~Samantha Swords

New Zealand/Aussie artist, writer and champion sword-fighter, works in the film industry as cast, craftsman and crew. Outgoing, and in love with life!

The Strain: Guillermo’s Dream from Book to Screen

It’s exciting to see that Guillermo Del Toro has finally been able to realise his rich and terrifying vision for 'The Strain'.

I worked with Guillermo years ago whilst he was directing The Hobbit, and also had the chance to create a unique window display for his New Zealand release and book signing of The Strain in 2009.

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Above: Part of the window display for Unity Books, Wellington.

For the display I made a dead version of myself in a body bag, and Guillermo nicked my ‘face’ from it for this freaky photo (below).

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I’m pleased to see brilliant work that the Toronto special effects team have crafted with Guillermo for the television series- as covered in this month’s edition of Cinefex.

Physical effects are alive and well, especially when this master of storytelling is calling the shots!

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Above: As seen in Cinefex, actor Andrew Divoff poses beside his sculpted likeness created by the highly skilled artisans at Applied Arts FX Studios.

“To be a truly creative company, you must start things that might fail.”

—   Ed Catmull (via disneypixar)

Had a blast at the Boston Science Museum with Kiwi fight designers Tony & Josh Wolf, running an ‘Action on Screen’ Workshop for the international computer clubhouse #Teensummit14.

Highlights: teaching shy teenage girls from Jordan how to fight with steel swords (despite language and cultural barriers), connecting with outstanding youth who had never before left their own countries, and hearing the story of an amazing 11 year old who has so much presence and knowledge in her field that she’s teaching adults.

Tomorrow’s leaders look to be all flavours of awesome!

~Entirely loved Jolie’s Maleficent. Great work from all the production teams, with a refreshing take on a known tale. We have another awesome female role model, who is not only kick arse whilst being able to feel vast ranges of emotion, but can also continue to grow after suffering enormous loss.
Great stuff!

Guard Up Summer Camp, Week 1 of 5:
The Zombie apocalypse, where 451 Agents (from the book Fahrenheit 451) tried to destroy all creative rebellion in collaboration with Cybermen from Doctor Who. The Doctor’s TARDIS was shot down by 4th of July fireworks, so he helped defeat the Cybermen, the agents, and the zombie hordes.

My character ‘Sterix’ was corrupted by cybertech and slowly turned mindless and bionic, but was a vital tool to defeat the evil Cyber Lord. Young Heroes exposed Robot Sterix (Agent X) to creativity, which was uploaded to the cyber network and used as an EMP to blast down enemy shields in the final battle.
Tons of fun, and four weeks to go!

(Photos by Albert Cook)

Help- We need a nurse! Wizards & Warriors Camps has lost ours at short notice, so if you’re ready right now for a 5 week adventure in Boston, contact us ASAP! Job description is here. Go-go hero network!

Help- We need a nurse! Wizards & Warriors Camps has lost ours at short notice, so if you’re ready right now for a 5 week adventure in Boston, contact us ASAP! Job description is here. Go-go hero network!

~At Guard Up’s Summer Camp in final countdown to a week of zombie combat, armed with Nerf and ready to fight back the horde. Good times!

Finally visited the beautiful training space at Forteza Fitness, Chicago- where they have medieval sword combat, film stunt training, and a museum of antique Victorian gym equipment! 
The black clothing is early female sportswear, once everyone worked out that woollen skirts weren’t the best to be training in!
The clubs were used by the militant Suffragettes in England back when they were fighting for their rights, and had to hide weapons on them because of frequent violent encounters with police. They hid these sturdy wooden clubs in the bustle of their dress. ~S
"If you give a girl a different toy, she will tell a different story". Two days left to be a part of this super Kickstarter!  If you haven’t seen the awesome video, check it out. I Am Elemental- Action Figures for Girls. ~S

"If you give a girl a different toy, she will tell a different story". Two days left to be a part of this super Kickstarter!  If you haven’t seen the awesome video, check it out.
I Am Elemental- Action Figures for Girls.
~S

Defeating the Mountain That Rides

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Game of Thrones- who can get enough? Not I!

I recently came across my friend Raab Rashi (of Sword Class NYC)’s Facebook post asking for input on how to fight the Mountain that Rides, in preparation for his interview with Esquire Magazine.

There were as many methods as comments, including suggestions such as “go for the weak spots in his armor”…”poison him”… “shoot him with a gun”… “attack the feet” and even the sensible, “don’t”.
I was initially intimidated and first agreed with the many people who suggested “run away”, but then realised actually, Ser Greggor is just a man, albeit a huge one. Same biology, same fragility. So I threw my perspective into the mix.


I should clarify that I’m focused on the ultimate goal: Defeat Cleggane. I’m not talking about the sword play, which follows the usual rules of ‘bind the sword with physics, use his force against him until you gain an advantage”. I’m talking about the messy bit that comes when you fight a big, angry armored man who needs more than a cut or two to take him down.


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Above: In Westeros, wearing a helmet isn’t as important as looking good in a fight.

Armoured fighting is about close plays, you can’t rely on lucky shots with your sword between the gaps. You have to go all the way.

With that in mind, here is my advice:


"Hit him with the biggest thing you can find: planet Earth. A man like Gregor is used to being a mountain, ergo: upright, so find a way to topple him. Any way, I’m not fussy. Environmental trip hazards, leg damage, or simply allowing him to over-commit to his blow- then throw him once he’s overbalanced. All that mass is going to hit hard, and any longer weapons are devoid of use. Remember- swords are only one tool to use in winning a fight.

Once he’s on the ground, break him up into little bits. Get on his head, take away his range of motion. Wrist/forearm (lock), neck (crack), the diaphragm (crush). Despite his great size, even a child’s body is larger than these. If he is facing down, take an arm and rip that shoulder backwards, up, and out. If he faces up, get past the hands and inside the helmet asap, take out some vital organs.
Assuming he may be a freak and doesn’t respond to pain penalties, start cutting up the pipes until all the pressure goes from his system, and he bleeds out.


That said, I would avoid fighting with Gregor Cleggane unless absolutely necessary. Also, the above assumes he is fully armoured and that this is a “fair” fight. If not, I would use any methods to take him down without getting into close contact.


I have met Conan Stevens, been drinking with him even. I know just how huge (and fast) that dude is. I know he’s since been Doctor Who’d out of the role, but given they have replaced him with Hafþór Björnsson, the third-strongest man in world comps and a former basketball player goes to show Cleggane’s not a slow, lumbering hulk.”

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Above: Lena Headey proves just how high Mount Hafþór really is.

It should be noted that my advice above is not what you’d consider for your average duel. Given the extremely violent world of Westeros, I’d use that level of brutality just in case the Almighty Lord GRR  was tempted to smite me. I’ve heard he’s known to do that.

With warmth to all you warriors* out there (*in heart if nothing else)!
~S
Top: Conan Stevens as the original Mountain that Rides.
Fun fact: Conan also played the magnificently evil Azog, of Middle Earth, sharing the role with Manu Bennett.
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