|GET INTO STUNTS: THE ULTIMATE
DIRECTORY AND GUIDE
| THINGS YOU CAN DO TO PREPARE FOR A STUNT CAREER:
If you really, really want it, and you're willing to put in the work,
and you're willing to put in the time, then you WILL MAKE it as a
1. You need to have a never-ending zest for new skills, you need to train
consistently, and you need to network constantly.
2. You need to already have some sort of sports background, such as martial arts,
motorcycle riding, car racing, climbing, gymnastics or trampoline/tumbling, but this
is not absolute.
3. You need to have an 8 X 10 headshot (done by a professional), and a good
resume stating your skills, sports, and accomplishments. You will be handing this
out to stunt coordinators, other stunt performers, and anybody else who might
help you along.
4. It's a good idea to put together a Stunt Demo Video (a short video showing off
your particular skills) and hand that out to stunt coordinators, also. Some stunt
coordinators like these, and some don't - you'll get to know who likes what as you
start to network.
5. Talk to other stuntmen and stuntwomen - don't be shy - get to know everybody
in the stunt business as much as possible. Train with them, go hang out on set with
them, take them out to dinner - anything you do around other stunt people will
further your career.
6. Find out where all the other up-and-coming stunt people are doing their
workouts (is there a gymnastics night that everybody goes to, or a certain dojo
that they all train at, or do they all ride at a local motocross track on a certain day
of the week?) Join them, even if you've never done that particular sport before -
they will welcome you in, and you'll be part of the group in no time, and learning a
new skill, or perfecting an already existing skill.
7. Most importantly, start researching! Get your head into every book out there on
stunts. Learn the "tricks of the trade" by devouring every piece of information
possible. There is nothing more valuable than knowledge, and knowledge is power,
and the stunt industry is one where you need every bit of powerful knowledge in
your arsenal to make yourself a good stunt performer.
BECOMING A STUNT PERFORMER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
What’s the best way to start in stunts?
If you want to become a stuntman or stuntwoman, one of the easiest and quickest
ways to get going is to become a background performer (an Extra), and then you
can see how a film set works, how the actors do their thing, and especially how the
stuntmen and stuntwomen operate (if there is a stunt being performed the day
that you’re working). Being an Extra will also enable you to see (note: I didn’t say
meet) the stunt coordinator, and get an idea how he/she does things. Every stunt
coordinator has their own unique way on set, and it’s good to get to know their
way first, before attempting to meet them.
When can I go from being an extra to being a stunt performer?
When you have been stunt training for a while (see training question below), and
you have been on numerous film sets working as an Extra, and you have
introduced yourself politely (with headshot and resume) to a few stunt
coordinators, then you will probably get upgraded to an SAE position (Special
Ability Extra) at some point. A stunt coordinator will hire you for your unique skill
(unicycle riding, gymnastics, etc.) or sometimes they need you just to ride by on a
bicycle, which isn’t exactly a stunt, but it doesn’t fall into the general Extra
category either. So you get a day working as an SAE performer (it pays more than
being a general Extra, but most importantly, it gets you working for the Stunt
Coordinator for the first time). After a few SAE days for this Stunt Coordinator (ie:
build up trust), they will probably give you a shot at your first real stunt.
What kind of stunt training do I need to be a stunt man / stunt woman?
There are 4 skills that are considered essential to begin your quest into the stunt
industry: 1. gymnastics (or trampoline or high diving) 2. martial arts (or stage
combat training) 3. motorcycle riding / racing (and/or car racing)
4. people skills
Of course, the more stunt skills you have in your arsenal and in your resume, the
better – such as horses, rock climbing, scuba diving, white water, parachuting,
rollerblading, skiing, etc. Also, get as many licenses as possible: street bike,
advanced driving courses, first aid tickets, skydiving certificates, etc… And yes, it
does make an impact if you’re already a champion at some sport (show it off – it
proves that you can handle a high level of competition and are competent under
pressure! This is not necessary to become a stunt performer, though.)
“I’m an awesome motorcycle stunter”, or “I can do car stunts”, or “I won the
World Championships in my martial art”, so shouldn’t it be natural for me to be a
No, you need to be an all-rounder to have a stunt career. And it doesn’t make a
difference how great you are at motorcycle stunts, or if you’re an Olympic gymnast
or not – what matters is how great your “total package” is, and how good you are
with people, too.
Are there stunt schools out there?
Yes, there are many. Some are stunt driving schools, some are aerial stunt schools,
and some are just plain stunt training schools. Check into this VERY carefully, as
there are a lot of fly-by-nights out there, too.
What kind of stunt equipment do I need?
At the very least, as a budding stunt person, you should get some small elbow and
knee pads (usually you can find these at sports consignment shops, in the youth
section – don’t forget to get as small as possible, but still protective, because you’ll
be fitting these under your wardrobe on set, and you can’t have them showing).
Also, for stunt padding, you should grab a set of padded shorts (at bike shops or
martial arts stores), and a back protector (also at motorcycle shops). Later on,
you’ll build up your stunt equipment for different gags like gel for fire stunts, and
helmets for driving stunts, and gymnastics mats and stunt weapons, etc. But start
with the basics – you don’t need to spend much to get going in the stunt business.
Are stunt wages pretty good? How's the stunt pay?
Of course this depends on your commitment, your location, and your years in the
stunt business, etc. but in general, yes – stunt wages are great. An established
stunt professional will make in the six figures, and can sometimes make $10,000
per day even. But there are also a lot of struggling stunt performers out there,
who have to hold down a “normal” job and do stunts on the side, in order to
supplement the dry times. Some make huge money the first year they try, and
others try for decades just trying to make it. Depends how much you want it.
Can I become a stunt coordinator right away?
No, not usually. Most stunt coordinators have put in years as a stunt performer
first, and have garnered the respect and trust of their fellow stunt community and
the various stunt teams, before they are given their first stunt coordinating job.
But it is a natural progression to become a stunt coordinator after being a stunt
man or stunt woman for a while, if one so chooses. Then you can go on to become
a 2nd unit Director, as well (in charge of the Stunt Coordinator and all the stunt
action on a separate unit).
It’s all so overwhelming. Where do I really start?
Read every little bit of information out there on the subject first. Become prepared
first, don’t just leap in there. Get the directory Get Into Stunts. Don’t bug the
stuntmen or stunt coordinators – they hear from newbies every day about how
great they are. Impress them by going in with knowledge and background. Hope
some of this helps! Believe me – I’ve been there – it’s a daunting task trying to
embark on a stunt career choice, and every little bit of info is great. Good luck –
see ya’ in the movies!
GOOD LUCK TO YOU! ORDER GET INTO STUNTS AND START YOUR JOURNEY!
YOU COULD BE A STUNT PERFORMER BY NEXT MONTH, NEXT YEAR, OR MAYBE
NEXT WEEK! THIS IS AN INTERESTING BUSINESS AND THINGS CAN HAPPEN IN A
HEARTBEAT. SEE YOU ON SET!!