Monday, November 28, 2016

Where Dr. Strange's Somatic Components REALLY Came From

If you've seen Doctor Strange (and really, who hasn't at this point?) chances are good you walked out of the theater with a serious Jones to play a spellcaster. Part of that was the great performances of the cast, and part of it was probably because of all the work that had been put in to really sell the spells. Not just the great SFX efforts that went into the production, but the choreography that went into making the spells actually look like something the casters were putting real effort into.

You know what I'm talking about.
If the hand motions used by the Sorcerer Supreme and his fellow magic users look familiar, they should. The movements are called tutting, of finger tutting, and the style is closely associated with street dance. Even if you're not part of that scene, though, you've seen tutting in the Samsung commercial "Unleash Your Fingers". You also saw the choreographer for Doctor Strange if you've seen that particular viral ad. His name is Julian Daniels, but his performing handle is Jay Funk, and you can see more awesome examples of his work on his YouTube page.

He was also the man in the opening scene of the film who forms the magic whip, according to director Scott Derrickson.

Sell The Magic, You Sell The Story

One of the things Derrickson said about Dr. Strange was that he didn't want the magic to feel like anything audiences had seen on-screen before. You know, the usual flick of the wrist, a single word, and then you get a result. The magic in Doctor Strange had to feel old, the techniques and devices steeped in tradition and ancient knowledge. They also had to feel like something that could have existed in secret in the modern world Marvel has been building. And though it's a relatively small detail, these gestures are something that really makes the adherents stand out.

In a good way.
As I brought up previously in What Do Your Verbal and Somatic Components Look Like?, the more effort you put in to stand out, and be unique, the more it feels like you aren't just casting out-of-the-book spells. Just like every swordsman has a unique style, and every brawler has her own approach, your spell components are what reflect your character's unique magical tradition. Because while the effects of the spells may be universal, what you do to create them can make your character really stand out.

And, of course, if you want some simple performance art that you can do without disrupting the table, finger tutting is always an option.

That's all for this week's installment of Moon Pope Monday. If you'd like to support Improved Initiative so I can keep content just like this coming right to your screen, then drop by The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page. As little as $1 a month can make a big difference, and you get some sweet swag if you put at least that much bread in my jar. Lastly, if you haven't followed me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter yet, well, why not start now?

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