How to get into Stunts?
First up, you need to live in a city where this is even possible. In the USA, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta and Albuquerque. Canada would be Toronto and Vancouver. Europe is a whole other deal, they have a long process to become part of their stunt union. I don’t know exactly what it is called. They have a good system, but I have no idea how to start there.
You have to become SAG-AFTRA to be taken seriously and to be able to work on any major movie or TV show. Its a long and often difficult process that takes years. Just google, how to become SAG.
You need to be willing to dedicate your life to becoming successful at doing stunts, it can take 4-5 years of practice, networking and scrapping by. That is on the normal end, sometimes longer. When you break that down, it can be very long periods of time where nothing happens and the end goal seems absolutely hopeless. You will need to do things for free, helping out, creating on your own and sometimes being someone’s “bitch” for lack of a better term, by moving pads or cleaning trailers. That is part of learning and getting to know the process and network with the people that can eventually help you.
You are not special… It can be a bit like Fight Club. If you can jump straight up in the air and do 3 backflips and land on your feet, I don’t care. I can get a person that I like and get a long with, put them on a wire and they can do that. Or I will do it in cuts. Having a good personality, being helpful and heads up goes a long way.
You can teach talent, you can’t teach heart… You have to have that toughness that you probably learned in sports when you were young. If you haven’t, do something else.
Its all good.
Its not all its cracked up to be… Truth is, you do a ton of absolute nothing. Due to the system, you will be called in to set, 8 hours before they need you to do anything at all. They give two fucks about your time, they want you there so they aren’t waiting on you. They are never running early however and typically don’t manage their time well. This is the production as a whole and has nothing to due with the Stunt Coordinator. You are not the SWAT team that shows up high fives everyone, walks right to set, fights Tom Cruise and then its Miller Time… That is a dream and is bull shit. You will show up at 6am to set, to get an uncomfortable wig put on, and then will proceed to sit and shoot the shit with random people for HOURS… Then at probably the last shot of the day, which is 12 hours later. They will be running late and will probably rush you into smashing through a window for example. You will do that once and better get it right. So your moment of glory is usually quite quick. However it lives on forever on film!! I personally just don’t want to sugarcoat this industry one bit… However, I absolutely love what I do and when I get to shine, it worth all the long hours, sitting around in the hot, the dirt, the freezing, the all nighters. You have to LOVE this, or you will not make it. I just don’t want you to waste your time or the time of others.
There is no STUNT SCHOOL!! Of course there are places out there that will take upwards of $3,000 to teach you stunts. This craft is just like any other, you can not learn something this complex in a weekend, a week or even a year. Now, if you have the money to burn, sure feel free to get started there. They will have good info and its ok to get a overall snapshot of what is needed. I personally wouldn’t put it on my resume, it won’t help. Now take a second and look at it this way… How many boxing / martial art/ gymnastics / acting classes can you take with that money??? Lets say class is $200 a month for twice a week. You will get 15 months of training!!! That will translate well into stunt work.
Do all those classes mean I can film fight??? No… this is a base, so you have some sort of skill for when you link up with people that train in film fighting. The only place to truly learn how to film fight well, is from others that do it well. I would find your local gym where stunt people train, go work out, network. Hit the hand pads, trick on the floor, you will meet people and just be honest about where you are at and what you are trying to do.
TRAINING: in LA, JAM (Joining All Movement), Tempest Freerunning Gym. In NY, place called “The Brooklyn Zoo”, its a gym not a zoo. In Atlanta, place called Smash.
Acting Class: It is definitely not a bad idea… I’ve done it. Do I still, no I don’t. I think its good to take class for 6 months like it or not and get a feel for it. You will be acting, before you get shot, punched, hit by a car.
What martial arts should you take?? So boxing or MMA, if perfect for getting your footwork down and becoming precise with your punches. Yes the punches on film are different, but you get an understanding of how long your arm is and the distance you can cover with boxing. Having control is very valuable. I also recommend Kali and / or Jeet Kun Do, for the footwork yet again, and the work with weapons and hand trapping / blocks. I’ve done all of that personally, it translates great into a sword and shield, or Bourne like fighting.
