Behind the Scenes: Fake Fights in the Movies

Do you know how much effort goes into fake fights onscreen? Learn the process from an expert stunt coordinator!

Do you need to know how to throw a fake punch? Probably not, unless you’re a budding action movie star or stunt person. Do you want to know how to throw a fake punch? Of course, you do! Let’s face it, fake fights, as I like to call them, are way cooler than real fights (because “real life fighting is awkward!”); that’s because there’s a whole different process to a fake fight, especially in the entertainment industry. There’s preparation, choreography (not just for dance!), and learned methods to look real without causing actual harm.

In the video below, an expert movie stunt coordinator explains what goes into a fake fight and some of the mechanics behind the moves:

Movie fight scenes at their best are spectacular, visceral, and impactful. Films like Creed, John Wick, and Bullet Train have scenes that make you feel every punch. But not all fight scenes are created equal. We’ve all seen scenes that rely on quick cuts to conceal the absence of actual physical contact, or scenes that just don’t land. Crafting a fight that immerses the audience and makes them feel like they’re in the midst of the action requires a delicate dance between choreography, the work of stunt performers, strategic camera angles, immersive sound effects, and, above all, a compelling story. Most of the time, actors and stuntmen aren’t really hitting each other. So how do they make it feel realistic? In Vox’s latest, stunt coordinator and second unit director Wade Eastwood breaks down the artistry behind creating on-screen battles that leave a lasting impact on viewers, even when the punches aren’t real.