Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson had a problem with bringing the magic of the Sorcerer Supreme to the big screen—namely, he didn’t know how he should do it. Should Strange mutter incantations? Use a wand like Harry Potter? He found the answer, surprisingly, on YouTube, in the videos of a dancer who goes by JayFunk.
“I think that magic tends to be something where you cast a spell and then the camera sits back and you watch something happen,” Derrickson told Vulture. “I didn’t want it to be that. I wanted it to be in the action, I wanted it to be more organic.” He also wanted it to be more physical, which is when one of his producers introduced him to JayFunk’s music videos.
“[JayFunk’s] one of the world’s best tutters,” Derrickson said, referring to a style of street dance that involves intricate hand movements. “He does these amazing things with his fingers, go look him up on YouTube. We hired him to do all the choreography [of the spells], so he taught Tilda and Benedict and Mads. It’s very specific and very deliberate and super-cool.”
And so, if you see Doctor Strange, every elaborate spell has been designed by JayFunk to match the needs of the story. Derrickson discussed one specific example.
“I gave the mandala to [J-Funk] and I said, ‘I need gestures that will last this amount of time to build this,’” Derrickson continues. “So we talked about, ‘Okay, so she’ll do this and then this part will appear and she’ll do this and then this part will appear and then she’ll spin this part.’ It was all very detailed and designed and he was awesome. I’m really glad we used him.”