This very cool “Superhero Fight Club” promo for Arrow and The Flash was just released by the CW this morning. Let me tell you about the GeekDad connection….
The Arrow and Flash shows film in Vancouver British Columbia, but this promo was filmed in January at a studio in Los Angeles while the cast was in town for an awards show (I think it may have been the People’s Choice Awards). They used a local crew instead of flying a lot of people down for it, and one of the positions they needed to fill was “Archery Tech.”
The Archery Tech on a project like this is responsible for making sure that all archery equipment is in good working order and in the right place at the right time, that everyone handles the gear safely according to the established protocols, and making any repairs or adjustments that may become necessary over the course of the day.
As it happens, since 2012, I’ve been writing articles for GeekDad about various portrayals of archery in film and TV, including posts about Brave, Hunger Games, Avengers and Arrow. As a result of the latter, I got to meet Patricia Gonsalves, the Archery Tech on the show (she also operates an archery school, Lykopis Archery, and is working on a documentary about the history of the bow, Taking Aim); we’ve done a couple of panels on “Archery in Pop Culture” at various conventions and worked together on some archery seminars for TV writers and actors. When the CW folks asked about a local archery pro to fill in for her on this promo shoot, she gave them my name.
That’s how I found myself standing on a sound stage at 8:00 AM on a Saturday, arranging bows, arrows and quivers on a long table, grouped by character, with real bows on the left and soft squishy rubber stunt bows on the right. For the next 15 hours, I ran bows back and forth from the table to the actors, helped them get their gear put on and off, and kept an eye on how the equipment was being handled.
Observations: Stephen Amell is a very focused guy; he’s personable and pleasant, but it’s clear he’s there to do the job and keep chit-chat to a minimum. The only exception is children; a few of the crew brought their kids to the set for the day, and every time Amell saw one of them, he immediately went straight over, knelt down to their eye level and engaged them in conversation, making sure they had a memorable visit with Oliver Queen. I thought it was a very cool thing for him to do, and it’s obviously a habit.
John Barrowman and Grant Gustin are both very friendly and approachable with no “star” attitude. Mr. Barrowman made a point of thanking me for my work at the end of the day. I didn’t get a chance to meet or talk to Katie Cassidy or Colton Haynes, but the impression I got was one of shyness and reserve. I was maintaining a “zero fanboy” policy, so I wasn’t going to go over and try to chat them up. I was there to work, and so were they, and our work didn’t overlap at all, so our interaction was limited to a polite nod and smile. I only saw Victor Garber, Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell from the opposite side of the set; once they shot their scenes they were gone. I found myself standing next to Tom Cavanaugh for a few minutes, but the cameras were rolling, so we couldn’t talk, and then a call went up for the hero bow.
The prop people, fight coordinator and the rest of the crew were all friendly and helpful and treated me like one of the tribe from the start.
The Firestorm and Atom costumes had not been publicly revealed yet, but I had to be there for the scene where Firestorm flies in, so I got a close-up view of Robbie Amell as the character. I would have taken some pictures, but the Non-Disclosure Agreement I signed was enough of a discouragement, what with its $5,000,000 penalty for any leaks. They apparently kept the Atom under wraps, since the character had not yet been announced; I heard he was on the other set where they were shooting still photos for print, but I never saw him.
Sunday was entirely taken up with the stunt sequences, and the stunt guys were amazing. One of them, a guy named Jackson, was doubling for the Dark Archer; he’s the one doing forward flips from a standing start while wearing an absurdly heavy costume. He is an experienced archer, his parents were competitive shooters, so he didn’t need anything from me except to hand the bow over and take it when he was done. The stuntman for Ollie, an Australian whose name escapes me at the moment, didn’t have any archery experience, but he took to it immediately; I made one little adjustment to his form so that he would match what Mr. Amell did, and he did it perfectly every time. These guys are fantastic. Roy’s double was only required to carry his bow in a couple of shots; all his action scenes involved his fighting sticks. Somehow his stunt bow sustained a bit of damage anyway, but I was able to reinforce with gaffer’s tape and coffee stirrers (no joke) at least well enough to finish the day.
The two very long days (about 15 hours each for me, longer for most of the crew) were a lot of fun, and the final result is even cooler than I thought it would be. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I’m very grateful that my work for GeekDad has led to so many cool opportunities like this one.