One of the most interesting things about Maple Blood Productions is the diverse makeup of the folks involved. “Divine: The Series” is a perfect example of what happens when people with a variety of talents and skills get together to create something.
One of those people with unique talent is Kirk Jaques. In addition to being the co-creator of “Divine: The Series”, Kirk is a trained martial artist, a stunt coordinator, rigger and actor. Kirk is also the creative force behind the elaborate fight sequences in “Divine”.
He took time out on his birthday to answer some questions for us about his work on the most recent episodes of “Divine: The Series”.
AM: Everyone on “Divine: The Series” seems to be taking on multiple roles. You’re a co-creator but you were also coordinating stunts and choreographing action scenes. You must feel a special connection to “Divine”.
KIRK: That’s true. I think in part it’s a reflection of it being such a ‘labor of love’ that everyone is just anxious to roll up their sleeves and tuck into whatever job is needed. But yes, Ivan and I have been involved in the creative side of things from the very beginning. I remember when he first proposed some of the ideas of the story that were the inception of our project. For about a year we would work on story possibilities as we trained together, creating possibilities in between punches and kicks. So yes, as to your original question, I feel a very close connection to Divine, and it sort of feels like the pride one has seeing one’s children take their first steps.
AM: What type of martial arts are you trained in?
KIRK: I’ve been studying martial arts since I was ten years old. (Yes, for those of you that are counting, that is 43 years today.) So in that time I’ve studied several different styles. I was initially graded to my black sash in a style of Gung Fu called Fu Jow Do. It was a combination of Pa Kua, Wing Chun, Tai Chi and Hung Gar. In the years since then, I’ve trained in quite a few different systems (Muay Thai, Arnis and Kali, some grappling arts, a few different weapon systems).
In recent years I’ve spent a lot of time working in the film industry, and so the martial arts training takes on a very different sort of slant. Instead of being only about the functionality of the art, the esthetic side of the art comes more into the forefront. In truth, I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to do this, as it gives me a chance to wrap my head around the arts that I love in a whole new way.
AM: Does your martial arts background help out with stunt work?
KIRK: Definitely! My own personal specialty when it comes to stunts is fight coordinating and martial arts instruction. Quite often that involves teaching stunt people or actors in preparation for their roles. With Divine it gave me the chance to apply some of those arts right from the ground up, as many of the original concepts for the show went hand in hand with action that we were envisioning from day one.
AM: The golden question: How dangerous is stunt work in general? Were you the stunt man for Divine? If yes, any particular stunts that you are able to speak about?
KIRK: And a good question it is. Really, while in stunt work there is, of course, an element of danger, the nature of our work is in fact to minimize ‘danger’ as much as possible. The whole point is to capture action for the show and to keep everyone, including the stunt man, safe. Having said that, though, the stunt men are the ones that take on the action, so they really do get my full respect for their courage and professionalism.
I did work stunts in Divine, but in truth my own work was nothing special. Lol, let’s call it my Hitchcock ‘token’ appearance. I was the gang member that pulls a knife in the fight with BYW (Beautiful Young Woman).
On the other hand, both Dan Payne and Kyra Zagorsky did some wonderful work. They spent long hours learning their own fight scenes and performed as stunt actors for our show. We had both performers on wires to accomplish some of the stunts that you see in ‘Choices’ and they both perform like troupers.
AM: In episode 2 of Divine – Kyra Zagorsky played a ‘creature’ that seemed to be doing a kind of martial art with her huge claws. Were you behind that?
KIRK: I was. Actually, there were several different thoughts behind the ‘style’ that we
developed for BYW. I wanted something that had a different, alien sort of look for her movements. Some of this was drawn from a style known as Pentjak Silat. It’s a beautiful art that originated in Indonesia, involving some wonderful elusive footwork and crisscross stances. I used some knife fighting techniques for the claws and then actually looked to belly dancing for inspiration for Kyra’s movements. There is a movement called an undulation that had the sort of serpentine grace that I was looking for when she avoids some of Divine’s blows.
AM: What’s it like incorporating the physical make up of monsters into a fight scene?
KIRK: It’s both fun and challenging as hell. A lot of times having prosthetics for the characters, or a certain look for creatures (masks, makeup), is very inspirational. It prompts one to think outside the box, but too, it can bring on all sorts of difficulties. Movements that under normal circumstances are easy to perform can become nightmares. I don’t want to release spoilers, but one of our later episodes involves a full mask and at one point the stuntman ran right into a wall due to difficulties in vision.
AM: It’s difficult to tell when a show is put together really well – when the stunts are performed by doubles – do you consider that a sign that the job has been done well?
KIRK: Definitely. At a double’s best, you never know he/she is there.
AM: The fight scenes are really well choreographed – how difficult is that to do?
KIRK: Thank you. Difficult? A bit, but really more just a challenge and a joy to get to play with. I loved every minute of it.
AM: Because of the main character in “Divine” – am I right in assuming there are going to be some kick-ass fight scenes in the future?
KIRK: Yup! We’ve been describing Divine the series as a graphic novel come to life. Lots of kicking ass and taking names to come.
AM: What do you hope for the future of “Divine”?
KIRK: My dearest hope is to get the opportunity to tell the whole story of “Divine”. So far we are just starting down the path, and really, the most fascinating thing about the series is the long term and deeper story that has so far just been alluded to. Some of the fans came up with the saying that we have embraced. ‘Convert the world’!
Divinites (the name given to fans of the series) are, indeed, trying to convert the world. Since the release of episode 01: Divine – social networking sites are buzzing with talk of the series, dedicated blogs and communities have appeared and the first episodes have been viewed over 32 000 times.
The cast and crew of “Divine” are on twitter, Facebook and the show’s dedicated website. Their online presence and interaction with viewers contributes to the sense of ownership that fans already seem to have over this series. Stay tuned folks! A new episode will be released Sunday, September 18, 2011!
Go forth and convert the world, Divinites!
Behind the Scenes video of Kirk Jaques and Dan Payne doing a fight walk-through.
Here is some information for you to help you pass on the “Divine”:
Originall published at affairsmagazine.com