Stunt Driving got its start during the Prohibition Era when bootleggers would make illegal whiskey and moonshine deliveries throughout the US. These drivers were notorious for using modified high-speed cars to transport their goods and for using daring driving maneuvers to escape authorities. Drivers would modify their cars for speed, handling, and increased cargo capacity, and most came to love the fast-paced driving down twisty mountain roads. When Prohibition was repealed, the love of aggressive driving and modification spawned the first Stock Car and NASCAR races.
Shortly after, Film and television audiences became infatuated with America’s need for speed. In the 70’s and 80’s, Hollywood developed their version of stunt driving while filming shows like Dukes of Hazzard and films like Bullet with Steve McQueen. This type of driving has tested the limits of vehicles and the skills of drivers for years.
Stunt Drivers are like puppeteers who perform a choreographed dance with their vehicles. Modification and precision control make the vehicles perform in a way they are not designed, yet on camera it looks like a creative, smooth, skilled movement showing off the lines and performance of the car.
To capture the raw adrenaline of these stunts, Hollywood destroys thousands of cars each year. To safely and precisely execute these stunts, drivers train their entire lives. Even the smallest of mistakes by a driver can cost a production thousands of dollars. Car damage, cast/crew overtime and insurance expenses inflate if the driver is not able to get the shot the first or second take. T Minus Productions works with the industry’s best professional race car drivers, stunt drivers, stunt driving teams and precision driving teams. We mix and match to efficiently meet all vehicle sequence needs while saving production money. Our safety record is second to none.
Generation X Drivers
A Stunt Driving Team located in Los Angeles California
Stuntman Ladell Preston hanging in air for Dr. Dre music video
HSI Productions called Stunt Coordinator TJ White for Dr Dre, Snoop Dog, and Akon’s music video “Kush” to do Suspension Wire Rigging late night in Downtown LA. This vision would be spearheaded by talented director Joseph KahnDetention (2011) and Torque (2004). The specific task that T-Minus Productions and Stunt Coordinator TJ White were brought in to do was to design and supervise the creation of a suspension cage that would lie in a marble stairway.
When TJ was asked about how he accomplished this last minute design he stated, “I was working on a helicopter pad on a night shoot for a P Diddy and Usher music video when producers Mary Ann Tanedo, Kathy Angstadt, and UPM Kim Stuckwisch called me to discuss the shot they wanted the following day. The only problem was we could not damage any of the marble on the stairway in the old LA Stock Exchange downtown. I had a couple ideas but could not design it until I saw the location in the early morning. I met with the production team early that next day and took some pictures and started designing the structure that would be able to hang stuntmen from mid air defying gravity. This was a really cool look that the director Joeseph Kahn imagined by freezing people in time while the artist performed around them. To make a long story short I ordered my truss from a good friend Action Theatrical. It was delivered at 4 pm and we built it in 5 hours and were ready to shoot at 9pm that night. This allowed the production to get the video filmed on time and the director to get a killer shot of Dr. Dre walking down the stairs while people floated around him in mid air.”
It takes an experienced stunt coordinator with relationships with vendors , stunt equipment, and stunt riggers to be able to pull off technical jobs like this in a short time. On film sets they would have had to take weeks to prepare for a scene like this. Time and time again projects similar to these constraints have been thrown at T-Minus Productions and at the end of the day they always pull off what would seem unimaginable leaving production companies, directors, and talent happy and continually booking TJ and his crew again.
This film is a play along to give kids the chance to sing and dance along with the characters on screen. In the Los Angeles pre-screening of the film spectators said that it looked like a Jamboree event. The kids were getting out of their seats going to the front of the theater dancing, and singing along to the songs of the film. We have yet to see that in a big budget animation film but it looks like Oogieloves will pave the way in interactive filmmaking for children.
T-Minus Productions and Stunt Coordinator TJ White were brought in to stunt rig the flying aspect of the Oogieloves characters. According to TJ the actors that had to be in costumes were troopers. TJ explains, “Doing suit work myself, it can make you go a little crazy with the heat and claustrophobia. These multi-talented actors and dancers not only spoke, but sang, and danced while doing their own stunts flying in the air.” Doing blue screen work made it easier for the director to film his talent floating in the air then later super imposing them on a flower lifting them through the sky. Stunt wire work has been a big focus in the T-Minus Productions Stunt Department saftey rigging for the last 8 years. With this extensive experience it makes the process effortless for the stunt team to easily assemble any construct in the wire work realm. This is just one of the many expertise’s that T-Minus brings to the table on any project. Whether you are flying a musician, object, or an actor in a fuzzy suit, the end result with this stunt department will make your action pop.
