AMANDA WYSS Q&A

Amanda Wyss

Q1- What aspects of playing Randi did you enjoy the most? What do you think about your character after 30 years?

I enjoyed playing Randi tremendously. She was tenacious, smart and innocent. My character added an element of lightness and innocence that was important to the show. I was so sad when they chose not to continue with my character.

Q 2 -Randi has a lot of fans in the Highlander World. How do you feel about that?

I'm honored and in awe of the love for my character. I am a fan of the Highlander series, too. So means a lot that people liked my work.

Q 3 - Randi is back in the Highlander Imagine Series of books. What aspects of Randi’s personality would you like to see explored in the books?

Oh gosh…I just want to be surprised by how her story unfolds.

Q 4- What are your current projects?

I have a movie coming out called The Id. It is available on Amazon.com. I have a virtual reality horror short that is currently playing on YouTube, apple and Google. Also, the movies The Capture, Sleep Study and Watcher of Park Ave are coming out next year.

Q 5 - Thirty years after the original Highlander movie, how do you view the concept of Immortals, Quickenings, and the Source?

I think it's spiritual, metaphor and magic!

Q 6- We can easily divide Highlander into three periods: the original movie, the TV series, and the movie sequels. How do you feel about each of them? Do you agree with this division?

That seems about right. I love the films. I'm obviously partial to the series. But again wish they would have kept my character going. I think it added another dimension to the show.

Q 7 - There has been considerable speculation across the Highlander Facebook platform whether or not immortals could remain hidden in the 21st century with all the technological devices that make it almost impossible for a person to ‘disappear’ and be ‘reborn’ with a new identity. On the other hand, this same technology could make it easier for them to remain hidden or reinvent themselves. Do you think the concept of Highlander could be set in 2016?

Absolutely!

Q 8 - What is your most vivid memory of filming Highlander?

Hands down it was having lunch with Joan Jett! She came up to Canada to do a guest spot. I am such a huge fan of hers. I was thrilled beyond belief!

Q 9 - If the Highlander reboot becomes a reality, would you like to be part of it?

100% YES!

Q 10 - One of the most attractive aspects of Highlander is the use of swords. Did you become interested in them after the show / movie?

I was very interested. I never had the opportunity to work with them much. Sometimes just messing around. It's a beautiful skill.

Q 11 - What are your feelings about your character in the Highlander universe?

I'm proud to be a part of the Highlander family! It was one of my favorite roles I played on TV.

 

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DAVID ABRAMOWITZ Q&A

David Abramowitz

Q1- When you first heard about Highlander – what was your first reaction to the proposed or established Highlander storyline?

It intrigued me – I was interested right from the start. The idea of people potentially living forever presented the writer with a lot of possibilities that could be explored. The immortality angle promised to be fun to write about.

Q2- How did you approach the development of the storyline of the first episode you were directly responsible for?

The overall vision of TV Series wasn't really fully developed when I was initially brought onboard. The base storyline revolved primarily around Immortal Vs Immortal – in other words, the fight and subsequent beheading. It occurred that for the series to have legs it would have to be about more, that there were questions to be answered. Issues to be probed about the nature of life, good and evil, ethics and morals over time etc. Also after having lived multiple lifetimes it only made sense that some of these unique people would have had to deal with psychological issues – such as not being able to cope with their immortality—the powerlessness of remaining alive while people died all around them. The episode, 'Studies in Light', is probably the first episode that allowed the characters to delve into the trauma and psyche of immortality. The Immortal physician, Gregor Powers (Joel Wyner) is shot by the grief-stricken father of a young cholera victim he is unable to save – he develops a nihilistic and suicidal attitude. Mortal flesh can't be saved, therefore his function as a physician is futile as is his life. It took a number of episodes to develop a firm direction to move the stories along. It was tough going – especially at the very beginning. When I walked through the door for the first time and sat down, I was faced with a 'blank slate' – meaning there was little to fall back on. No acceptable stories, no draft scripts, and two writers to work with, I literally had to roll up my sleeves and get to work on the spot. We are talking about straight 14 to 16 hour writing day. In the film world, time is literally money. A day where the cameras don't roll means burning through $60K - $70K with nothing to show for it. No one wants that to happen on their watch.

Q3- Can you name a time when during shooting the script had to be adjusted? How was the adjustment dealt with during shooting? Do you recall who the actors were that were involved and their responses?

