MTV VMA 2015 nominated Kendrick Lamar’s latest music video “Alright” filmed mostly in San Fransisco and Oakland California and parts of Los Angeles has gotten over 16 million views on a little over a month. This visual piece is from the uber talented director Colin Tilly “Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, Enrique Iglesias, Little Wayne” from London Alley a Music Video production company in la. Colin decided to go to his root in Oakland and create visual art that could capture Kenricks voice in the video. Putting Kendrick in very dangerous stops was done by using his Stunt Coordinator “TJ White” that he has worked with for years on such video as Chris Brown, Justin Beiber and David Guetta.
TJ stated ” Working with Colin is challenging , He likes very dangerous shots that makes people think the stunt is fake or that we are not using the real artist, but in fact it is so real that many safety parameters have to be put in place to make it happen. In this video you will see the artist Kendrick Lamar on top of two light pole 2o feet plus in the air standing rapping. This is done through using cranes and specialized stunt equipments and a crane. It takes a team of stunt riggers to set up these gags so that the director will be able to shoot almost 360 degrees around the artist and keep the artist safe.
Colin also really wanted to see some high performance stunt driving in the video to capture the feel of this area and there car culture. This was done by using cars that were altered for drifting and having qualified stunt drivers for Los Angeles in San Fransisco to do the driving.
Fire is one of the most dangerous stunts people can do infront of the camera. Fire is unpredicable and the tempature and fumes can be deadly. No one should attempt to work with any type of fire without a professional.
In the Yogi and Skrillex music video there was to be a dancer in the ground dancing when someone throws a match out to ignite the dancer on fire. This was done in the middle of day in the middle of a blocked off street. It takes up to an hour to prep a person for a fire burn and uses a specific recipe of fuel for each burn. This particular burn was without air , meaning the stuntman “Hank Kingi” had to hold his breath the how time on fire.
Stunt Drivers take years of experience to get in the car and drive a car. There are many terms used for a Stunt Driver. Precision Drivers, Performance Drivers, Stunt Drivers just to name a few.
They are also background drivers and these specific drivers do not have the training or skill set to drive in front of camera as a principle. These are drivers that drive in the background of a shot on driving scenes. These drivers are extra or background drivers or even called extra precision drivers. They drive everyday vehicles to fill a frame. These drivers should never be upgraded to be a precision driver unless a qualified stunt coordinator or Driving coordinator is on-set to supervise and has OK’d the driver and their ability. These are not stunt drivers nor are they precision drivers.
Working with Sevyn Streeter ft. Chris Brown “Don’t Kill The Fun” we were driving expensive cars like Ferrari and Lamborghini at high rates of speed in a tight area. This can make a director and producer very nervous. This is when experience takes over and hiring the right experienced stunt coordinator and stunt drivers for the job is a producers best option for a safe and exciting shoot. It could take 5-10 years of stunt driving for a stuntman or stunt women to get a chance to drive on screen. Stunt Coordinators do not let inexperienced people get behind the wheel. There is a lot to learn about cars and the technology that drives them.
Stunt Drivers rely heavily on the transportation department of a project to prep the car for them to drive. The right tire pressure, tires, breaking system, engine torque and suspension of a car will help the driver perform the stunt that the director wants.
When using very expensive fast cars, a lot goes into the prep of the car. Usually the stunt coordinator is in total communication with the manufacture of the cars. These cars are like fast computers on wheels. What you must realize is that new and luxurious cars don’t come off the lot being able to do 360’s, power slides, and drifting around corners. They must be De-programmed to shut off various traction controls, and safety parameters that are normally put in place for the daily driver. But if you want high speed action and stimulating stunt driving?, then you’ll need the proper mechanic that knows the specific vehicle. Car prep is vital and sometimes overlooked on the production side. Our Stunt coordinators work closely with car prep companies in order to tailor the vehicle to match the shots wanted by the director and producers. Safety is always top priority, and while stunt driving is one of the gags often requested, make sure your production hires the right stunt coordinator so then he or she can hire the best qualified stunt drivers. Your insurance will thank you and you’ll minimize your risk.
Stunt Driver Alyma Dorsey on set of Sevyn Streeter ft. Chris Brown “Don’t Kill The Fun”
TJ White Stunt Coordinator on set of Riveting Entertainment Music Video
Stunt Driver Chris Nielsen Testing a 2013 Hot-wheels Ford Mustang from Galpin Motor Sports for a Justin Bieber “Boyfriend’ Music Video
Riveting Entertainment and Director Richard Shepard (“The Matador”, “Ugly Betty”, “Girls”) had a vision for this video that had high expectations and a dangerous situation for 5 members of the band “Bleachers”. Using Director of Photography Morgan Susser (“Paramore”, “Linkin Park”, “Christina Aguilera”) and his dynamic sense of space and color, production was able to capture the band in a vulnerable state. Using the ZCrane Camera Car they were able to shoot the band on top of an Ice Cream Truck driving down the road in a desert setting outside Los Angeles while playing their instruments.
Director Richard Shepard knew his budget restraints when it came to filming a big action driving scene with talent. This would normally be shot on green screen or a process trailer. But Richard was adamant to have his band on the top of the ice cream truck driving down the road. To achieve this an experienced stunt coordinator and stunt rigging coordinator is needed to pick the right vehicle , fabricate it, reinforce it to be able to hold 5 people on the roof, while being able to hold them in place while driving down the road.
T-Minus Stunt Rigging , and Stunt CoordinatorTJ White from T Minus Productions worked closely with producer Andrew Listermann and Riveting Entertainment. T-Minus was called in to design the rigging and safety for this video. Two days of design and fabrication was needed to satisfy the safety concerns of the stunt coordinator and stunt riggers. Once this was done the Stunt riggers wired in the band to the roof while they were wearing custom designed stunt harnesses much like the ones used for Cirque Du Soleil. These special harnesses helped keep the talent safe while being comfortable.
