One of the fun things about being a part time viking is that it can sometimes lead to invitations to do things you wouldn’t normally get the chance to experience.

Last week exactly that happened. We were invited to join up with the folks from Wuffa to be part of a film being shot here in East Anglia. They needed people who could dress up as vikings and wave a sword safely for choreographed fight scenes, and people who could be turned into monsters for the vikings to fight against. How could we say no to something that sounded so much fun?

I hadn’t realised how much hard work goes in to making a film until we were all on set. It wasn’t helped by the current restrictions due to the covid-19 virus, everyone had to sign disclaimers to confirm they hadn’t been exposed and had no symptoms before being issued with masks and hand sanitiser. Then we were given coloured wristbands which assigned us to a ‘bubble’ to minimise chances of spreading the virus as we worked together. we stayed outdoors as much as possible but it was obvious that the health and safety precautions were making everything much more complicated.

The first day was make up and rehersals, the monster makeup took at least an hour as it involved prosthetics. It was quite amusing when the makeup supervisor was telling the female monsters not to use any makeup or skin creams on the days we’d be filming – not one of the viking women was wearing so much as a dot of makeup, unlike all the film students who had to be sent off to wash their faces. They took lots of photos to make sure the makeup would be indentical night after night for continuity.

The rehersals were very much like the safety tests we do before any newcomers can join in a fight, followed by some short routines that we could run through time after time as the filming progressed. Slice, slice, stab, claw. We all learned the same routines but started at different points so it would look more natural and less obviously choreographed. A uesful technique that we may well borrow for training and to draw out displays.

It was a lot harder on the monsters who had to do just as much fighting as the warriors but while wearing heavy makeup, trailing robes that doubled as trip hazards (like the dementors in Harry Potter), 3 foot long claws over the hands instead of swords and crouched down scuttling like crabs. There were lots of objecting knees, aching backs and very tired people. Not surprising since the filming went on right through the night until 6am! There was a professional stunt crew for the close up shots and for the hard core action like being thrown around or trampled by horses, they were very impressive.

It was filmed in tiny stages where we’d repeat the same sequence over and over again while they recorded from different angles or close up on a small part of the action, so we’d crawl through the woods 10 times, then do the same fight 10 times, then the same running away etc etc. I don’t really have a clear picture of what the end result will be. Photography wasn’t allowed on set so you’ll just have to imagine how it looked, i’m sure it was very creepy with all the smoke and pyrotechnics going off around us as the freakish monsters crawled through the dark dark wood to ambush the brave warriors and claw them to pieces

Thanks to Wuffa for letting us join them for a fun few days.

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