Excellent Stunt Driving School: Rick Seaman's Driving School
Watch the movie “HOOPER”… it is a movie about stuntmen and is still very relevant
How did I get started in Stunts?
Went to college and started working a fairly normal job on the computer. Did that for a few years, the monotony of it eventually got to me. Became sick of the same problems just different project, exact same desk, exact same day, every damn day. Felt like I would wake up one day and be 65 and had always been doing the exact same thing. That was terrifying. Got to the point it was time to do something different. I came to the conclusion that I should do something I truly loved. After a lot of thought I began to look into the film industry and how to become a stuntman. Never wanted to be an actor, literally only had interest in doing stunts.
Then I began the process of trying out things, went and did a student film to get a taste of what it would be like. Had a bottle smashed on my head and got to punch someone. I was hooked. I kept working and started taking acting class and boxing classes. Went to Philly to work on a movie as a Extra, got super lucky and became SAG Eligible. Very rare. I did nothing special for that. So I knew I could move to LA and could become SAG when needed. So that is what I did. I got a job in LA just doing computer work and started paying the bills. After a lot of classes for acting, film fighting, sword fighting and finding some stuntmen to link up with and train other things. That included, high falls, air rams, fire, gun training and film fighting. All from different people. I started to slowly build footage, gain skills and meet people. The first guy to ever give me a shot on a real show, I’ll of course never forget. I had to run between two cars and a cop comes out of nowhere and close lines me. I fly up in the air and “flat back it” right to the concrete… Hurt like fuck. Hoped up they were like good job, going again. I proceeded to do it about 7 times. A couple I think were the Stunt Coordinator just asking for another to show me the ropes. And I love him for it… I walked out of there honestly wondering if this was what I wanted, I was beat down. Got home rubbed some beer on it and was like, I’m going to get better at this and I now understand what I’m signing up for!!
It took me many years of very small but significant steps that would slowly build on each other. First year I worked maybe 4 days as a stuntman. By year 2 I was up to around one day a month. Year 3 was getting Mayne 3-4 days a month, still working other jobs. Toward the end of that year I got onto The Last Airbender, did 3 months!! Felt like I hit the lotto. Got back and did nothing for a while. Finally in the 4th year I got a break stunt doubling Chris O’Donnell on NCIS: Los Angeles… I was off and running, paying the bills and just being a stuntman. I ended up doubling him for 7 years. During that time I knew I wanted to be a Stunt Coordinator one day. The catch 22, no one will let you Stunt Coordinate, unless you have Stunt Coordinated before.
So I proceeded to contact some of these hot shots on YouTube, making COD shorts, with crap stunts in them haha. Those dudes were the Freddiew channel. Contacted them and went to prove I provide awesome action. I came through and we proceeded to make many many shorts where I was Stunt Coordinating them and sometimes performing for them.
One of the first:
One of my favorites (I'm the guy in the white mask)
That success lead into Video Game High School, which ran for 3 Seasons. Then Dimension 404 and Rocket Jump the Show. I was also Coordinating many other things while also being and stunt performer for other shows. Then the Stunt Coordinator of Daredevil asked me to come be the Assistant Stunt Coordinator for Daredevil Season 2. I jumped at the chance of course and went to NY. During that show we needed a Stunt Double for Jon Bernthal. I just happen to be the closet option and the best fighter. So I ran double duty for that show. And will forever love the man that gave me that opportunity!!
Yep thats me...
I continue to double Jon Bernthal, although I took a break from that role to Stunt Coordinate The Punisher Season 2. Had the chance to 2 Unit Direct a couple of episodes on that season which was amazing.
There are many shows I have missed, I am of course super proud to be a very small part of Avengers: Endgame! That being said I hope I have answered so many of the awesome messages and questions I have got on Instagram. You can check out the other shows I have been part of on my IMDB page