This week’s interview is with Matthew “Novastar” Carauddo, founder of Saber Combat, which specializes in lightsaber classes and performances.
Tell us about your saber combat business – it involves shows, classes, and parties, right? Tell us about what you do!
There are many facets to the goals of, and the actions/work of SaberCombat.com.
One aspect of the work is regarding unique performances that run the entire gamut of staged work, including fight choreography, staging, sound editing/engineering, vocal recording, music, and–naturally–costumes and building LED saber props that are meant for hard strikes and punishment.
An example of one of SaberCombat.com’s projects is at this link–a complete re-enactment of the famous “Empire Strikes Back” saber fight scene between the two epic heroes we’ve grown to know and love:
A second aspect of SaberCombat’s contributions & work are more about workshops, birthday parties, and special events. No two are alike as every event has its needs, desires, requirements, and circumstances.
Events can be as complicated as a corporate event with a performance and “saber workshop” for adults in mind:
…or, they can be much simpler (to a point)–as events designed for youth, birthday parties, or martial arts schools. Parents end up having MORE fun than the kids… SOMEtimes… 😉
A third aspect of SaberCombat is… helping OTHERS to do awesome saber combat / staged combat work, in the form of tutorial videos, the SaberCombat fight choreography system (DVD tutorials on the website), and classes.
How did you get the idea to run a saber combat business – and what was your first step in making it a reality?
To be perfectly honest, a lot of it simply occurred “over time”, and in some ways, was simply a subset of my fencing instruction and experience. The site and business didn’t actually come from one, singular, resolute decision.
Taking a step backward in time, back in 2005, I was brewing upon an idea I had to do an entirely LIVE light saber performance, involving 10 performers all on stage at once, complete with sabers, sound editing, music, vocals, a general story & characters, dramatic staging, and of course… awesome fight choreography.
At the time, I was running a small saber fencing business, and my involvement with anything “Star Wars” was limited to a few video games, the films themselves, and being inspired by John Williams awesome music. I didn’t even have any kind of “jedi costume”–never had any need. 🙂
But my sudden idea to do a 10 person fight required a lot of behind-the-scenes work, planning, money, initiative, research, and of course… even auditions & casting! 🙂 Also, initially, it was VERY difficult to get or build the appropriate props for actual staged combat, as… at the time (again ~2005/2006), the technology simply wasn’t present.
The 2006 performance of “Balance of Power” was a huge hit with viewers (Youtube was actually very new at the time!), and it emblazoned me to continue on to… see where the proverbial “rabbit hole” went… 🙂
Over due time, I actually ended up helping to further innovate LED saber props as part of a small “saber community” (which built props on their own, independent of large toy companies)… and even ended up designing some of the first custom “saber sound fonts” that were installed into more present-day sabers. 🙂
Examples of my sound font work can be found here:
More time passed, and I made a simple staged combat tutorial (care of numerous requests from fans & viewers) and released it as a single product for people to learn from. A year passed, and I had greatly built upon my own basic system, and wanted to share more of it… so I paired up with a local martial artist to film some more in-depth tutorials to become a part of two DVDs–each with several videos entailing how to do high-level staged combat with the right kinds of tools, notation, drills, patterns, training, etc.
Shortly after that, the DVDs and work became so popular, SaberCombat.com went from being a site “solely to launch the DVDs” into something MUCH larger! I’d taken my first step into a larger world. 🙂 Well… more like my 4th or 5th step, I suppose…
What’s the biggest challenge in your business?
Lately, the biggest challenges have been tenfold (unfortunately). I’ve recently run into a lot of health issues–despite my lifestyle being fairly well revolved around fitness and staying in shape. I’ve had to pour almost every dime I have (which isn’t much, sadly) into two MRIs recently, and… there isn’t much I can do right now except fight through extreme pain, shoulder issues, and so forth.
Finding the RIGHT people with the right work ethic, team spirit, dedication, and true desire to innovate has been very, very difficult!
But, I’m extremely hopeful, as… I HAVE worked with some REALLY great people–really talented individuals, such as my associate Gary Ripper (Ripper Sabers & Ripper Blades), who not only portrays “Darth Vader” in my “Empire Strikes Back” re-creation, but designs and sells some AMAZING acrylic & polycarbonate saber and sword prop blades, all hand-designed. For more information, just look up “Ripper Sabers” on Facebook… you’ll know his incredible work when you see it.
Ultimately, challenge is a good thing. If a hero in a film “quit” when things became overwhelming or difficult… he or she would NOT be much of hero, now would they? 🙂
You have a cyberpunk project in the works – tell us about your involvement with that! What’s the series about, and what’s your role?
Ah, you’re resourceful, and… must be watching my “Novastar” Facebook page! 🙂 I can’t really say all that much about it right now, but here is a video which shows a different side of my work, as… I’m not just a “light saber guy”, my background is varied. Performance, acting, writing, costuming work, vocal work and electronics fit into many ways of expressing art:
I have since grabbed myself a “long length” leather jacket (only $30–discount store) in order to help the costume & look work better, so… progress is being made. Stay tuned for more later on!
It’s summer, it’s hot, kids are bored, mom is tired. What movie that ISN’T Star Wars should we watch?
Ironically, since you noted this possible cyberpunk project I may be involved in… instead of a film, how about a game? An “old” one, but a great piece of work that won “Game of the Year” twice over, if I recall correctly.
The game is “Deus Ex” (2000), the original one created by Ion Storm, made for PCs. It couldn’t be more than $10 now to buy, and it’s definitely one of THE best games I’ve ever played, winning on so many levels: excellent gameplay / skill trees / RPG elements, excellent music, excellent storyline, perfect ambiance, great characters… it’s the way a game is supposed to be made! Not just “shoot everything in sight” like they seem to be doing these days. 🙂
Here is a short animation where I was able to voice the “J.C. Denton” character. I’m hoping to do more with this, too:
My only final thoughts would be… whatever your passions & dreams are–keep pursuing them. I realize that this is cliche’, but here’s something important I will add to that…
The most difficult part about pursuing your dreams & passions is the fact that you are going AGAINST the grain. Society will prefer to push you toward ITS desires, and let’s face it: when 1000 voices are telling you to “go left” when your heart tells you to “go right”… you question yourself, and sometimes–it’s MUCH easier to just stop listening to yourself.
You have to also do the WORK though, too. 🙂 Nothing good comes without dedication, consistency, and weathering the proverbial storms & tsunamis that life often casts your way. When the storms come–you mustn’t stay there, you must fight THROUGH them, and as the old quote goes… “keep going”.
“When you’re going through Hell… keep going.” –Churchill