This happened a number of times during shooting. The most difficult involved Werner Stocker (Darius). I received a call no writer ever wants to get at 2 am in the morning. Werner was deathly ill 36 hours before the start of production and he was the main guest star. I literally had to get out of bed and start writing. Thirty hours later we had a rewritten script where Roger Daltry (Hugh Fitzcairn) was featured. There was no time to even proof the script we just shot it and it worked. We were lucky. 'The Beast Below' was another rapid re-write – though fortunately not for the same reason. The actress, Dee Dee Bridgewater (Carolyn Lamb), was cast as the irresistible singer whom Christian Van Acker (Ursa) was irresistible drawn to. As the script was originally written, she simply didn't fit the descriptive part, prompting a re-write. There were numerous other situations, which needed immediate attention as well. We had to deal with Mother Nature – floods and various inclement weather days. There were frequently things beyond anyone's control.

Q4- If the Highlander reboot becomes a reality, would you like to be part of it?

Yes – absolutely.

Q5- What are your current projects?

I have been working on a film in China entitled, ' Gifted'. It's a family drama about a young and gifted concert pianist who lives a double life.

 

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F. BRAUN McASH Q&A

Braun McAsh

Q1- When did you first learn to use a sword? Under what circumstances?

I started training with a sword when I was in drama school, since the school was connected to a university which had a fencing team. Normally you start with foil, but since my aptitude appeared to favour sabre, I was allowed to begin training with that weapon. Starting in third year, we also began two years of theatrical sword training which, at the time, was taught by the Hungarian Maestro, Istvan Danosi.

Q2- When working with an individual on the Highlander set, who has never handled a sword, what are some of the basic instructions / skills you want to have the person master as quickly as possible?

When training someone with little to no experience, I always begin with the parries, since it's psychologically beneficial that they believe in their ability to protect themselves. Then we go to control exercises showing them how to target their attacks precisely and to stop their sword so it doesn't cut through to the perceived target. This gives them the confidence that they won't hurt their opponent. But generally, a lot of the training, including footwork which is crucial to maintaining proper distance, essential to safety, is done while learning the choreography, since in the time-frame we normally had for rehearsals, there was no other option. I also would have the fight shot phrase by phrase - no masters - and small bits within the phrase that would allow difficult moves to be featured but also entirely controlled.

Q3- Can you relay a time during the filming of a Highlander episode where what you thought was going to be a simple sword scene suddenly became very complicated? How did you deal with it to keep shooting on schedule?

Time is always the enemy when shooting a fight - normally, four hours was the norm. I also strove to never have two fights on the same day, although sometimes, because of location availability, it was sometimes impossible not to. Insofar as 'simple' fights are concerned, there really isn't any such thing. The choreography must be character-driven and story-driven, but the style and moves are dictated mostly by the design of the weapon and the weapon against which it fights. It was also understood from the very beginning that there could be no alteration of or addition to the choreography on the day of filming. When we go before the camera, the fight is what it is. General, the only thing that would cross us up occasionally was the weather, which we had no control over. The pouring rain during the entire filming of the final fight in Duende, for instance.

Check F Braun McAsh  as Hans Kershner in The Modern Prometheus

 

Questions asked by our Highlander Imagine Facebook members (questions and answers have not been edited)

Norman C. Lao: I have a question: Braun - if one wanted to START learning how to learn the Bladed Arts, what sword and style would you recommend as a good entry point? As a HEMA practitioner, I started with Liechtenauer, but two handed German longsword may not be everyone's comfort level. Also, there are costs associated with training fees, equipment, etc. Essentially, what is the most accessible "starter" package for someone to start training in bladed arts.

Braun McAsh: There are just so many different designs of sword throughout history, it depends on where you want to begin. I would start with a light-weight sabre to learn proper controlled and thrust techniques first, since this is easier on the wrist. And although a bokken is not exactly a longsword, it does have the advantage of cheap and light and gives you a perfectly acceptable simulation of a two-handed weapon, bearing in mind you must also assume a double edge.

Norman C. Lao: Would you encourage people to start with synthetic swords or wooden wasters (like bokken) so that training wouldn't be as intimidating as say handling an actual blunted steel sword?

