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“The Way we Shot The Promo Allowed Him to Get Creative, Fuel His Character, AND Keep Him From Doing Any Damage to His Newly Repaired Triceps”- Jason Garris – Exclusive Interview

6 min read

Although WWE's product has been hit and miss, to say the least, over the past few months, one story has maintained a high standard, and that's vs. . Since his incredible return at this year's , Edge has been embroiled in an intense, emotionally driven feud with Orton that built to WrestleMania, and then led to the two having the “Greatest Wrestling Match of All Time” at  in June. Although the feud is on the back burner temporarily due to Edge suffering a torn triceps injury in his defeat to Orton at Backlash, we did get one more promo post-Backlash from the ‘Rated-R Superstar', teasing his eventual comeback and rematch with ‘The Legend Killer'.

The last time fans saw Edge on WWE programming was during his captivating promo in the corner of a darkly lit ring on RAW's June 22nd episode, where Edge warned his rival that he will get revenge and also teased the return of his “Rated-R Superstar” persona. Of course, that promo was filmed away from WWE's then-TV base, the Performance Center, and due to the current climate, it provided an opportunity for Edge's friend to film the promo.

SteelChair Magazine had the opportunity to speak with Jason, discussing how he put together the June 22nd promo with Edge, his decision to incorporate more camera movement during the promo, why this feud between Edge and Orton has been so strong, and much more in this exclusive interview.

How did your friendship with Edge develop, was it through a creative project like a film or TV show of some sort?

“Edge and I met through a mutual friend that wasn't developed around any sort of film or TV production. Mainly coffee.”

WWE has had some hits and misses this year, but Edge and Randy Orton have rightfully been showered with praise. Have you been watching their stuff, and if so, why has it been so compelling in your opinion?

I've been watching their story develop and really enjoy “comeback stories.” That being said, I like watching stories that shift character development. I know Edge had been seen as a “tamer” version of himself recently, but with the latest developments, his character has a real chance to take a turn.”

Looking at your Vimeo account, you've done some fun and different short films. What was your reaction to finding out Edge needed this promo done for RAW?

The chance to work with a guy who has as much acting experience as he does was a really fun invite. He and I talked about some of the thinking behind his monologue and then to be able to pitch some visual ideas to him, hear his feedback, and then run with it was a great partnership.”

What did you discuss with Edge before filming the promo, and what was your thinking behind it?

After reading his script, I knew that things were going to be moving to a “darker” place. I knew that after an injury, there's lots of time to sit and “think” (or mainly stew over things that had happened). The visual of his “two persons” really painted a picture that there was “someone else” showing up for this fight. Being alone with your thoughts can take you to some pretty dark and desperate places.”

Side note, did you try to look at it like a traditional wrestling promo because the look and feel of it is not what we're used to seeing? 

I grew up watching a lot of wrestling and loved the drama that unfolds through their storytelling. I wanted to take a little bit of a risk and let the acting AND the visual production work together in that storytelling. Most of the time, the camera is set, and it's up to the character to “be everything.”  I wanted to see if camera and character could “partner up.”

The constant camera movement was a nice touch, and it fits with the promo as it almost created this unbalanced quality that fit with Edge's words of unleashing the Rated R superstar. Was that the idea behind it? 

“The idea was really to feel almost like breathing. As his intensity picked up, a little more movement, as he recovered, a little less. Same with catching the lighter side of his face vs. the darker side.”

I'm not sure if you saw, but somebody commented on Edge's post of the promo and criticised the shaky-cam aspect, and Edge most certainly did not agree with it. What was your reaction to that? 

I think that any time you create something, there will be folks who see it differently. There will always be thoughts that it “should have been done this way,” etc. I think when you are in the art world, you are readily open for criticism, and it comes with the territory (should almost be expected). I think you just have to go for it, knowing some will love it, some will hate it… but you just have to be okay with that. I loved the chance to take a risk… glad I won't look back on this and think of it with any regrets. Risk and reward!  No risk, no reward!”

Edge is quite the perfectionist. Was the promo one of those one-take deals, or did Edge or you want to do more one than one take? 

Oh, he nailed it! I was ready to take a few takes, at least two, but the dude killed it on the first try.  I was blown away because I knew that he hadn't had the script ready for that long! Edge is a pro's pro!”

How do you think it ranks with other Edge promos? 

I'm such a fan of promo work. Promos, in my opinion, always help catch people up AND move the story along. They reveal the past, and they create tension for the future. I hope that my promo kept with that feel – even if the visual looked a little different.”

Edge

How did Edge tap into that anger and frustration to make it so authentic and visceral?

I think being able to use one simple light for the shoot, his injury, and a dark, empty wrestling ring made it real. Having him sit in the one place that he has known so well and so much good has come from, to have that all taken from him in an injury and to know that there is a long road back – he was able to go pretty dark, pretty quick.”

Usually, WWE does pretty much everything by themselves. Is this promo an example of the current climate giving someone like yourself the opportunity to jump in and help film something for WWE? 

I don't know that I could say that it is, but with COVID19 and our current global travel situation, for this instance at least, it made sense to keep it local and to keep any unnecessary travel from having to happen (for both Edge and any of the WWE production team).”

What was your reaction to it when you watched it air on RAW and did you hear anything from people within WWE?

My kids and I watched, I had friends watching, and I got texts from friends that shoot congratulating me on how I shot it. Having spoken with Edge about reactions from within, they were all very positive. Here's to hoping for more opportunities!”

Edge RAW Promo

The interesting thing about the promo besides the actual content and style of the camera work is it came after Edge's torn triceps injury. How did he react to that injury because you must have filmed that pretty soon after he did his Backlash match? 

“Edge actually texted me photos of the triceps injury surgery a day or two before we shot the promo. I was shocked at how quick “back to work” he was. I think the way we shot the promo allowed him to get creative, fuel his character, AND keep him from doing any damage to his newly repaired triceps.”

If given another opportunity to shoot a WWE promo, do you have any ideas that you'd like to try and incorporate?  

“Right now, I think we'll take it one shoot at a time. Meaning, depending on where he is in character growth and depth, where he's at in recovery, and how quickly (or slowly) Edge would like to move the story along will determine a lot of how we think through promos in the future – that is, if WWE will still have me. I've just been thankful for the experience.”

To keep up to date with Jason and his work, you can follow him on Instagram @Jasongarris and check out past videos on his Vimeo.

You can also go back and watch Edge and Randy Orton's Last Man Standing match and their Backlash showdown on the WWE Network.

Images and videos courtesy of WWE and WWE's YouTube.

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