Stunt Driver Chris Nielsen Crashing through Plate Glass
When planning a car stunt, Directors, Producers, and Production Designers utilize the expertise of a Stunt Coordinator, Action director or 2nd Unit Director to guide them. Many people have seen the Ken Block drifting videos or the high octane stunt driving in Need for Speed or Fast and the Furious Franchises. But being able to have these cars perform like they do in those action scenes takes months of prep. Just like this Subaru car that has been modified before it came to the testing site at Willow Springs raceway to test. Even with the added modification from the owner of this vehicle, it took additional modification to make the car do what it needed to do for this particular commercial. You have to remember the cars used in the big drifting videos and films have hundreds of thousands of dollars in modification to perform these dynamic stunts.
Testing is a very important step for a Stunt team to prep a car. It comes down to the type of tires you use, the air pressure, the temperature of the environment, the horse power of the vehicle, and the breaking system. To have the vehicle dance around like a ballerina on the asphalt takes preparation, time, and experience. A Stunt driver must have the proper breaking system in the car. This breaking system has to be installed by qualified car prep riggers. During testing and even on the day of the shoot there are adjustments that are always made to tweak the car to be able to do the action the director requires. This is when you need your car prep to be savvy, efficient, and knowledgable. These systems can be well over $2500.00 for just one car.
When looking for a vehicle to use in these exciting action scenes contact a qualified Stunt Coordinator to assist you in prepping and choosing the right vehicle. This will save you time and money on the day of shoot. There is nothing worse then getting to set and not getting what the director wants while shooting. It also takes a qualified experienced Stunt Driver to perform the stunt driving.
For those that watch the highly successful AMC series MADMEN can see the evolution of advertising over the last couple decades. From new media to perception of a product, people have many ways to be aware of a product or service. These same products have many ways to access their audience whether it’s through Television, Films, Internet , social media, mobile devices or the almost obsolete print advertising. Advertising agencies are trying to stream line their advertising dollars and get the most impressions per ad campaign for the least amount of money.
One of these ways is through the internet. They call Hollywood to produce a Commercial or Video that they can put on Video platforms like YouTube or Vimeo. Using a platform like these enable the agency to view analytics of where their campaign is being viewed and in what market. Using these platforms allows the general public to share these videos on other platforms like Facebook, Tumbler, Twitter, Pintrest, or Instagram. This sometimes takes a life of it’s own and makes the video go viral, which means its viewed by millions of people.
The gaming industry understands impressions and hits and is in on the “Hidden Camera” Viral Video craze. The popular Ubisoft game, “Watch Dogs”, has just done it again using Los Angeles based production company Lifeboat Productions to produce an Ashton Kutcher inspired Punk’d gag on the streets of Downtown LA. One element the creative and production team knew from the start was to get a great reaction from the “Mark”, you would have to do something over the top. Using Special Effects blowing up lights and transformers really get the Prankee invested in the scene. To take it over the top you have to really take them out of their comfort zone and shock them. This was done by making them believe they caused a car accident in the middle of a busy intersection Downtown LA.
LifeBoat Productions contacted Los Angeles based Stunt Design Company T-Minus Productions to oversee the action. Safety is always the first priority when doing a live stunt in front of unsuspecting participants. This increases the danger of the stunt. It takes precise timing and planning out every step to do this safe and make it look authentic. Using qualified and experienced Stunt Coordinators helps production achieve this seamlessly.
This particular video went viral within hours and has had over 12.1 million views on youtube in 2 weeks of it release. With the right creative content, excellent execution, and of course High Octane Live Action Stunts, you will get millions of views. See what all the fuss was about in the video below.
Action Director, Xavier Gens “Hitman” and the “Divide” brings action and comedy to this funny commercial for French cable company Numeri Cable. Director Xavier Gens used very stylized camera shots which was coordinated along with wire work. He brings the viewer inside the world of big action movies in this commercial. Using creative lighting and highly skilled Stunt performers and T Minus Stunt Rigging Inc. to wire the crew, the end results in a sharp, high-res, almost first person video game commercial.
Working on Reality Projects like “Bad Grandpa” or “Punked” takes a skilled crew to perform complicated pranks. On her latest video Katy Perry, Music Video Director Marc Klasfeld, Producer Dawn Rose, and EMI’s SVP of Video Production, designed the perfect prank. Katy Perry used SFX prosthetic’s, makeup, outlandish costumes, and colorful character backgrounds in order to transform her into the different roles. The pranks were pulled on various kid birthday parties, a bar mitzvah, and even on innocent residents of a retirement home.
