Film and television actors gathered in Reading over the weekend for a one of a kind workshop teaching stunts and and how to fight on screen. Held at Open Call Martial Arts Studio, actors traveled from as far away as Connecticut to practice their skills falling, rolling, and proper use of weapons.
The day long class was hosted by local SAG-AFTRA actor and Open Call Martial Arts owner, Bill Pugh. Pugh is a man of many talents and skills. He has served in the United States Marine Corps and has over 20 years’ experience in the industry working on TV shows and movies like Sex and the City, Jersey Girl, and most recently, M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass.
“Most people that are actors think they can fight, most Martial Artists think because they know karate they can stage a fight. None of this is true, and that’s what I’m hear to teach” said Pugh.
In the workshop Pugh teaches his students everything from body reactions to physical expression. But it’s not just about acting, Pugh keeps safety at the top of his mind. Learning how to fall, using props in fight scenes, all require proper training to master.
“It’s a huge eye opener because fight scenes require so much more practice” said actress Bryn Berg during one of the breaks. “Every step by step move has to be coordinated so everyone’s safety is taken into consideration.”
In addition to learning to kick and fall, Pugh also provided lessons on weapons training and safety. “I’ve seen it on set where people will drop a gun because they are uncomfortable with it” said Pugh. “You need to know how to handle a weapon if the scene calls for it.”
Stressing weapons safety, Pugh made it a point talk to the class about how weapons are treated on set. “Most of the time the weapons master will check the gun right in front of you. If they don’t, ask them to check it. That’s part of your job to make sure.”
“My agent in New York asked me a few month back if I had any weapons training. I didn’t, so I wanted to take this class to further my career” said actress Maggie Shirk. “Learning how to hold and walk with a gun really helped today. Everything in New York is procedural dramas, cop, detective, that’s what I want to get into.”
Finishing the day, Pugh had all of the actors form into groups to perform short skits to demonstrate the skill they learned. Groups presented skits involving situations involving illegal gambling to armed robbery.