The Witcher may be best known for giving Henry Cavill another vehicle with which to show off his many stunt talents, but that doesn't happen in a vacuum. The fantasy epic's third season debuts on Netflix on June 29, giving fans the first part of Cavill's final outing in the role of Geralt.
That hasn't stopped the creative team behind The Witcher from giving their all to this season's creepiest monsters and most impressive stunts. And to pull it off, everyone has to work together. "As the meetings really kick off, we started having conversations with art departments, [and] the directors then come in, and then when we come to things more with monsters and I have to bring in my vision," says Tim Crosbie, The Witcher's VFX supervisor.
"And then we have endless conversations with showrunners, writers, directors, myself, art department, each of us going 'what can we bring to this?' It sounds like we're creating by committee, but we aren't. Lauren [Schmidt Hissrich, showrunner] is running the show, but we will bring our ideas in."
Coordinating stunts with visual effect monsters is a feat that requires Crosbie to work in close collaboration with Wolfgang Stegemann (2nd Unit Director and Stunt Coordinator), Nick Jeffries (HoD Armourer), and Lucinda Wright (Costume Designer). Wright tells us she would attend stunt choreography sessions to figure out how to make her costumes fit the physical demands on Cavill.
Crosbie describes one of these sessions, and working with Stegemann: "We storyboarded it out, worked out beats and bits and pieces, and in the end when we shot it there was three of the stunt team together in their green/blue suits kind of holding each other and fighting with noodles to really help Henry understand the choreography was going on."
Stegemann adds: "I have Nick with me in choreographing process. And we look at it and see what works, what doesn't work, what we need to address from the stunt side, how we can present the sword in the right way."
But Jefferies designs weapons based not only look but also on use. He describes designing multiples of the same weapon with certain specifications depending on the stunt — two swords may look identical, but one will have a rubber hilt so it can be used to hit someone on the head.
Jefferies adds: "There might be the real hero sword that has the great balance" for actors to handle and get the feel of, but the rest of the swords are specifically made for each stunt.
Some swords have blades cut short, which allows Stegemann to hide cameras strategically and allow for cameramen to capture profile shots that wouldn't be feasible with full-length swords during fights.
Cavill's ability to do stunt work in particular made everyone's job easier, including Davies'. He was able to shoot many clean passes, in which Cavill flowed through the choreography without the stuntmen present "he was even more into it" because he didn't have to slow down for fear of injuring a fellow crewmember. This made it easier for Davies to go in and add the VFX easier.
Above all else, their ultimate goal is safety on set. Jefferies says: " If we can do fantastic things safely, and that's what we're aiming at."
The Witcher: S3 Volume 1 is out on Netflix from June 29