Tessa Alvarado The Queen of Swords Anthony De Longis

Behind The Scenes And on The Set With Anthony De Longis


Gael and Mary doing dips photo at left - To "pump up" Gael's pectorals and arms, Mary took Gael through a series of exercises, including dips, right before being filmed running to the moving wagon.

Churi Makes His Move

Our next action called for Churi to attack the wagon carrying the stolen burial mask of his father. As we gathered to shoot the scene, Brian Grant wanted Churi to look a little more buff so while Ricardo and I safety checked the wagon, my assistant, Mary Gallien took Gael through a series of pushups & dips to "pump him up." I quickly choreographed the wagon fights between Churi, Luis Miguel and the Sarge.

It's pointless to choreograph a fight until you've at least seen your location. I knew the story I wanted to tell, but the final moves couldn't be set until we had our wagon and props and I knew what was physically possible.

The plain for the wagon chase

Photo above - This plain was used over and over for wide action shots, including Churi's attack on the wagon carrying the burial mask. This photo was made from 7 separate shots. This location was ideal - you could look in a 270-degree arc and see no signs of modern life.

The environment and location are another character in any action scene offering both opportunities and difficulties that must be specifically addressed for the scene to be effective. It took only a few minutes to "actionize" our story and show it to Brian Grant for his approval and to camerman Brian Gedge who would capture the story on screen.

the camera car Photo at left - Anthony works with cameraman and 2nd unit director Brian Gedge (wearing steadicam) as they capture the wagon chase action.

First team shot the approaching wagon with two cameras and actor Churi. We cut to the end of the scene where Churi tries to open the trunk containing the mask and then miraculously disappears into thin air while Luis Miguel retrieves his fallen rifle. First Unit left to shoot dialogue scenes in town, taking two of our three cameras with them and Second Unit took over. We shot the sequence with one camera, first from the back of our camera car, then with Brian Gedge, his focus puller and me jammed into the back of the speeding wagon along with the stunt actors and our huge trunk.

The action called for the swift-footed Churi to overtake the wagon on foot and climb into the back of the moving wagon. Luis-Miguel leapt over the seat to attack with his rifle. Churi catches Luis-Mi's attempted hit with the rifle butt and twists it out of his hands to the ground below. Churi pounds Luis in the gut and flings him out of the wagon. Later we repositioned a stationary camera for ground coverage and Luis-Mi took a nice tumble from the moving wagon, landing right in front of our lens.

2nd unit preparing for the scene Photo at right - Anthony (in the camera car) and the rest of the 2nd unit crew prepare to shoot the action.

When the Sgt. tried to shoot Churi, Domingo blocked his arm and smashed the pistol from his hand (unclear in the edit). He pulled him over the seat onto the chest to knock him unconscious before throwing him back into his seat. This was very important since the supposedly unconscious Sgt. had to regrab the reins and invisibly control the moving team. The first time we shot the sequence our stunt actor forgot to grab the reins and the horses took advantage of the opportunity to accelerate to a full run. Runaway horses manufacture their own jet fuel so it's best to keep them under control.

Domingo avoids the pipe Photo at left - Domingo spots the camera car's position after jumping from the moving wagon (left frame). He instinctively and quickly responds, avoiding the pipe extending from the car's frame (right).

Domingo threw the chest off the wagon and leapt after it. Once Domingo reached the ground, we cut back to our actor to continue the scene. It's always a good idea to pay attention to what's going on around you. Anything can happen, even when you've already rehearsed and successfully shot a sequence. Extending from the side of our make-shift camera car was a mounting pipe for different camera positions. On the next take, the driver of the car attempting to follow the wagon over uneven ground, got too close, apparently forgetting that Domingo was jumping off the wagon into his path. Fortunately, Domingo is an experienced stunt man. He landed in balance and managed to dodge the extended pipe that swept across his middle like a lead baseball bat an instant later. It was almost an unscripted scene from "Gladiator."

The scene in the jailhourse between another gullible soldier and the cleverly disguised nun in spectacles starts with the Queen saying to Raul, "you might be surprised at the power of the word, my son." She bops him with her bible and he drops like a stone. The conceit had more impact when she revealed the brick inside the book, but they cut out of the scene before this revelation.

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Copyright 2000-2001 Anthony De Longis. All contents, unless otherwise noted, are the property of Anthony De Longis or used with permission of the copyright owner. All text and photos herein may not be reproduced or distributed without the express written consent of Anthony De Longis, his official representative, or the copyright owner.

The Queen of Swords is trademark of Fireworks Productions, Toronto, Canada, and is a production of Fireworks (Canada), Amy Productions (UK), Morena Films (Spain) and M6 (France), and is distributed in the United States by Paramount. The Official Queen of Swords Website can be found at


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This page last updated March 18, 2001