Sometimes I write about pirates, other days I play a pirate

J.M. Aucoin . Misc., Movies/TV, News 1458 No Comments

JM Aucoin pirate

Just being a pirate… or as I like to call it — Saturday.

I met Rich Hartsorn at the same website I met Magnolia Belle. He also happened to live near my parent’s place in Upstate New York, so we got a chance to meet up and hang out during my visits — usually around Thanksgiving. Most of those hang outs were spent writing collaborative naval poems. I don’t have a copy of any of them, sadly. Maybe Rich does. I’ll have to check. But the point is we shared a passion for pirates and writing.

HammonassetBeachCouple months back Rich contacts me saying he’s putting together a small, independent pirate movie surrounding the fantastic lives of Anne Bonny, Mary Reed and Calico Jack. Of course I accepted. Didn’t need to know about the character he had in mind for me or see the script. It was something I wanted to do from the get-go.

I ended up being cast as Left Eye Barrigan, a gruff and dirty pirate looking to shake things up between Calico, Reed and Bonny. I’m pretty sure I’ve only been cast as a villain — even when I’ve performed with Pastimes Entertainment — but it’s always fun. Playing for Team Evil is a blast. Pretty sure anyone who has played a villain character can atest to this, and Left-Eye was definitely a fun one. I put on some scarring make up near my (duh) left eye. Apparently it was pretty believable since some people we ran into asked if it was real. Do you want to know how I got these scars?

JM Aucoin

Before being a pirate…

Anyways, yesterday was when we shot my and Kate’s scenes. So we got up way too early for a Saturday morning and headed down for Hammonasset Beach in Connecticut. The beach and state park is huge, but a great backdrop for outdoor scenes. The ocean. The trees and fields. The bogs. Jetis. Large boulders. Great place to shoot a bunch of scenes real fast. It was a little rainy when we got down there but the sun came out soon enough and instead of being eaten by bugs and being wet we were baking. But it was worth it.

I had to do one fight in the movie and got to choreograph it. Kate and I collaborated on it. I’ve done plenty of fights for live theater and even some smaller, indie movies, but never choreographed my own fight. It’s funny. I do it all the time in my head when I’m writing but not for state combat. Kate wasn’t my fight partner, though. My partner was a woman named Jen who played Mary Reed. She had kendo and dance experience but not choreographed fighting. And she lived in NY and me with no car making rehearsal beforehand not doable. So Kate and I made an instructional video for her to watch. Didn’t expect her to memorize the fight, but it was good to give her a feel for what the fight was going to look like.

...and as a pirate. This is where we shot the Reed-Barrigan fight

…and as a pirate. This is where we shot the Reed-Barrigan fight

While the rest of the cast shot scenes in the morning, Kate, Jen and I worked on our fight. Gave her a quick, 2-minute crash course on the SAFD fight system and then it was off to go over the fight. Then, during the heat of the day, we did our fight. We found this awesome section of the beach. From the distance we could see a ton of large boulders scattered in an area. Little did we know when we got there that the space filled between the large boulders was filled with all smaller rocks (great for ankle rolling) and seashells. Yikes. Not exactly great for fighting. I threw most of the dangerous rocks out of the way so we could fight. But it was still fighting on loose sand and rocks. And then Kate notices that the tide is coming in.


The Reed-Barrigan fight

The Reed-Barrigan fight

So we start off fighting on dry sand but by the end of the shoot we’re fighting in water over our ankles. It wasn’t the best situation for an experienced fighter to fight in, let alone a newbie like Jen. But she was a trooper and she did great. Doing a fight at film speed is hard. Throw on top of that that it was her first choreographed fight and we did it in the baking sun, on loose sand and rocks and with the tiding lapping over our boots and you have to think we were nuts. We probably were, but it was worth it. The scenery mixed with the beautiful backdrop of rocks and the ocean is going to make for an amazing looking fight. It’s rough. It’s gritty. It’s exciting.

Can’t wait to see it put together.

Not to spoil things too much, but I also got my Basil Rathbone death moment at the end of it. I was stoked. It wasn’t planned that way but there were rocks everywhere, soo…. I can scratch that off my bucket list.

And man, it felt good to have the ocean rush over you after doing take after take after take of fighting in the summer sun. My boots are still damp.  All worth it.

Jen and I got a much needed long break after that fight and hung by the shady and breezy picnic tables. Lots of beach goers came up to us to ask why we were dressed like pirates (Why? How do you dress for the beach?). Parents and their kids came up for fun interactions:

Hard to see with this crappy picture, but the scar is there under the eye.

Hard to see with this crappy picture, but the scar is there under the eye.

Kid: Are you a real pirate?
Me: Do I look like one?
Kid: *nods*
Me: Sshh. Don’t tell anyone. I might get in trouble.
Kid: *smiles*

It was great. I’m used to interacting with kids while dressed as a pirate for the New England Pirate Faire (which was also this weekend, so I wasn’t in it nor could visit), so it all felt natural for such instances to happen. It was fun to make some kids happy to meet a real pirate at the beach while waiting to shoot my next season.

It was a great day. We got all my scenes filmed and I’m stoked to see how it all looks at the end.

The movie doesn’t have a name yet but you can get regular updates on Kickstarter. It’s currently entitled The Anne Bonny Project.

J.M. Aucoin

Author. Fencer. Sometimes actor. Full-time nerd. I write swashbucklers & historical adventure novels.

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