“…Do not go gentle into that good night.Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”Dylan Thomas
All too often, test fights end with a “light switch” kill, meaning that the character gets stabbed and one breath later, they expire (many fight scenes in shows end this way, too, unless otherwise scripted). There’s often no reaction to the death blow other than the physical motions. These are this person’s last moments alive! Ask yourself what is happening to you in those moments. “Dying ain’t dead!”*
I once received this list as an actor’s guide to the stages of dying:
- denial and isolation
In a test fight situation, you may not have the time to establish sufficient momentum to earn a lengthy death scene (read: don’t go over-the-top with it!), however, you DO have time to have your character realize they’re dying, react to that and then expire. Leave your audience with a complete story.
For further inspiration, see what Dylan Thomas had to say about what should be in your head and heart in your last moments. Granted, Thomas is talking about a different situation, but I think we can still draw inspiration from his words.
Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night
Source: The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1957)
*We’ve heard “dying ain’t dead” out of several of our colleagues and mentors, but most often from Dwight McLemore and John Lennox.