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What’s more exciting and adrenaline-filled than a career in stunts? A stuntman or woman is responsible for stepping in whenever the acting gets dangerous.
If you’re both passionate about acting and very physically fit, this could be the career for you. But, like anything in the industry, it’s difficult to get into and there’s a lot to consider before you get started.
Injury is inevitable
When thinking about acquiring your first role on a production, whether it’s in the theatre or as part of a blockbuster movie, it’s likely your first emotion is excitement. The last thing you want to think about is the potential for injuries and going through the long process of getting compensation for a broken arm or any other injury. Unfortunately, with stunt performer jobs it’s a fairly common experience. Of course, it’s possible to avoid accidents but even the professionals get hurt sometimes. Just this year Joi Harris, a stuntwoman, was killed on the set of Deadpool 2 in a motorcycle crash. Don’t be put off following your dreams but be aware of the risks involved.
Stunts are an art form
Everyone knows how impressive stunts look on the big screen. But what they don’t think about is the hours of training, practice and dedication that goes into perfectly pulling off that scene. Just like acting, stunt performers are artists. If you’re not willing to commit yourself fully to your art form, you won’t get very far. Most stunt performers take up parkour and combat sports, like boxing and Tae Kwon Do, in order to safely pull off various different actions. The training never stops, when you’ve mastered one sport, you’ll be straight on to the next one! Another way to vamp up your form is to check out acting programs. Even though you’re main role will be stunts, having acting experience on your resume will look really good to potential employers.
Just like getting into acting, connections are anything in the stunts industry. Let’s face it – how to get into stunt work is going to be hard. No stunt coordinator will hire an unknown stunt performer, as this puts them at risk of being humiliated by someone who simply can’t deliver. You need to master your art and then get yourself known in the industry. So, if you’re not a people person you might struggle to get yourself booked. There’s only one way to get yourself known, unless you happen to have parents who are A-list celebrities, and that’s to work your way up. Get yourself some work experience as a production runner or as an extra and use the time to network with professionals. You never know, if you make a good impression, you may be invited back in the future.
Although there’s no set route to get into stunting as a career, qualifications can help. A course in physical theatre or stunt training will help to build a solid base for your career. From there, you’ll need to work to gain membership to the Joint Industry Stunt Committee (JISC) Register of Stunt Performers, which shows that you’re recognised as a professional and qualified stuntman or woman. Getting onto this register is no easy task; you’ll need to be able to prove that you’ve got qualifications in no less than six different sporting areas including fighting, falling, riding and driving, agility and strength and water!
To begin a career in stunts, you need to be determined, physically fit and willing to put yourself in potentially dangerous situations. The lifestyle though and the stunt performer salary make it worthwhile if this is what you want to do. With the right attitude, approach to networking and commitment to training you could see yourself in the next Hollywood blockbuster in a few years’ time!
What to consider before pursuing a career in stunts – Al Woods