By Ronald Gordon
Eric Jacobus is an independent action star and one of my favorite people in the movie martial arts community. He’s made countless projects on his own that are way better than what you would see in today’s movies. Recently, he was the choreographer for Kratos’ fight scenes in the new God of War. And he got to play the body of the God of War as well. That made me happy because I’ve seen some of his previous work and noted his accomplishments. Now, his talent is finally noticed in the game world.
For those of you wondering, Eric Jacobus wasn’t always the indie action star he is now; in fact, he started out small, a low-budget normal, person like anyone else. During our interview, Eric told me about how he first worked as a computer technician when he was 15. Through this, he was introduced to the world of tech and eventually to the world of film. He started out with a garage band’s worth of friends and started his own website where he reviewed Hong Kong movies.
Eventually, Jacobus took his group of pals, grabbed a VHS camera and started to make his own fight scenes in the style of the Hong Kong movies. He studied Cinema at SFSU in 2002 after starting a martial arts group called The Stunt People in 2001. Even while at school, he and his stunt group went on to create their own indie action films. Through this, Eric was able to fight his way up the ladder to the point of being able to make films to call his own and do what he loves to do.
My favorite film is “Blindsided: The Game” in which Eric plays a blind man named Walter. Walter isn’t your ordinary blind person, however. When he goes to the store to find his store owner friend Gordon being threatened by gang members, he takes matters into his own hands. “Blindsided: The Game” is a very innovative short film because not many films detail how someone who’s blind would fight. Some could argue that Marvel’s “Daredevil” movie also has a blind character. But Daredevil’s fights are unrealistically acrobatic for a blind person. Eric actually commented on this fact during the interview when he talked about how he tried to use different kicks while filming but none of them really worked for a man without. He also talked about how it wouldn’t make sense for the character to be walking around with a katana at first. Instead, they gave Walter a cane with a hidden knife. Then, the katana was offered once he knew he was going to be in danger.
Prior to God of War’s release, PlayStation published a video with Eric Jacobus about the work he’s been doing for the motion capture and the choreography. “God of War – How to Fight Like Kratos” tells the story of how Eric got noticed by Sony through his YouTube videos, and how he got the job as Kratos’ combat body. In the video, Eric explains how he thought Kratos might fight and how he came up with the combat. “We would never retreat in the game” is a line that is more than fitting for a character such as The Ghost of Sparta himself. That’s because Kratos is known for his aggression and his will to never back down.
Another line that shows Eric’s expertise on this matter when he says, “As a gamer, when you’re playing a game and you’re that close to the main character, you suspend disbelief so much more quickly when the character moves like a human.” In other words, Kratos does not move like a god or a monster. That would look fake.
During the interview, I made sure to write down notes on the advice that Eric was willing to give me on how to be a stuntman like him. I aim to keep these points with me along my journey.
For instance, I asked him the question, “How can I start doing what you’re doing now?”
He responded with “You got a camera?”
“Got a computer?” I said ‘yes’ once again.
“Got some friends?”
I said, Of course.
“Then you’re done.”
This showed me how I don’t need all the newest tools or fancy cameras to be a stuntman. All I need are the things I already have. Nothing that’s big starts out that way. Rather, it grows and manifests into something that’s larger and noticeable. We all start as a nobody and eventually we grow and find ourselves. We become somebodies.
Another note I took was about how Eric explained creating pathways for life and work. I don’t remember the exact words. But I do remember him explaining it like you’re standing in a line with a bunch of other people who are all trying to do what you want to do. However, if you stand in that line and think that out of all those people ahead of you, you’re gonna be the one that makes it, then you’re just as trapped as the people in front of you. Rather than standing in line and waiting your turn, sometimes you have to step out of line and go your own way in order to be successful. People who aim for true success don’t lump themselves in with people who are like them. They go their own way and make their own path to their success. This idea rang true with me as I like to embrace individuality. Knowing that one of my idols made it to where he is by being an individual makes me even prouder to be one myself.
My interview with Eric has opened my mind to quite a few things and has really broadened my horizon on how I should handle my future – and maybe how you can handle yours. Being an individual is not seen a lot nowadays; it appears that everybody wants to be like the latest rapper or rich guy. But no one wants to be himself or herself. But pretty much everyone has the resources he or she needs to start his or her own career. Yet people still don’t do so, which is why not many achieve their dreams. Because they never take the chances.
Ronald Gordon is a New York Videogame Critics Circle intern, part of our ongoing partnership with Bronx’s DreamYard Prep School.