Chris Brown’s music video “She Ain’t You” was brilliantly produced by Riveting Entertainment and was inspired by the late Micheal Jackson. The video was produced by Andrew Listermann of Riveting Entertainment and directed by Colin Tilley. To create and coordinate the stunts was Stunt Coordinator TJ White with T-Minus Productions, along with Stunt Riggers Terry James and SFX Rigger Frank Ceglia. With time and budget constraints it only gave us a couple of options for flying the talent in multiple directions. Usually you would use high speed winches that are controlled by computers making the flying pattern easily repeatable. Despite the limitations we were faced with we decided to use a manual flying system.
This particular flying system used in this video was designed by Sweeny Effects and has been used on such films as Apollo 13. By doing this the director was able to achieve the look as if Chris Brown was floating in the air while he danced. Chris is such a talented and creative dancer that it is no wonder this Grammy Award winning artist was able to incorporate the floating motion of the wires into his dance routine. The video ended up being nominated for Best Dance Performance in the 2011 Soul Train Music Awards. Chris received a lot of applause for his tribute to Michael Jackson in this video. His impeccable choreography is a beautiful rendition of Michael Jackson’s style. With the addition of using wires in the video it gave Chris that extra edge of sass to set off his dance moves.
Chris Brown waiting to fly
Cameras set and ready to shoot with flying system in place
The Foo Fighters have been a creative force in making music videos for almost two decades. Their humor and plot to entertain their audiences crowns them in being one of the most innovative bands in the business. For their music video “Walk”, MTV awarded the Foo Fighters with Best Rock Video at the 2011 Video Music Awards. And just recently the Foo Fighters picked up Five Grammys for their album Wasting Light. Two of those Grammys were specifically for the song “Walk” earning them Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance. To compliment the Foo Fighters vision for this song they enlisted some heavy hitters in the music video making business. “Walk” was produced by Black Dog Films at RSA, directed by famed director and photographer Sam Jones, and produced by mega producer Jil Hardin (Lady Gaga, JLo, Rihanna, Avril Lavigne).
Producer Jil Hardin has worked closely with Stunt Coordinator TJ White and T-Minus Productions for years calling upon them to oversee the stunts for the music videos she produces. It only seemed natural that Jil would call upon TJ and his production company once again to create a dynamic video for the Foo Fighters. TJ remarked, “I have worked with many producers for the past 20 years that I have been in the business, but Jil has been one of the highlights of my career. I’ve worked with her on Destiny’s Child, JLo, and 50 Cent just to name a few”. The development of ideas in this creative video was done by the Foo Fighters and directer Sam Jones. It was inspired by the Michael Douglas’s film Falling Down sprinkled with the Foo Fighters sense of humor. In the video Dave Grohl’s character is supposed to drive a golf cart into a lake on a golf course. Doubling Grohl for this stunt would have been TJ however TJ decided that Grohl could do this stunt on his own and approved Grohl to have at it and add that extra comical flair that he does so well. The fight choreography was put together really quick and the guys were immediately able to catch on and make it look dynamic on file. It is always pleasurable when the talent is as excited to do the action as you are. The whole band would clap after every scene they did stunts in making it enjoyable to work on set with them. The only thing we don’t think we would do again is go with Dave driving the golf cart….just kidding, but did you see him run over his band mate?
TJ White on Foo Fighters Music Video Set
Dave Grohl and Fight Coordinator Kelly Carter on Set
Visual effects have advanced immensely in the last 5 years during physical production and post-production in order to create eye-popping visuals. Ingenuity Engine, a visual effects company in Los Angeles, worked closely with the HSI production company and director Joseph Kahn (Torque, Detention) to achieve these amazing effects. Joseph is known in the industry for working with some of the biggest names in the music realm like Dr. Dre, Eminem, Britney Spears, U2, and Lady Gaga. He is also known as a genius when it comes to visual effects and the proper way to implement them while shooting. This made the partnership with Ingenuity Engine an easy one to produce the look that Kahn envisioned for this 3 Spot Fox Sports NASCAR Commercials that premiered in last years Super Bowl.
These effects are extremely time consuming however working with a talented director such at Joseph Kahn from HSI Production’s Fox Sports – NASCAR “I’m a Fan” commercials made it effortless to achieve the final vision. These action packed scenes were Stunt Coordinated by TJ White from T-Minus Productions and SFX Supervised by Steve Riley “Super 8, Flags Of Our Fathers“.
To create these visual effects it takes the vision of a director and the implementation of the visual effects supervisor, Stunt Coordinator, SFX Supervisor, and 1st Asst. Director. It’s important to have these directors and coordinators to physically organize the talent to move and react to certain ways to achieve what they want when they have their visual effects artists create the action around them on their computers. This process can take sometimes weeks to months depending on how complex the effects are. However long it takes, the value in these effects are priceless when you can get an audible or visual reaction from the audience which is the ultimate satisfaction from any production.
Stunt Driver racing down back lot of Paramount Studios