The Dangers of Being a Stunt Performer

The Dangers of Being a Stunt Performer

Movie Stuntman
Aren’t stunt performers the greatest?

Have you ever seen an amazing stunt in a movie and thought to yourself, “The guy that did that has to be the coolest person on the planet. I wish I could do that.”? I know that I have. There’s just something about an amazing stunt performed well that gets the blood pumping and your adrenaline flowing. Just imagine the increase of that feeling if you were the person performing the stunt yourself. Wouldn’t that make you the coolest person on the planet? You could be just as cool as Fonzie from Happy Days without going to the ridiculous extremes of jumping over a shark.

Wait just a minute. Those stunts are dangerous!

Sure the stunts are exhilarating, and impress both men and women, but there are so many things that can go wrong when you perform a stunt, especially when you have no idea how to perform those stunts-remember that you haven’t had any training yet, so you would have to take care of that first. Stunt performers have hours of experience working on setting up stunt situations as well as how to perform them safely. Can you imagine jumping off the top of a large building? I know that there is safety equipment and other protections, but it is difficult to take that last step. Imagine driving a car into a wall on purpose or setting yourself on fire. These are dangerous situations that could kill you. You need to be aware of all the possible ways that you could be injured or worse.

Look at Jackie Chan as an example!

Jackie Chan has made a living starring in Kung Fu style movies and as a stunt man, but he also takes care of all of his own stunts. Sliding down a building or climbing and jumping up a steep wall are all ways that he has put himself at risk. He broke his leg once jumping from a boat and finished the movie is a special cast. He fractured his skull jumping from a tree. Even with all of these injuries, and many many more, he has continued to take care of his own stunts risking his life to add to the authenticity and excitement of the role he is playing. He has learned much from his experiences, and you certainly haven’t.

In the stunt performer world, a stunt is never big enough!

Did you ever set up a simple bike ramp as a kid? I did with just a concrete block and an old board that I found laying around someplace. I felt like a star the first time I jumped off of it without falling off my bike, but after I showed a friend of mine and he tried it, the jump didn’t seem as impressive. So I tried to make the set up more impressive. Another block under the board and a longer run to build up speed. But no matter how much I added to the jump, someone else was always able to match me. Consider the life of Evel Knievel, one of the best known stunt jumpers of all time. Because he was fearless in the face of challenges, he continued to take on larger challenges. He even joked about one day jumping over the Grand Canyon, but that was one stunt jump that he chose not to make. Evel Knievel didn’t make all of his jumps, and had the injuries to prove it.

In the world of performing stunts, you either nail it or you suffer the consequences.

When you set up a stunt, you have to consider all the possible outcomes your mind can envision, but you can’t see all the possibilities. You can set up safety mats and cushions, you can create harnesses to reduce your motion and make sure that your fire protection suit is set for flames with no openings to keep you protected, but there is always something that could go wrong. Consider the former WWE wrestler, Owen Hart. He had practiced and planned for to repel from the rafters of an event at an auditorium. This was a stunt that he had done in the past as well, but one night, something went wrong and he fell from the rafters and died. That could be your fate as well if you are a stunt performer for a living.

Don’t try this at home!

Consider the dangers of being a stunt performer the next time that you want to try your own stunts and rather than take the risk, sit down, put some kernels in your popcorn popper machine, pour some melted salted butter over it, get comfy on the couch and watch a Jackie Chan movie. Or look up an Evel Knievel jump on YouTube knowing that he is putting his own life at risk so that you don’t have to. This certainly is a lot safer and will keep you alive – and without broken bones – a lot longer than doing stunts will.

Interesting Things You’ll Find On A Movie Set

Interesting Things You’ll Find On A Movie Set

On a movie set, there’s a lot more going on than just the scene that’s being shot. From the green screen, to the props, to the presence of hundreds, even thousands, of extras, there are several fascinating aspects to virtually any movie set.

If you ever find yourself lucky enough to be on the set of a movie, even a low-budget film, there are several interesting things that you are going to want to look for.

The Green Screen

The opportunities of the green screen are incredible. The idea that you can have actors and objects moving across a blank screen, which later transpires to have dragons, city scapes- you name it, in entirely believable and seamless unity with the “real life” objects, structures and actors boggle the mind.

Green screen technology is only getting better, but the humour of how it looks, and the creativity and the adaptability of the actors and producers while working in front of and with the screen, is not something we get to see in the film. Occasionally, you can find behind-the-scenes footage that will show you how ridiculous this can look. It’s a testament to the truly great actors who can make you believe that whatever you’re seeing on screen is what they were seeing at the time the film was shot.

You see people dancing with green props, which, when computerised makes sense as an animal or mythical being, for example, but seeing a compelling and sometimes romantic dance with a green broom is something you should behold, at some point. You can also see people in green suits coming in to help “swoosh” the hair of an actor during a particularly blustery scene.

The Props

The props cupboard and props generally around a movie set are a cacophony of strange and exciting things.

Some, specially made for the in-production movie or previous movies are lying about or stored for use, such as believable guns and knives, for instance, but other ones such as robotic dogs, false limbs and heads are as much in abandon. Props can sometimes be created by accident. Other props are seemingly simple at the time of their creation, only to become extremely popular with fans. Some props become so famous, people recreate them. Think of the light sabers from Star Wars.

In fact, many props used in Hollywood, in particular, will appear in more than one film, others get auctioned to a unique array of characters that buy things like the David Hasselhoff boat from the Spongebob Squarepants movie. People are simply fantastic. You can find many famous movie props in restaurants like Planet Hollywood. There are also a number of film museums that feature some of the most iconic movie props in cinema history.

The Runner

The runner is an interesting being, kind of like an odd-job chameleon. The runner will do and can do almost everything, even if they’re not sure, they will be willing to learn. Many believe runners to be born with several more hands as they adopt a few hundred jobs at once on set.

On big movie sets, if you have a keen eye, you can often see them scuttling with an array of coffees and teas, they will also help with smaller production roles, extra fill ins and prop runs.

The Extras

The extras are a great bunch. Some are caught nervously trying not to get in the way of anyone, and usually confused as they got a call 30 minutes ago telling them to get to set and dress for a film based in the 18th century. More seasoned extras move about the set like they are Adam Sandler, they know everyone, and they are definitely ready for their pivotal cameo as they waltz past the leading actor.

For someone that enjoys people watching, movie-set extras are the crème de la crème group to sit and watch for the day. The way they nervously adapt to their positions and roles with the total enthusiasm of an A-list movie star is heartening, as well as seeing the relationships they form with the other extras and the conversations of their various cameos they’ve been in over the years.

Many famous actors got their start by working as a stunt performer or an extra. This isn’t lost on some people who turn out to be extras in one film after another, although many simply enjoy the experience of being an extra for what it is. You can find several famous, even strange examples of then-unknown actors popping up for a moment in one movie or another. One interesting example to check out is from the famous 1982 Paul Newman movie The Verdict. Watch closely in the final courtroom scene. Among the extras jurors, you can find Bruce Willis (Die Hard) and Tobin Bell (Jigsaw from the Saw movies) sitting very close to one another!