Today we bring you Part Two of our interview with leading lady Geneviève Doang of Les aventures de Tranh et Nowak. If you haven’t read Part One, please check it out. We hope you enjoyed the interview and enjoyed getting to know Geneviève Doang.
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to get into Martial Arts or Stage Combat?
It is not only about the technique and the skills to achieve a jump, kick, series of punches or acrobatic moves. Half of the work – especially in Stage Combat where it has to look ‘real’ – is about the acting. What I mean by that, is that the essence of Martial Arts is the ‘fighting spirit’ of it. When I say ‘acting’ I don’t mean ‘pretending’, I mean really acting out your emotions by showing your fighting spirit from the inside: the rage, the inner fire, the eye of the tiger… whatever you call it. Your movements can be technically perfect, but if we can’t see in your eye that you are putting all your martial spirit into your fight moves, it won’t feel alive and real either as a martial artist, or as a character in front of a camera.
How did you get into Stage Combat?
I had shot a fight scene for a student short and a fashion film before, but I really seriously started out with our film ‘Tranh & Nowak’ with my partner – now my husband – who wrote the script and played Nowak. We both share the same career as actors and passion for Kung-Fu (he was actually a high-level athlete in the French National team for years, whereas I’ve mostly practiced at a recreational level). After that, I was also given a part in the digital series ‘Dragon Race’ in which I played a bad-ass villain who had good fighting skills.
What is the most challenging part of stage combat?
Being able to memorise the moves, while playing, thinking about the camera angles, not hurting your partner… it requires a lot more than being able to do some fight moves even if you practice martial arts.
What drew you to your role in Tranh et Nowak?
My husband actually wrote the character thinking of me… So obviously there is a lot of Tranh in myself. Like me, she is a fighter, but she’s also smart and down-to-earth.
How did you prepare for your role in Tranh et Nowak?
We took the time to prepare for the fight scenes before shooting. It was the biggest part of my preparation. For the rest, the character’s energy and personality was pretty close to mine so she was quite natural for me to play.
How much influence did you have on the action choreography for the film?
When the action coordinator designed my part of the fighting, he did put in a few moves that he knew suited me and highlighted my skills.
What was the best part of filming Tranh et Nowak?
Of course the action part was epic! We had the most skilled and talented new generation of French stunts on set with us. It is a big part of our film. Also, the ending part when Otto Von Schnitzel disappears through an escape hatch after giving his long speech, was totally improvised and hilarious. We had originally planned an escape through a window – he was supposed to grab a rope ladder attached to a helicopter – but we realized that the angle by the window would be too difficult to shoot… So Simon (the actor who plays Von Schnitzel) came up with that goofy idea instead.
What was the most challenging part of filming Tranh et Nowak?
Again, the fight scenes. It was a massive part of the film, lots of moves to learn and a lot of work to integrate each part smoothly because it was a fight against 8 people at the same time, not to mention we had to synchronise ourselves at the end when we were 2 agents fighting together back to back against the others. Quentin also had some long sequence fight shots to handle, which were very challenging, and for which he did a wonderful job. Finally there was also a few unexpected minor injuries that we had to deal with during the shooting of the fights. For instance, Jean-Paul Ly who played one of the henchmen sprained his toe… we had to find a way for him to leave the fight, so we improvised him getting shot accidentally by the clumsy big villain and asking permission to go home!
How was working with Quentin D’Hainaut?
It is always a bit tricky to work with one’s partner in real life! Sometimes we understand each other better, and sometimes we can’t help arguing about some other stuff. It was part of the challenge to work together as a couple. Then of course, Quentin d’Hainaut is both a talented actor and a very skilled stuntman so I couldn’t ask for a better partner in crime!
How was working with Godefroy Ryckewaert?
I have always had a great admiration for his work as an action director and stunt coordinator. He was also a high-level athlete in Kung-Fu (that’s how Quentin and him met) and a professional stuntman before getting behind the camera. I think he has a unique eye and way of shooting action, and he gets you right in the middle of the action, while letting you see everything that is going on. Which is not always the case in the big Hollywood action movies where they try to impress you by putting so many camera movements and cuts that you can’t really follow anything… I am very proud to have worked with him, and I am sure we will be seeing more of him in the future!
I know you’ve done work on voice overs, which film or television series has been your favourite to do voice overs for?
I have loved being the French voice of Jerrika Hinton as Stephanie Edwards in ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and more recently in the HBO series ‘Here and Now’. I’ve also loved playing Mona’s French voice (Janel Parrish) in ‘Pretty Little Liars’ (can’t wait for her character to return in the spin-off ‘The Perfectionists’!), Kira (Arden Cho) in ‘Teen Wolf’, Ciri in the video game ‘The Witcher 3, D.Va in ‘Overwatch’…
I know you also sing, How did you get started in singing?
As a kid I grew up with music by learning solfege and the piano (even though I stopped after 4 or 5 years), and I have always loved singing as long as I can remember. But I’ve only started taking actual singing lessons a few years ago when I was already an actress. Then I was lucky enough to get my first singing part for a Musical showcase about Marco Polo’s story. I was only part of the Ensemble, but I had to learn the music (80 pages of score) in 2 weeks and it was a real challenge for me to be able to work with all these people who had much more experience than me. I felt very grateful that I was able to be part of that adventure, and I would love to sing again one day in another project or musical!
How has your experience been with Fighting Spirit Film Festival?
Soo from the Festival was super friendly and reached out to everyone involved in the selections since the beginning, establishing contact, connecting us through discussions group. It is the first time I’ve been part of a Festival where the organisation team has been so supportive, active and close to the participants and our films.
Last year you won best actress, how did that impact you?
It was a total shock and surprise! I never expected that I would one day win ‘Best Actress’ in a comedy-action short film! I felt extremely proud, grateful, honoured and I actually got a lot of congratulations from a lot of people on my social media, too.
Tranh et Nowak also won Best Action Choreography, how did it feel to accomplish that?
This award on the other side, didn’t surprise me as much as winning Best Actress. I feel that Kefi, Damien and Godefroy’s work on the action of ‘Tranh & Nowak’ was totally worth their prize. Again, I feel grateful that their vision and talent was awarded. I am very proud of what we have accomplished with ‘Tranh & Nowak’, and that our work was appreciated by the audience and the jury of the Fighting Spirit Festival and of all the other festivals in which we won other awards and selections.
Well folks, we hope you enjoyed the interview.
To keep up to date with Geneviève, make sure to follow her on social media.