Surprise! Flaming Arrows Don’t Like to Stay Lit

The first step in Operation #SoldOutShowis assembling a talented cast. For that to happen we needed the largest number of students possible to come out for auditions. I thought a spirited Robin Hood-esque auditions commercial was just the thing to encourage those student actors to try-out.

When you think of a Robin Hood the first thing you think of is an arrow splitting another arrow in two. Right?

How cool would it be if I made a promotional video doing that? It wasn’t long before I realized there was no way I could make that a reality.

So the second thing you think of when you think of Robin Hood is a flaming arrow. At least that’s what you think of when you grew up watching Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I decided I could make that happen.

How hard could it be?

Harder than you think.

For proof of concept, I first filmed a non-flaming arrow hitting the target with a GoPro. My first shot hit the Wanted poster dead center, but the impact cause the target to tip over.

I readjusted the target and tried again. Boom. Success!!

I also practiced filming a regular arrow flying through the air towards a target. In reality I was holding both the arrow and GoPro and walking them towards the target. The final results were convincing enough especially when I sped up the film.

To create the flaming arrow I wrapped several bandage gauzes around the arrow’s shaft and secured it in place with breathable gentle tape. Next I doused the gauzes with lighter fluid. I was sure to keep a five gallon bucket of water near by at the ready.

To create the flying flaming arrow shot, I attached the GoPro near the the end of the arrow. Then I slowly walked the arrow to the target attempting to keep the tip of the arrow steady and straight.

Later in I post-production I sped up the video to 3.75x normal speed giving the illusion of the arrow flying towards the target.

Now it was time to film the flaming arrow actually hitting the target and lighting the Wanted poster. Easy, right?


My first shot hit the target dead center but the flame went out on impact. So I doubled the amount of lighter fluid and tried again.

This time the arrow stayed lit but the sudden stop of the arrow caused the flaming wrap to slide back several inches away from the Wanted poster so it didn’t light.

I added more gentle tape to hold the gauzes in place and tried again. This time the everything worked except the paper was…very….slow………light.

That’s nothing more lighter fluid can’t fix.

No problem! That’s nothing more lighter fluid can’t fix. I squirted the poster being sure to coat the entire paper. This time when the arrow struck it instantly burst into flames. Success!

If you look carefully in the clip above, you can see the arrow start to droop. I didn’t realize it at the time but the heat from the fire had started to melt the arrow. D’oh!

With all the scenes recorded it was time to download the footage from the GoPro and stitch it all together in iMovie on my iPhone.

I’m going to claim fair use on this, but I added 30 seconds of music from the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’ Overture. Because if you ask anyone my age who their Robin Hood is they’ll say Kevin Costner.


Here’s the finished product. Enjoy!

P.S. If you are reading this before August 29, it’s not to late to try out.

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