It was our pleasure to interview FanFilm Awards 2018’s winner for Best Choreography, Writer, Director, & Producer of FanFilm, Harley: Fernando Huerto. Leading the interview is our Founder & CEO, Stefanie Warner.
STEFANIE: In the DC Universe, Harley has been growing in her popularity ever since the release of the film Suicide Squad. Was this the inspiration of your film? What did you want to add to Harley’s story by creating the film?
FERNANDO: Suicide Squad was indeed one of the inspirations of our film because the trailer had just came out at the time and Hot Topic was selling all of that version’s Harley Quinn costume pieces. They were easy to get. The other one was Batman: The Animated Series. Our Harley actress, Jacqui Verdura, already had a similar voice to Arlene Sorkin from the show, plus she looks like a Harley Quinn, so I felt like we had to do it. We didn’t set out to add to Harley’s story. We just wrote a simple plot to support our vision, which was an all out action film where Harley kicks ass. We wanted to explore her fighting ability which she definitely has. A lot of Harley Quinn fan films or DC fan films that had her in it in the past, had her do very little action or none at all. I think there was only one other video online before ours that had her do a fight utilizing a well trained stunt woman.
STEFANIE: Harley’s personality is one that is very impressionable. How did you incorporate her character into the choreography?
FERNANDO: When I created the fight choreography with my stunt coordinator, Kerry Wong (G.I. Joe Retaliation), I wanted Harley’s personality to show the entire time to give the character and scene more depth. It can’t just be a regular fight. So I had Jacqui add a lot of playground joy in the entire sequence, with one example being was her yelling, “Wee!” when spinning and throwing a guy. Throughout the fight she had to enjoy herself. This chaos is fun for her. So she smiles and laughs as she’s hitting people left and right.
STEFANIE: What style of choreography was used? Is this style popular in filming fight scenes? What does the fighting style lend to the overall aesthetic of the film?
FERNANDO: The style of fight choreography we used was a Hong Kong cinema action style and incorporating Tae Kwon Do and Pro Wrestling moves. Tae Kwon Do is used in a lot action films that have kicking techniques in them. Pro Wrestling, specifically the acrobatic style of Lucha Libre, works perfectly for Harley’s fighting style, which is rooted in gymnastics. So the Tae Kwon Do kicks and Lucha Libre moves suited her well. If you watch the animated movie, “Batman and Harley Quinn,” she does a lot of kicks. So it’s not far fetched for Harley to do these moves in our film.
FERNANDO: I knew in the beginning that I wanted to have Harley use her baseball bat. Incorporating it into the choreography was easy. We treated it as if she was swinging a sword and sometimes playfully brandishing it like she was on the batter’s plate. Next time, I’d like to use her oversized mallet. That would be a fun challenge.
STEFANIE: Your film finishes with a montage of Harley taking on multiple men by herself. How was filming one verses many? Were there challenges in doing so?
FERNANDO: The one versus many warehouse fight was fun to film. Luckily, me and my friends in the film are professional stuntmen who have done these kinds of fights for over a decade. Me, Kerry, and my camera man, Eric Nguyen, have filmed and edited a ton of one versus many fights on our own separate productions, so creating the big fight for our Harley fan film, blocking it for camera, and framing it was not difficult. The challenging part was the timing of the moves with Jacqui across more than one person, since she has less experience than us. Though she has done a bunch of action films with me in the past, those were always one on one fights against me. This was her first fight scene with multiple opponents, so she had to be aware of the other performers on the sides and behind her.
STEFANIE: Is there any advice you would give to aspiring stunt and choreography directors? Was there anything new that you learned from making this film?
FERNANDO: My advice to aspiring action directors would be to trust your stunt coordinator and fight choreographer. Work with them instead of against them. More often than not, stunt coordinators/fight choreographers have technical film experience and cinematography knowledge to know where to place the camera and what angle is best for a combination of moves and for landed hits. Also, give them the time they need. Our warehouse fight took several rehearsals and filming it took almost 12 hours. You can’t rush a fight scene if you want it to look real good. I don’t remember what new thing I learned from making this film, but I’d like to say that a lot of things I learned from making films in the past helped to prepare me to make a Harley Quinn fan film.
STEFANIE: Thank you for sharing your version of Harley with us! Are there any further films from the production team in the works?
FERNANDO: What we have planned in the future is we have the Harley Summer Special Series coming up next and hopefully we will get to work soon on a second episode of our main Harley Quinn Fan Film.