Do you think you have what it takes to be a Stunt Performer? People contact us daily and ask us how to become a Stunt Performer. There is no exact answer we can give to someone on how to get into the stunt business. Stuntmen and Stuntwomen all have different skills that get them hired to work in the entertainment business. What we recommend is extensive training in a field. Whether it is years of fight training, dirt bike riding, Gymnastics, or racing cars. Some of the top stunt performers currently being hired are ex-MMA fighters, Cirque du Soleil performers, collegiate gymnasts, and performers that work at live stunt shows all over the world. One thing people do not talk about is the percentage of injuries a stunt performer will go through over their career. Proper Strength training, Cardio Exercise, and Chiropractic Care is a must to keep a performers body in tune. A stunt performer usually goes through many injuries while training before they ever step on set to perform a stunt.
While Stunt Training you need to get experience on set. We recommend becoming an Extra, a Stand-In, or a production assistant in the film industry. This is where you will get much needed set etiquette. A stunt performer with good set etiquette can get more work in the industry than a higher skilled stunt performer that has bad set etiquette.
Chuck Hank and the San Diego Twins was a labor of love for indie film company Coatwolf. Coatwolf got a lot of attention years ago with “Bellflower” at Sundance. This is their follow up film written, directed, and produced by the company. Using a very gritty and unconventional filming techniques these filmmakers do what ever takes to bring there creation to life. Early on in there development of the project Director / Producer / Actor Jonathan Keevil and Producer / Actor Evan Glodell knew they needed someone that could help them with the action. So they contacted TJ White at T Minus Productions to help with with there film. When meeting and developing the action scenes they all decided that it would be best for TJ and T Minus Productions to come on and produce the action scenes with them. Lead my T Minus ProductionsLauren Pacheco to associate produce the film and help facilite high budget film action on a modest budget indie film.
Lauren and TJ’s first order of business was to get the actors into shape and train them to be fighters. They didn’t want to use Stunt doubles for the fight scenes so they would have to train to be able to do the moves that would be needed for these fight scenes. After weeks of training the actors they went into pre-vis with TJ’s stunt team to design the fight scenes that fit there script. After all the pre-vis and training the team sat down with there Director of PhotographyJoel Hodge and storyboarded the action scenes . This was a very detailed process planning out all the action so that every moment on set would be taken advantage of. Take a look at the first official trainer below.
Cast and Stunt Crew for a scene on Chuck Hank and San Diego Twins
Director Jonathan Keevil with Stunt Coordinator TJ White and Fight Trainer Kelly Carter
People can watch films like Die Hard, Rambo or even MTV shows like “Jackass” or “Nitro Circus” and think they have what it takes to become a Professional Stunt Performer. The truth of the matter is that there is no easy way to get into the business. Stunt performers spend most of the time and energy training just for the chance to be able to perform these jaw dropping stunts. It takes years of training either in horses, racing cars, gymnastics, free running, Mix Martial Arts, acting, and stunt training from experienced stunt performers and stunt coordinators.
If you ask your self, How do i get in the business? Well, the first thing is to start training. Get into a gym and work on your flexibility, core strength, balance, and agility. There are many gyms in Los Angeles that focus on Stunt Training like: White Lotus, XMA, Valley College open gymnastic night, and Bob Yerkes Circus Productions. There are also Stunt Schools that you can attend around the United States that you can get your basic stunt training to acquire the skills needed to start out.
Also note that training does not stop when you start working on projects, it is just the beginning. Directors, Producers, and Stunt Coordinators create all types of different stunt sequences for films, television, commercials, and music videos that are impossible to train for if they are new innovative stunts. As massive as their imagination allows them to dream, those skills required to perform those stunts get greater and greater.
After you begin your stunt training do not think that this is the time to start sending your headshot out to Production, and Stunt Coordinators to get a job. The first step should be trying to get a job in a stunt show at Disney, Knotts Berry Farm, Universal Studios, or even Six Flags. It is here you will grab hold of great stunt training and meet some of the upcoming stunt performers in the business. Many of the top Stunt Coordinators and Stunt performers in the business today started out in live stunt shows spanning all over the world. Some even continue to perform at these live stunt shows to sharpen their skills and exposure.
Another avenue to go is to start working as an extra in TV, and Film projects. This will educate you on the way a set works, the hierarchy, know who’s who, and what to do and what not to do.
Think of a Stunt Performer as an athlete. You must take care of your body through nutrition, exercise, and prepare mentally. You will need all your senses to be sharp, for your reflexes and strength may very well save your life. There is a reason production does not allow their actors to do most of there own stunts. It is because with an injured actor you are not able to continue your project causing delays. That is why production companies hire a Stunt Coordinator to find a skilled Stunt Performer to stand-in for actors. Sometimes even the stunt performer that is trained get injured. Then production will have to find a replacement for them. So the key here is to train so you can pull off the gag with no injury and as least amount of takes as possible.
