My name is Adam Rector. I played Shane Gurren in Student Seven and also served as the fight choreographer and action coordinator for the series.
My relationship with the series began rather early in it’s process. I distinctly remember a meeting with John Quick, Sam Sher, Chelsey McKrill, and Sarah Pierpont down at a local coffee shop where we began discussing the series. I was brought to that meeting with my fight mentor and good friend Adam Noble. It was at this meeting that I was first introduced to the creative team and the project as a whole. It immediately captured my interest and I was happy to sign on as fight choreographer. We discussed the visual style of the film and how the fights might be portrayed as well as what characters and weapons we would be working with.
As a choreographer this was a dream project. It gave me the chance to work with a wide variety of characters, weapons, fighting styles, and locations and really play around. There was a lot of driving emotion and backstory I could use to inform the physical performance and we were incorporating a fight audition into the acting auditions for the series. This allowed me to, from very early on, get a feel for how physical I would be able to push the actors. Many of the leads had little to no fight experience, however we were graced with several skilled martial artists and talented physical performers throughout the series that added quite a bit of stylistic flair to various episodes.
While running the fight auditions, Chelsey McKrill first suggested that I audition myself. I had not originally intended to be in the production, but my limited prior acting experience didn’t seem to scare off the team. I was eventually cast as Shane Gurren, the leader of the Gamers Brigade.
After auditions were finished we had our Seven. We also came up with what we deemed the “fight chorus” who would serve as bad guys in several portions of the story. We then held fight training for both the principles and the “chorus.” Here we just covered some basic fundamentals of fighting for film as well as basic handling of various weapons that would be used in the series.
As far as developing the fight sequences themselves, I would always first have a sit-down with Sam to discuss what would happen in the fight at a macro level. If there were any particular sequences I had in mind I would also run these down with him then. After that I would take what we had discussed in that meeting and what I knew about the characters’ motivations and fighting styles and work out a ‘dialogue’ of the fight itself. Once each move was choreographed I would run it by Sam again and then we would get the actors into our rehearsal space. On average we would work the fights 3-4 weeks prior to their filming date. This involved slow walk-throughs at first that gradually increased in intensity. As the the filming date for a particular fight scene neared, Sam and Sarah would come to the rehearsal so that the three of use could begin to hash out how best to shoot the fight.
Shooting the fights was always a demanding process on everyone involved. It was, however, great fun! I am very proud of all the work everyone put in to the fight scenes and how they turned out. Getting to work with so many talented actors, fighters, and traceurs was truly a joy.
This was especially true of one of my co-stars, Doug Burbank. We began training extensively about half-way into the series. He really dedicated himself to preparing for the rigors of his final fight scenes, including 5+ day a week training and some interesting dietary prep work. All the work paid off and I am sure you will see it in the final episodes of the show.
As for being Shane Gurren and the rest of the non-fight related elements of Student Seven all I can do is express joy. There were some incredibly late nights, quite a copious amount of Coca-cola consumption on my part, and a lot of hard work but even the most difficult parts were an amazing experience. I absolutely loved the cast and crew and we all bonded a lot while shooting Student Seven. It was a defining aspect of our lives for quite some time and the memories will stay with all of us.
I hope everyone enjoys the final product as much as we enjoyed making it!