The Scope Of The Field
If you thrive on action, adventure and risk and love to be in the limelight, perhaps becoming a stuntman (or woman) for television and movies might be the perfect role for you. Many actors and actresses rely on trained stunt people to perform dangerous moves for them, such as jumping from great heights, throwing themselves out of a speeding car or from a burning house, fighting with weapons and performing impressive acrobatic displays.
What It Entails
Filling in as a stunt person for a well-known actor or actress may sound like a glamorous lifestyle. The truth, though, is that performing difficult stunts is very, very hard and can require you to work long days in the most taxing positions and situations. For instance, you may be asked to stay in icy cold water for hours, or to act out a knife fight again and again in the dead heat of the desert. Keep in mind that preparing for such stunts requires much planning and setup, as well as rehearsals and multiple takes in order to get the scene perfect. In addition, you often have to “double” as the actor, so you need to study his style in order to replicate his body language, appearance and mannerisms to make your performance completely believable.
For all of this effort, you aren’t likely to become rich. In fact, stuntmen who are just starting out typically get small paychecks. It is only a small group of people who have carved out a name for themselves in the field that will get compensated much more generously.
Getting The Lay Of The Land
The way stunt performers are hired can vary depending on the set, but in many cases, there is a designated stunt coordinator who oversees the stunt sequences and hires people to fill the roles. Often the movie director is coordinating the filming of a scene in one location, while the stunt takes are filmed separately. Later, the different film is merged together seamlessly so it will look like it all happened at one time and place.
What You Need To Succeed
While some parts of stunt work can be taught, many of the characteristics that make a good stunt performer are ones that you simply cannot learn. This includes great strength, stamina and coordination, which are strengths most stunt performers bring to the table. You also have to have a love of danger and a willingness to take real risks, but in the safest way. In addition, you should keep in mind that raw talent coupled with best training in the field cannot ensure success in this endeavor. You also need a fair amount of luck on your side, as it can be difficult to break into doing professional stunts and getting enough steady work to turn this passion into a lucrative career.