I’ve been practising Historical European Martial Arts for over two and a half years and I noticed that whenever I explain to other people what I do, there are often a few misconceptions about it. In an effort to clear some of those misconceptions and introduce this wonderful activity to a wider audience, I’ve decided to make a feature-length documentary about it.
What is this about?
Historical European Martial Arts, or HEMA as we call it, has a really broad spectrum, and while I’m aiming to touch most aspects of it, the focus of the documentary will be on the most popular subset of HEMA, which is historical fencing.
The documentary will present how people go from finding fencing manuals written several centuries ago to understanding the techniques described in them, training to master them and applying them in friendly or competitive fights. It will also look into how people are designing weapons and protective equipment to make the practice of these martial arts as authentic and safe as possible. It will also look into the strong community that it has, and how those sword-wielding historians share and test their knowledge.
It is targeted at people who don’t know anything about HEMA, giving them a look into the arts and their practitioners. I’ve already interviewed some of the most notable figures of the British HEMA scene:
- Matt Easton from Schola Gladiatoria
- Fran and Piermarco Terminiello from the School of The Sword
- Martin Austwick and Lucy Easton from the English Martial Arts Academy
- Keith Farrell from the Academy of Historical Arts
- Bladesmith Marco Danelli
I’ve also managed to interview Scott Brown from Ochs America and Dr Fabrice Cognot from the French group De Taille et d’Estoc. I’d like to paint a more global picture of the arts, and interview more people from America and the rest of Europe (others names I’d like to meet in no particular order: Jake Norwood, Jessica Finley, Axel Pettersson, Anders Linnard, Samantha Swords, Jeff Tsay, Meg and Ben Floyd, Michael Chidester…)
Why do you need money?
Here’s how my Kickstarter budget is broken down:
Note that what I’m looking for with this campaign is the funds just to shoot all the content I need, and assumes I do pretty much everything myself. It doesn’t include things such as image and music licensing, for instance.
Travel and accommodation
My current plans include going to Iron Gate Exhibition (a North American HEMA gathering) and Swordfish (a Swedish event which is basically the world cup of HEMA), meeting bladesmiths such as Peter Regenyei and manufacturers of protective gear such as Mblades, SPES and PBT Historical Fencing.
This would take me to at least 5 different countries, and I need to build funds to cover the travel and accommodation costs, which is where the bulk of the Kickstarter money will go. I’m filming on my own most of the time, which greatly reduces the costs, but for various reasons (mostly related to filming equipment transport and insurance), I can’t cut corners on accommodation by couch surfing or sleeping on site, for instance.
It’s not always practical to interview people in the middle of an event where they might be fairly busy, so I sometimes need to hire a place where I can conduct interviews or shoot specific sequences, such as demonstrations of techniques. Also, some of the places where the original manuscripts are being kept charge for the authorisation to film in their premises.
While I’ve got most of the equipment I need to make this documentary, I’ve reserved a part of the budget for extra equipment that I might need to buy or hire in order to give this documentary a decent production value.
When and where is it going to be released?
At the moment, I’m aiming for a late August 2015 release on video streaming websites such as Youtube and Vimeo as well as (potentially) services such as Netflix (as the aim is to showcase HEMA to the widest audience).
Backers selecting the corresponding reward levels will be given access to a premium quality Full HD version of the documentary, either in digital (DRM-Free) or physical form (DVD or Blu-Ray).
Are there any stretch goals?
Yes! More money means I can travel to more places and meet more people, allowing me to cover other aspects of HEMA. It also means making the documentary available to more people. The stretch goals are as follows:
- £6,000: Documentary available in French, Spanish and German
- £6,500: Documentary available in Italian and Polish
- £7,500: Extended segment on unarmed HEMA, such as Ringen and classical pugilism.
- £8,000: Segment on Harnischfechten, the art of armoured fencing.
- £10,500: Segment on Rossfechten, the art of historical mounted combat.
Risks and challenges
This is my first time making a feature-length project, so there is the risk that the writing of the documentary won’t be award-winning, but I’ve got a few friends who are professionals in the film industry who can give me advice on such matters.
There is also the possibility that I don’t get to meet all the people I want to meet for whatever reasons, meaning that I may not be able to get all the perspectives represented in the documentary. This can be solved by rescheduling meeting, settling for Skype conversations if traveling is not an option.
The HEMA community is a passionate one, and passionate people are demanding. Portraying the arts in a way the community will be happy with is one of the main challenges, but as I’m a part of it and personally know some of the big names, I’m confident that I will draw a fair picture.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)