- BC Games
Combat instructor fights her way from Middle-earth to Bowen Island
After spending 10 years in New Zealand working on the Lord of the Rings Trilogy as a motion capture director and fight choreographer, Carrie Thiel decided to trade the fictional setting of Middle-earth for a more contemporary and realistic world of Bowen Island.
A quest she embraced when her husband accepted a job with Pixar in Vancouver.
"We looked at the map and couldn't help but notice this little island west of the city, seemingly not too far away. 'Do you think people commute from there?' We were drawn to Bowen from the beginning, and were willing to find out! So glad we did,” Thiel says.
Being hired by director Peter Jackson’s company to design the movement and fighting styles for both human and non-human characters within the Lord of the Rings series proved to be extremely rewarding.
“Though there are many memorable experiences from my years in Middle-earth, including the (motion) capture of horses, ring wraiths, the army of the dead, and every other orc, uruk, elf and human, one stands out as my proudest,” Thiel recalls.
“After working with Orlando Bloom on "Elvin" movement for the character Legolas, I am pleased to say that when I watch the fellowship on their journey, way up on the mountain, small specs on the big screen, I can tell which one is the Elf. A costume will only serve an actor or stunt performer so far. This is why I love working on movement and character with actors, stuntmen and animators alike.”
Certified as a professional fight director and instructor, Thiel's qualifications also include, actor combatant certification with the Society of American Fight Directors, and dramatic combat training with the British Academy and with the United Stuntmen’s Association. Combined with being a professional actor and singer Thiel has worked on such films as Alexander, Kingdom of Heaven and Superman Returns.
Combining fight patterns with dramatic movements has led Thiel to design a theatrical/staged combat course for children ages eight through to 17.
“Everywhere I look I see kids picking up sticks and 'play fighting.' So if kids can't resist doing this, why fight it?" Thiel asks.
Whether she’s taking on a persona of a mythical humanoid or an elven lord, creating a controlled environment for “play fighting” teaches children how to have fun safely while they play these types of games.
“By teaching the dance, as opposed to the fight, and breaking down the illusions they see on screen, we can empower, as well as encourage kids to be creative.
Children can then channel and create their own 'inner hero' armed with the knowledge and practice of fundamental movement patterns," Thiel says.
Influenced by gymnastics, pilates, martial arts, dance and theatre, the combat instructor's awareness of safety, proper body mechanics and — most importantly —fun is at the heart of all her courses. To learn more about Thiel’s adventures with film, visit her website at www.carriethiel.com. It's also not too late to sign up for the theatrical combat courses. Go to http://www.bowencommunityrecreation.com and register.