So after reading this, if you still have the heart and audacity to want to become a Professional Stunt Performer, then go out there and start training. Who knows, with due time you may just be the next Hollywood Stunt Coordinator.
Sci-Fi action thriller The Hunger Games (directed by Gary Ross) proves that audiences want to see action, drama, and perhaps more importantly, great stunt work!
To date, the film has grossed nearly $500M worldwide. Critics have compared THG’s staying power to that of Avatar and Titanic. The film’s female centered cast and compelling action sequences have been credited as the key elements to the film’s success.
The Hunger Games’ stunt performers, as well as stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, and Liam Hemsworth, have called their THG stunt training the most intense of their careers. Stage Combat moves are abound in the film, with actors taking each other on with knives, bow and arrow, and seemingly anything they can get their hands on! The chaotic fight sequences keep the action moving and the audiences hearts pounding .
Action reigns supreme in this box office smash – as is the case with nearly all of the top grossing films in history.
Stunt Coordinator TJ White with Stuntwoman Boni Yanagisawa
Stunt training actors and actresses is something that elite stunt coordinators and stuntmen do quite often on set. The reason there is an industry in stunts is because in most cases it is impossible for an actor to be able to act and have the ability to perform all stunts. Although in many cases there are a few that insist on doing some of the labor and in more cases the directors are the ones that require the actor to enlist in stunt training so they can get their shot for their action sequence.
Using the Bourne film series as an example of why stunt training actors can increase profit in the box office. These films wouldn’t be as thrilling if you didn’t see Matt Damon speeding through the streets of Paris in a Mini Cooper. The fight sequences wouldn’t be as brutal if you didn’t see a glimpse of Damon’s face versus just the back of his stunt double’s head. Of course his double is there to do more of the extreme and technical aspects but directors know what audiences want and they want to believe their favorite action hero can actually do most if not some of the stunts.
As filmmaking advances with new technology there is an advancement that is happening within the actors as well. With new creative ideas of how stunts can be done and how far the line can be crossed the evolution of stunt training actors has to forge ahead.
Today, it is a fact that stunt training has elevated the action actor into another realm of fame and glory. Tom Cruise’s ability to train and do many of his stunts in the Mission: Impossible film series is due to the hard efforts of the stunt department training and perfecting his proficiency in stunts. Audiences flock to the theater to see Cruise be Ethan Hunt because they believe the action. Fans don’t like to be fooled so when they see their action actor performing alongside their doubles it gives them a sense of relief to know that their badass hero that they just spent $20 dollars to go see at the theater is delivering the goods.
Training begins many weeks and even months before any director ever yells “Action!” In pre-production the stunt training can include motorcycle driving, stunt driving, and various forms of fighting to make sure that the actor is believable when it comes time to film. When the actors have gone as far as they can go then the stuntmen and stuntwomen come into play. Many stunt performers include: college athletes, cirque de soliel performers, high divers, Olympic athletes, MMA fighters, NASCAR drivers, and even sensi’s themselves. These experts will work alongside the actor to create a reality that then can be taken on screen and be creditable.
As always safety is rule number one and stunt coordinators and stuntmen will always be sure to use proper stunt equipment and pads to reduce the risk of injury. It is important to have well qualified coordinators on set and involved with the stunt training because if your lead actor gets injured because he or she thought she could do the stunt, well then your whole picture is postponed and all your momentum becomes deflated along with the studio’s pocket book.
Stuntman Tanoai Reed, Stunt Coordinator TJ White and MMA Fighter Tito Ortiz
A Fight Choreographer or a Fight Coordinator is a very technical job and usually assist a Stunt Coordinator with fight scenes. there background usually are expo fighters, trainers, black-belts in various disciplines. These highly train people have years of training spending thousands and hours and dollars on there given profession. They usually train the actors, stunt performers months before a shoot so that they can get the choreography down. During pre-production they film various choreography of the scene so that the director can get view it and get a feel of what the scene will look like.
Pictured in the photos in this blog are Stunt Coordinator TJ White and Fight Choreographer Kelly Carter putting together a MMA fight scene for Director Dean Karr and his music video “Truth” for the band Seether.
Kelly Carter also has a back ground in AIS and Strength and Conditioning training, and MMA. TJ felt he was the right choice to not only over see the choreography but to stretch the talent and athletes before, during and after the fight scene. Do the time constraints of filming a music video, TJ and Kelly spent most of the early part of the day rehearsing scenes. The had three different fights, one with two girls, one with a little person and guy playing Santa, and the 3rd being to 230+ pound MMA fighters.
Kelly Carter Fight Coordinating for Photo Shoot at Big John McCarthey’s Gym
TJ White and Kelly Carter Talking Choreography for the Scene