Braun McAsh: I suppose it would initially be easier on the wrist, and for basic technique, they aren't bad - bokkens are considerably cheaper but bear in mind they don't have the reach of a real longsword. There's nothing to stop you from using proper replica with close to the original weight and well-balanced right from the beginning - all our Ring Of Steel students do. Just bear in mind that you should do some wrist strengthening exercises before you begin training.

David Middleton Edelen II: I have a question for you Mr. McAsh: I have never taken any sort of lesson in my life. I love the US Civil War cavalry sabre, namely the 1860 Lt Cav Sabre. I've never sparred with anyone. I play, train, and practice alone. The only external influence I have had was through my Civil War "Sabre Drill" from Cooke's Cavalry Tactics in my Civil War reenacting days. That and Cold Steel's "Fighting with the Sabre and Cutlass", with Anthony De Longis doing most of the instructing, along with Lynn Thompson. I also love Cold Steel's Shamshir and MRL's Scimitar (almost identicle), of which I have the latter. I practice some moves with it.
So I was wondering, what do you think of the Sabre and the Shamshir/Scimitar as weapons. Just curious as to what you think of them.

Braun McAsh: Most Shamshirs have very distinct curves to the blade, more than European sabres. This indicates a more circular fighting style (ie: greater arcs in the cutting technique) since the hightened curve is designe to keep as much blade on the target through the entire draw. This also indicates that fighting takes place closer up. And scimitars are not particularly good thrusting weapons because of that fact. Personally, I love sabre - it was my first competative weapon. I have also been trained to use it off horseback by my first Judo sensi who was a WWI cavalry officer.

Norman C. Lao: One of the things I have actually learned is that there is essentially a way to "pull your punch" and removing the extension of the blade so that there is a measure of safety when executing certain moves - especially those scenes where you see a sword whistle past someone's face or torso. BUT as with all things, a choreographed duel is a partnership and you have to trust the choreography and, unless rehearsed as a NEW idea - NEVER, NEVER, NEVER improvised in the midst of the actual full speed performance. Miming and accenting body movement also helps sell the scene as well; stamping your lead foot as you attack, throwing yourself a little out of balance makes you look WAY out of balance, etc. etc. You are still acting while fighting and telling a story.

Braun McAsh: A point or presented edge must never cross the plane of your opponent's face. One of the main ways to pull power out of a cut without sacrificing the look of force is to train an actor to throw the blow like casting a fishing pole - the blow's movement starting with the shoulder or elbow, but isolating the blow through each joint in the arm, so that at the moment of contact, the only thing driving it is wrist action. With two-handed weapons, the lower hand can help arrest the motion, and generally, I teach to point with the thumb or uppermost knuckle (depending on the sword design) to point directly at the 'target' which is the safety margin above the percieved target. Often it is also possible to throw a blow stepping in on the opposite foot to the sword side which helps prevent body weight from increasing the power.

http://theringofsteel.com/


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ELIZABETH GRACEN Q&A

Elizabeth

Q1- Thirty years after the original Highlander movie, how do you view the concept of Immortals, Quickenings, and the Source?

I don’t know that I have a ‘view’ about those Highlander concepts – but, I think ‘there can be only one’ is a pretty great construct that truly identifies and defines the franchise. I’ve never actually seen a couple of the films that deal with the Source, so I can’t talk to that aspect. Immortality has always been fascinating to people. Having played a character who has lived for a very long time, it was a great way to wrestle with what it must be like to watch people live and die - while you just continue on to see it all happen over and over again. I thought that the McCleod character really embodied the melancholy and measured approach to relationships with mortals that all of the HIGHLANDER immortals have to deal with.
As for Quickenings – I’ve had a few, but then again… too few to mention (that’s Amanda being silly).

Q2-There has been considerable speculation across the Highlander Facebook platform whether or not immortals could remain hidden in the 21stcentury with all the technological devices that make it almost impossible for a person to ‘disappear’ and be ‘reborn’ with a new identity. On the other hand, this same technology could make it easier for them to remain hidden or reinvent themselves. Do you think the concept of Highlander could be set in 2016

Of course! I think the current technological reality gives the immortals an even greater challenge to survive. Just think of all the story ideas!

Q3- What is your most vivid memory of filming Highlander?