HardRock Films Producer Dawn Rose contacted Stunt Coordinator TJ White to oversee the safety and choreograph the stunt in this top secret video. Using a SFX crew from Christopher Nolan’s latest Batman Films and local Stuntmen in LA, TJ was able to mix the stuntmen in with the regular party patrons not tipping off a single bystander. TJ’s Stunt Riggers prepped the Stunt Cars for Stunt Driver Terry James to run his vehicle into a parked car causing complete chaos amongst the party goers. While the innocent bystanders thought Katy triggered the accident it was all pre-planned out weeks before to insure that safety was taken care of as well as the element of surprise.
Many factors go into pranks and stunts. The unknown is simply what others who are not in on the gag will do. TJ Says, “I have to prep the crew and my stunt safety to manage the crowd so that if a bystander gets into the danger zone then my Stunt Safety can simply direct them somewhere else without blowing the stunt prank”. This isn’t the first time a prank has been pulled like this, and with the video already having 10.8 million views to date, it is likely this type of stunts won’t be going away. Take a look at the Pop Princess’s “Birthday” music video after the jump.
You don’t have to look far in this music video to see high octane drifting in the the desert salt flats near Las Vegas. Using a 2014 Dodge Challenger RT8 with tons of horse power makes it easy for Stunt Coordinator and Stunt Driver TJ White to slide sideways every degree possible. Creating effortless swerves and 360′s, TJ gives the Director and the DP usable shots that makes this video dream worthy for every future Dodge Challenger owner. Of course this particular Challenger is Stunt prepped for stunt driving which isn’t something you can normally just drive off the lot.
Barreling around the desert at dusk, this Challenger swooped up every piece of dirt possible coating this black beauty with a fine line of Death Valley’s greatest.
View ‘We Are The In Crowd’s’ video for “The Best Thing (That Never Happened)”.
Speeding through the canyons in Malibu using two vintage 1970′s Ferrari and Porsche two seaters can be exciting and also a dangerous. For their hit song, “We’ll Be Coming Back”, Calvin Harris and UK artist Element made the swirly roads a great backdrop for this high octane stunt racing story. Stunt Coordinator and Stunt Driver TJ White stood in for Element for the intense high speed driving, while Stunt Drivers Chris Nielsen and Mike Owen took the reigns on doubling for Calvin. The director used the Z-Crane Camera Car system to shoot the car-to-car action helping him achieve really low shots, much like in the “Fast and the Furious” films.
Take a peak at the action in the music video that has already been viewed 3.6 Million times.
DJ Calvin Harris and Stunt Drivers TJ White & Mike Owen
On the set with Stunt Drivers TJ White and Chris Nielsen
Skiing a car on two wheels is a very rare and skilled stunt to perform. The stunt performers that do this use specialized ramps and uniquely prepped vehicles in order to execute this gag. It’s such an astonishing thing to see a vehicle on only 2 wheels which is why we are called upon constantly by Ad agencies and marketing firms to integrate this type of stunt into their campaign.
Motocross has been around since the early 1900′s starting in the UK. Races were popping up all over the world with various countries pitting their team up for stardom. Finally making it to the US in the 1960′s the sport was vastly changing with new tweaks to the bikes suspension and frames. When the 90′s hit, sub categories for Motocross were being created such as supercross, arenacross, supermoto, and freestyle motocross. Many BMX riders turn Freestyle motocross or FMX riders. In 1993 Bob Kohl was the first FMX rider to perform successfully the “Holy Grail” of motocross stunts at that time, which was the infamous backflip. From there riders have been pushing the limits. But let’s step back a few decades, Freestyle Motocross arguably started back in
1963 when famed stuntman Bud Ekins doubled Steve McQueen in The Great Escape. At that time this type of stunt was mind blowing. Jumping a bike over a 6ft tall barbed wire fence hadn’t been done before. What made it even more challenging was Ekins had to do it on a Triumph TR6 Trophy 650cc motorcycle which is a hefty 400 pounds. This is quite the feat which makes it one of the most memorable motorcycle stunts in history and pushes Bud Ekins further into stunt fame. While men like Bob Kohl, Carey Hart, Travis Pastrana, Brian Deegan, Mike Metzger, Caleb Wyatt, and a flurry of others have all pushed the limits of their bikes and body, their inspiration may have very well been the work of Bud Ekins.
