The experience overall working on Bleeding Steel was very fast paced; early starts, late finishes, and you had to be prepared to drop other things and be on set when required. The workload can start off slow and become particularly overwhelming as the production kicks off – wrangling coffees for departments, handling paperwork for extras, cleaning trailers, moving mats on set and hanging around Jackie.
Being part of an international big budget movie production that is a co-production between China and Australia allowed me to gain insights into the dynamics of an intercultural working relationship. Both had their similarities and differences but the main things that I learnt in the process was how to find ways to communicate and overcome the cultural barriers as well as how to work cohesively in departments to reach a common goal. There’s a lot at stake on big budget productions and the production team is always on the move and fixing any issues. Communication is even more vital in this department.
In regards to directing, I had the opportunity to see Leo Zhang at work, watching him direct both Chinese and Australian talent, as well as interpret the script. He was both firm, relaxed but very focused and entrusted the Jackie Chan stunt team with the action. I enjoyed watching the stunt team devise fight choreography, then shoot it, then present it to Jackie for the final approvals before it became the template for the film.
Networking was one of the biggest benefits from working on the film. I got to meet action stunt people whose work I knew from Facebook. Getting to see them in action was an insightful experience that also helped me plan for my own future independent shoots.
The experience has opened up many doors for future projects internationally for me. As well, getting to know Jackie gave me more confidence in my own multi tasking abilities. I also learnt that I don’t need to follow the trend of specialisation to be part of the fabric of the industry. I can act, write, produce if I want to and I’ve got the energy and vision to see a project through from beginning to end.
Industry placement experiences are invaluable to all types of filmmakers wanting to learn and connect with people and teams who are long standing in the industry on an international scale. You never know what friendships you can strike up and where it leads your professional development in the industry. Personally, if it wasn’t for this placement, I would have never got the chance to meet Jackie and his close crew. In the male dominated field of the martial arts action genre it can be especially difficult for women to seize opportunities. It was amazing to spend time working with Jackie, learning from his skills and experience specifically in fight choreography.
The Screen Internship Initiative is part of I.C.E.’s Screen Cultures Program, supported by Screen NSW.
Maria was awarded Best Female Breakout Action Star category for ‘Hit Girls’ at the 2013 Action on Film Festival in Los Angeles.