Why Parkour is So Suited to Superhero Films

Specifically, my films :-) Back in August 2014, I wrote about the first day of shooting the Lolly Rosewood mini movie/minisode/short [I still can’t decide what to call them — suggestions welcome].

To recap, Lolly is 16 years old, has questionable morals (if any) and is a tad psychotic. She also has enhanced physical strength.

Parkour Life: Magdalena Sieczkarek from Parkour Generations stars as Lolly Rosewood in the Class Heroes minisode

So how to convincingly portray that on screen when I don’t have the budget for stunts, risk assessment, health & safety, or an actor who could convince an audience that she’s a deadly killer, whilst looking like butter wouldn’t melt?

Or do I?!

I contacted a great organization called Parkour Generations in London to ask if they would be interested in helping me bring Lolly to the big screen. I had the incredible good fortune to speak to Alex Pownall. Alex is an incredible parkour performer, and rather handily has had quite a bit of experience in the movie business himself. He was also a fascinating, all round top chap.

Alex arranged for Magdalena Sieczkarek to play the part of Lolly. Perfect casting. She so looks the part. Beautiful, but I actually could believe she would chase and kill her prey just for sport (I mean that as a compliment, Magdalena!).

On day 1 we filmed establishing shots of Lolly in Chelsea and a short action sequence in Vauxhall.

On day 2, it was all action. A rooftop chase in Vauxhall, over walls, jumping gates and climbing the side of a block of flats in Battersea. And a rather satisfying climax in a railway tunnel. All expertly filmed by Nick Woolgar, who again very kindly agreed to be DoP on the shoot.

Alex Pownall and Magda from PKGen rehearse for the Lolly Rosewood movie

Magdalena performed take after take, seemingly without getting tired. Goodness knows how. It looked knackering.

Alex choreographed Magdalena’s moves, and the fight scene/final showdown between Lolly and her MI6 pursuer (played by Ipswich actor Mike Cook).

Full credit to Mike and Magda for throwing themselves into the action and making it look really convincing — and quite nasty.

Mike put in a really great performance as the secret agent. I’d briefed him that I wanted a performance similar to the MI5 agents in BBC TV series Spooks, and he really nailed it.

Mike Cook, "Lolly Rosewood" and Alex Pownall on Chelsea Bridge, filming Class Heroes.

The film is with the sound designers at the moment and will be released in the next couple of months.

Read the book it’s based on: Where’s Lolly? A short story in the Class Heroes series, currently at the sale price of £0.99p / $0.99.