Wednesday, July 23, 2003

I came across a neat thing yesterday.

I was reading an article on the sword work done in Pirates of the Caribbean, and a name jumped out at me on the page. I thought it sounded familiar, was puzzled for a moment, and then everything came whooshing back. Mark Ivie, swordmaster. Hmm, swords, Ivie, holy cow, it was Mark from Designworks! I worked at Designworks, a car design studio in Los Angeles, for about a year as a freelance researcher on a team designing concept BMW 7-series prototype.

Mark was a jack of all trades at the company, and I'd remembered that he had a second interesting career as a swordmaster. No, not the kind of swordmaster whose skills are filmed on video tape in the San Fernando Valley, but real sword fighting. Blades, fencing, knives, duels. Errol Flynn kind of stuff.

Only in Los Angeles.

Mark had worked on the movie The Mask of Zorro training Anthony Banderas and Anthony Hopkins and choreographing sword fighting scenes. I remember when he showed me pictures from his work on Zorro, which was filmed in Mexico. He had pictures of himself with Catherine Zeta Jones, Anthony Banderas, and Anthony Hopkins. It looked like a lot of fun, and a lot of hard, arduous work.

In the article, he was talking about coordinating the fights between Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom, and the approaches that they took to each character's fighting style. Johnny Depp's was more casual and free, and Orlando Bloom's character was supposed to have been classically trained, so they instituted the difference in styles into the choreography of that fight scene. I wish I had known all this before seeing the movie, as I would have paid closer attention to the fighting styles.

Mark Ivie (left) on the set of "Pirates of the Caribbean" working with actor Trampas Thompson.

I liked Mark, as he was an odd man out in the company of mostly stick-up-the-ass car designers, as was I. I joked with him at one time that I'd like to take up sword fighting, and he was eager to teach. Perhaps I'll see if he's still game when, not if, I get back to Los Angeles.

That article was just another reminder of the interesting souls that I've known in my lifetime and how blessed I am to have come across them, eccentric beings that they are. I miss having coworkers who have such offbeat and cool lives or interests outside of work. I think that Mark has now dropped Designworks for a full-time job as a fencer/swordmaster. As they say, do what you love, the money will follow. And, you just may get to board a pirate ship and sword up some whoop ass on A-list Hollywood hunks in the meantime. What a trip.

Reading that article served as another tap on the shoulder for me to keep moving foward. And I am. Moving forward, that is. And fighting the good fight.

But I'm using my pen, as my sword.