The past week of production on No Man Shall Protect Us: The Hidden History of the Suffragette Bodyguards has included black-screen studio action scenes performed by a very talented pair of stuntpeople. Rather than shooting long, elaborate fights, the aim was to create about twenty short, diverse sequences that will be edited together to illustrate key moments of the suffragette Bodyguards’ story.
Both the Bodyguards and the London police were streetwise, experienced tusslers, but – jiujutsu lessons notwithstanding – few of them were experts in a formal fighting style. Therefore, the challenge was to keep the action within the bounds of plausibility, while still ensuring that each “fight” told its own story. That meant that the fights had to look scrappy and relatively realistic, with the Bodyguard and the constable occasionally staggering off-balance in the heat of the action or succeeding as much through luck as through skill.
Likewise, unusually for fight scenes, the characters were not necessarily trying to hurt each other. The suffragette’s objective was more often simply to get past or escape from the constable, whereas the constable was attempting to block or arrest the suffragette.
When clubs and truncheons were drawn, though, most bets were off …
The production has now also filmed a number of prop inserts, including demonstrations of the circa 1909 boardgame Suffragetto, to help illustrate the complex tactics of suffragette vs. police street skirmishes:
No Man Shall Protect Us is now entering the final stages of production. Once the documentary is edited, it will be made freely available as an educational resource via Vimeo.