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.


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