It is no wonder this sport has gained a worldwide mainstream audience. It is death defying, loud, extreme, and if the tricks are pulled off safely then the payoff is superbly glorious. Live stunt shows like the ones that Metal Mulisha puts on are packed with hundreds of thousands of people. The marketing and broadcasting of these events alone are entertaining for audiences and even more profitable for sponsors. Executives of corporate events, company grand openings, product launches, expos, and many more unlikely events are tracking down these motocross individuals to perform these shows for their clients. The increase of live stunt shows involving these talented motocross riders has exponentially jumped. Freestyle Stunt Companies come fully equipment with their dirt-bikes, ramps, and the personnel to run the show. This plug and play system allows for a fast set up and breakdown for a day event or even a week long event.
These highly skilled motocross riders sometimes start BMX riding, then move into supercross riding professionally for years before moving into their freestyle work. These riders are constantly evolving their tricks. The oohs and aahs of a crowd watching a stunt rider fly off a ramp doing their favorite tricks such a no footer, suicide can, hart attack, or even a Superman is enough that these motocross shows are one of the most requested events that Stunt Coordinators are asked to organize. FMX has been influencing entertainment from films like the Great Escape to the most recent Bourne Legacy, to TV shows like Nitro Circus, even music videos like P Diddy’s ‘Bad Boys For Life’ cameo’d motocross with many videos since then including the sport, to world wide events like the X games. This sport is enrapturing itself in entertainment like never before. These riders and machines are evolving like the industry making the stunts they perform unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
Directors have always been a progression for writers, cameramen, writers and producers. It has changed over the years from more stunt coordinators turning to direct second unit. This was a production unit that usually was the action unit but now most studios and production companies see that using another unit to shoot simultaneously with your primary talent helps the project not only be more efficient but enables the production to get more content.
One of today’s most legendary stuntmen and stunt coordinators Hal Needham best known for directing the Smokey and the Bandit franchise, The Cannon Ball Run franchise, Stroker Ace, and Rad is one of the first to break the barrrier. Since then many more stuntmen have made that jump such as 2nd Unit Director David Ellis best know for 2nd Unit directing Waterworld, Matrix Relaoded and The Perfect Storm. David has also has had success directing two Final Destination films, Snakes on the Plane starring Samuel L Jackson, and Shark Night 3D. He has used his years of experience performing and coordinating stunts to direct action sequences in a story telling way.
TV is also an avenue for Stunt Coordinators to enter into the directing route like Stunt coordinator David Barrett. David has directed hunreds of hours of TV like E-Ring, Cold Case, 90210, and NCIS-LA. Emmett/Furla Films just released David feature film directorial debut Fire with Fire staring Josh Duhamel, Bruce Willis and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson.
Another Stunt family turned directors has been the waugh family. There father Fred Waugh stunt coordinator for the Amazing Spider-man 1978, Swat 1978, and Hart to Hart. One son Ric Roman Waugh director of Felon starting Val Kilmer and coming to theaters soon Snitch starring Dwayne Johnson. The other son Scott Waugh co-directed with fellow stuntman Mike McCoy Act of Valor through there production company Bandito Brothers. Scott is currently in pre-production on his next film Need for Speed that Electronic Arts and Dreamworks SKG are producing.
Another Stunt Coordinator been know for directing 2nd unit for the Bourne Franchise is Dan Bradley. Dan Brandley has been a stunt coordinator for such films as Indepence Day, 3 Kings, Spider-man 2 and 3, and Jackass: The Movie. Moving into directing first unit was the only logical choice for Dan choicing Red Dawn in theaters now produced by MGM and Contrafilm.
When you add an element such as Fire to any stunt you need to be cautious, patient, and confident. TJ White has coordinated many fire stunts which is why DNA productions asked him to stunt coordinate David Guetta’s latest video “Just One Last Time” featuring Taped. In this video the stunt doubles were asked to crash through walls while fire was engulfed around them and then be wired to fall out of a window.
Being the wire work master is another reason why TJ was the stunt coordinator for the job. In this particular video he also felt confident for the actor to do a little of the work as well which made for a believable and exciting stunt sequence. However once the heat was turned on TJ, his stunt doubles, and stunt riggers prepared for safety with gel, hoses, retardant, and pads. When camera stopped rolling this stunt came out to be seamless and effortless. Take a look at the video and see how stunts can be weaved in with practical in a way that keeps you the viewer moved.