Becoming a Professional Stunt Performer
People can watch films like Die Hard, Rambo or even MTV shows like “Jackass” or “Nitro Circus” and think they have what it takes to become a Professional Stunt Performer. The truth of the matter is that there is no easy way to get into the business. Stunt performers spend most of the time and energy training just for the chance to be able to perform these jaw dropping stunts. It takes years of training either in horses, racing cars, gymnastics, free running, Mix Martial Arts, acting, and stunt training from experienced stunt performers and stunt coordinators.
If you ask your self, How do i get in the business? Well, the first thing is to start training. Get into a gym and work on your flexibility, core strength, balance, and agility. There are many gyms in Los Angeles that focus on Stunt Training like: White Lotus, XMA, Valley College open gymnastic night, and Bob Yerkes Circus Productions. There are also Stunt Schools that you can attend around the United States that you can get your basic stunt training to acquire the skills needed to start out.
Also note that training does not stop when you start working on projects, it is just the beginning. Directors, Producers, and Stunt Coordinators create all types of different stunt sequences for films, television, commercials, and music videos that are impossible to train for if they are new innovative stunts. As massive as their imagination allows them to dream, those skills required to perform those stunts get greater and greater.
After you begin your stunt training do not think that this is the time to start sending your headshot out to Production, and Stunt Coordinators to get a job. The first step should be trying to get a job in a stunt show at Disney, Knotts Berry Farm, Universal Studios, or even Six Flags. It is here you will grab hold of great stunt training and meet some of the upcoming stunt performers in the business. Many of the top Stunt Coordinators and Stunt performers in the business today started out in live stunt shows spanning all over the world. Some even continue to perform at these live stunt shows to sharpen their skills and exposure.
Another avenue to go is to start working as an extra in TV, and Film projects. This will educate you on the way a set works, the hierarchy, know who’s who, and what to do and what not to do.
Think of a Stunt Performer as an athlete. You must take care of your body through nutrition, exercise, and prepare mentally. You will need all your senses to be sharp, for your reflexes and strength may very well save your life. There is a reason production does not allow their actors to do most of there own stunts. It is because with an injured actor you are not able to continue your project causing delays. That is why production companies hire a Stunt Coordinator to find a skilled Stunt Performer to stand-in for actors. Sometimes even the stunt performer that is trained get injured. Then production will have to find a replacement for them. So the key here is to train so you can pull off the gag with no injury and as least amount of takes as possible.
So after reading this, if you still have the heart and audacity to want to become a Professional Stunt Performer, then go out there and start training. Who knows, with due time you may just be the next Hollywood Stunt Coordinator.