC: First and foremost it’s about physical capability and comfort levels of the actors as to whether they are involved in performing stunts or to what level they are involved. Rehearsal time is also key to this, and with a show where the actress/actor is constantly busy on set, rehearsal time can be limited. It is always a good idea to have a stunt double on set for key action sequences

7. Phuong C. via Facebook: Do the actors have safe words or some kind of signal if sth goes wrong
GC: We will always have signals where appropriate or to shout the words “Stop stop stop” should someone feel uncomfortable or in trouble. Also, I will always be on set and have a very good idea of what has been choreographed, and if this is not happening, I also can therefore call “Stop stop stop.”

8. Jennifer K. via Facebook: First off, amazing episode. Second, there has to be a lot of rehearsal that goes into these fight scenes. We’d love to know a little more about what goes into producing the final product.
GC: This fight scene in particular was rehearsed/choreographed over a period of a day with stunt doubles. It is then for the stunt team to show the actors and determine which elements they can perform. Then, it must be filmed to disguise that it is not always the actors, but that a lot of it is covered by doubles. Camera angles play a big part in something like this.

10. Wendy N. via Facebook: Are stunt scenes counted like choreography? Or some other code? Or is it just called blocking? 😊
GC: Different people call what we do different things. Ultimately we are choreographing action, blocking it through with the actors, and then performing at speed with the stunt team, bringing in the actors as and when safe to do so.

Hope this answers everyone’s questions!


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