"We live in a world now where legend and nightmare are real" states Master Gregory in the film Seventh Son. Oddly pertinent these days, even though its from a fantasy film from 2014 that we crafted several groups of weapons for, including Tom Ward's (Ben Barnes) hero sword. The movie is trending on Netflix at the moment and is a decent sword and sorcery movie with some good humor and monsters.
The Spook or Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) is the local witch/monster hunter and the last of his breed. He recruits the seventh son of a seventh son to be his heir, though the evil Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) has just escaped imprisonment and holds a grudge against the Spook for past wrongs. This is inspired by the books of Joseph Delaney's Spook series, but the film is noted for not following the book to closely.
Over the years we have participated in several film and TV projects. We usually do not seek out this type of work as a major avenue of how we operate, but we enjoy doing our part to enhance such creative endeavors and the challenges such jobs present. Making swords for movies as your only occupation is a tougher gig than just making swords for a living.
Most of our talents have been creating pieces and advising on historically based productions. The majority of jobs turn out to be solely providing props. We have, on occasion, not only crafted the armor and weapons for a production but also advised and choreographed to depict the time period and how the pieces are used to enhance the story. In the case of Seventh Son here are some of the items we made for the film.
You will notice that most of these are pictures of multiple items. In film work the major props are usually done as a group with several of each piece. This provides insurance against any problems such as loss, breakage or disaster. It is also practical as often they will need a variety of items in different states throughout the story. New, used and destroyed of the same item, and possibly needed for filming in the reverse order. The production will often make additional items from other materials as well. Stunt folks rolling and jumping off high spaces prefer pieces not adding more danger to already complex performances. (this also provides options if the talent needs additional safety for those facing them in fights and stunts.)
Another aspect of film work is once the weapons are shipped away they are completely out of your control, you are unable to influence how they are depicted, highlighted or even if they make it on screen. If you get a hero shot with the sword in focus, you are very lucky. In the case of this film they had a great deal of cgi work on the monsters and villains. This part of production had difficulties, so while we made the pieces prior to filming it was years before the movie was released. Patience is something needed in this type of work as it is either late before they even commit to the order or once done you have little control.
So if you get a chance check out the movie or watch it again and give a salute when you see the Arms & Armor contributions :-)
Check out more info about our work on Seventh Son here
Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography. He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.
Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985.