A: In a word … Paris! Ha! What a great opportunity it was to work in France and get to shoot in such wonderful locations with terrific actors and fantastic costumes, wigs, etc. It was an actor’s dream. I have a feeling I will never be able to top that experience in terms of acting. I’ve been involved in enough productions to know that we had something special going on… and I’m still friends with these guys. I adored working with them.

Q4- If the Highlander reboot becomes a reality, would you like to be part of it?

You know it, but I assume they will reboot from the ground up with younger actors – new faces. This is Hollywood, baby!

Q5- What are your current projects?

I have a lot of projects in the works at the moment. I self-published a Young Adult fantasy novel called Shalilly and started my own publishing company/eCommerce website. I’m getting ready to do a big launch on http://www.flapperpress.com
There is a placeholder on the site at the moment, but we will be launching at the beginning of November. Books are just a small part of the venture. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and I am excited about featuring fresh ideas, art and original merchandise on the site. I’ll be launching in the next month, so expect to hear a lot about this ‘portal’ to unique gifts and products.

Through my production company, FLAPPER FILMS, I just finished a documentary short that I am really proud of. It is called DANCE FOR JOY and celebrates the healing movement classes offered by the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Lineage Dance Company to help people with Parkinson’s Disease find freedom, hope and a sense of community through the arts.

I’m also busy with two films at the moment. I’m in the rough assembly stage on a documentary short called LEE about the wonderful Lee Meriwether. I filmed an extensive interview with her this summer. She is just magnificent!

For the past year, I’ve been adapting a live performance piece with one of my frequent collaborators, the Lineage Dance Company. It’s called CELING IN THE FLOOR and will be a feature length film for the educational market. It’s a heavy piece about the arc of a friendship told through original music, dance and narration. It deals with mental health issues – a very honest, raw piece that is multi-layered. It’s a real challenge to bring to life on film.
http://www.flapperfilms.com

Q6- Highlander Imagine Series is bringing the characters back to life. What role would you like your special character to play in this new series of books?

Just keep Amanda alive and kicking, please! If I ever get around to it, I have permission to bring the RAVEN franchise into the fantasy book realm as well. It’s on the list! I would never want Amanda to go away. She is such an important part of my development as an actress and artist. What a joy it was to play her! Keep writing her into your stories, s’il vous plait!

Q7- Amanda was such a dear character that she was given her own show,Highlander The Raven. What are your thoughts about the show and the development of Amanda?

In general, a television series is a real beast to make work. I think the whole HIGHLANDER franchise, because of its syndicated nature back in the day, would do marvelously in the current television climate. Can you image if HIGHLANDER: THE RAVEN could have been on HBO or some other channel where it could have really been sexy and current? The Amanda character would have so much fun! I think this strong and wily type of female would be terrific in this day and age.

As rough as my personal experience was at the time, I wouldn’t trade working on that show for anything in the world. There were all sorts of forces at work. I had my part in the demise. We all did. It just wasn’t meant to continue on. However … I just had to put together demo reels recently, so I got to see a lot of the work we did on the show. I’m proud of the hard work we put into the project. For HIGHLANDER fans, I know it wasn’t their cup of tea, but it actually is a lot fun. There are some stellar moments. I love looking at it. I remember how hard it was to work on that show… and how wonderful it was.  I sort of dream of seeing Paul again and giving him the longest hug and telling him – “Let’s do it again! Only better!”

Q8- Amanda is back in the Highlander Imagine Series of books. What aspects of Amanda’s personality would you like to see explored in the books?

I like that question! As I mentioned before, I have the rights to bring Amanda back to life as well in YA books, so I’ve thought about all the many possibilities of where to take her. I think the main thing is to explore what happens to a ‘late bloomer.’ Amanda has been around a long time, but she is slow to learn because of her very difficult beginnings. She has a stunted aspect to her personality - a survivor who sees people falling like flies all around her throughout history. I think she is pretty pessimistic about human beings, in general. It takes a lot for her to believe in anything anymore. It makes sense to me that she matures (I think that is what we were trying to do in THE RAVEN) ever so slowly into something spectacular. There is nothing like a mentor/teacher/guru who has weathered allof life – someone who has explored, failed and picked herself up again – enough times – to actually take stock and glean the value of existence. I wish that for her. I love Amanda. She is magnificent. (I’m saying that with a wink and a smile)

https://youtu.be/xowNxNEVftE




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