This video was shot in one day making it essential to use a precision camera car like the Z Crane Camera Car, which has a gyrostabilized remote system driven with a Mercedes ML 55. This system is driven by Founder Ross Jordan (“Wanted”, “Live Free Die Hard”, “Iron man”) who is a very experienced camera car driver, race car driver and stunt driver.
See All The Action Below In the “Bleachers” music video “Roller Coaster”.
“Bleachers” band waiting to start filming
The “Bleachers” trying stay cool on set
Stunt Rigger Terry James setting up for the stunt. Behind The Scenes safety work needed to keep the band safe.
Working a live stunt show has it own set of dangers, but The Blue Man Group, known for their awestruck behavior, wanted to add danger to their set. Closing out the concert season at the Hollywood Bowl The Blue Man Group, one of the most successful live shows in the world, decided to add an exponential stunt to their show. The creative team at the Blue Man Group contacted T-Minus Productions to design and create a stunt that would not only be dangerous but have the audience believe that they would be dropping their orchestra conductor Thomas Wilkins 190 feet into an air bag so that they could use his body to paint a picture. This stunt would take weeks of preparation and design to make it exciting while keeping it safe.
VP of T-Minus Productions Lauren Pacheco would take lead on this project coordinating logistics and producing the stunt. Planning and coordinating the prep and logistics took weeks working with creative to give them exactly what they wanted. Live shows like Broadway’s Spiderman took months of rehearsal to set up safety protocols and still had problems in that department. So Lauren working with Stunt Coordinator TJ White and used T-Minus Stunt Rigging company to draw up a plan on how to properly rig this stunt in the tight space given at the Hollywood Bowl. The team at T-Minus knew they had to not only set a Stuntman to fall 190 feet in the air from a crane but do it multiple times for several shows at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.
Working with heights and using heavy equipment you always have to find companies that are production friendly. Crane company Champion Cranes (“Terminator 3″) was used for this project. They have worked with T-Minus Productions on several projects and are very selective with which companies they work with in the film industry.
A decelerator wire system was used to hoist up Stunt Double Lance Jamison 190 feet in the air and drop at a high rate of speed landing into an air bag. If you had a chance to watch this live show you would have seen the tom trickery of believing that the Conductor went up in the air and landing making his painting splat. The loud gasps from the audience were heard wide and far, followed by applause when the Conductor came out to the stage with the Blue Men and their painting. Another Live Show success for T-Minus Productions & T-Minus Stunt Rigging.
T-Minus Productions Getting Ready to test at Champion Crane
T-Minus Stunt Team with Blueman Group Team at Stunt Test
T-Minus Blueman Group Stunt Team
Stunt Double Lance Jemison Decelerating 190ft During A Test Run
Behind The Scenes Shot of Blueman Group Stunt
T-Minus Stunt Team TJ White, Zac Henry, and Tim James at Blueman Group Show at Hollywood Bowl
How does Superman or Batman fly in the air? Is it magic? Is it Digital? Sometimes it is the latter but most of the time it is pre-planned Wire Rigging. While wire work can be expensive it is the best way to do the stunt practically versus using visual effects. Time and time again once production decides to do a wire gag they are happy they chose that route. It keeps directors happy on keeping their vision alive and you can’t compete with the shots that you’ll get.
Studios like Warner Brothers, Sony, Universal Studios, Disney, Marvel Studios, call a Stunt Coordinator or 2nd Unit Director to design an action sequence that the director wants to shoot that correlates with the story of the film. Once this concept has been worked out the Stunt Coordinator brings in their Stunt Rigging Coordinator so they can both design the action.
Justin Bieber tweeted this Picture of him on a Ledge at Universal Studios Back Lot
Enrique Iglesias on a bridge along the California coast for a Music Video
Chris Brown tweeted this picture of Models levitating on Universal Studios backlot
Def Jam artist Logic goes big with his latest music video for his newest album “Under Pressure”. Logic, a self proclaimed movie buff, started story boarding months before actual production with Greenglow Films Director Stephen Wayne Mallett. Producers Alec Eskander and Kevin Lee oversaw production for Greenglow Films.
Using so many guns you really have to bring in a professional Armour like Mike Tristano. Mike is best know for films like; 310: to Yuma and Jeepers Creepers II. Using so many guns we only used qualified Stuntmen that have had extensive training with weapons, fights and falls. In this particular video Greenglow Films Contacted Jim Zahnd and TJ White to stunt coordinate the action in this first person shooter video game style music video. T-Minus Productions’ Stunt Department cast all of the stunt performers for the video. T-Minus Productions used some of the top Stunt Doubles in the business for actors such as Bruce Willis, Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, Ashton Kutcher and Chad Micheal Murray. Using these highly trained stunt performers allowed production to be able to rehearse the fight scenes and film the music video all in the same day.
Using an experienced Stunt Coordinator and the right amount stunt performers allows a production to save money in re-takes, safety from injuries, overtime, and equipment damages. Proper planning allows the director, producer, and talent to acheive their vision. On set the Stunt Coordinator and his or her team can work with the Director and camera department to get something really dynamic action pieces. Take a look at Logic’s action packed Music Video “Under Pressure” below.
Logic : Under Pressure – Music Video for Def Jam Records
Stuntman Nicholas Verdi was also the POV Cameraman
On set with Usher and Stuntman Ladell Preston and Stunt Coordinator TJ White
Partizan Entertainment’s Director Phil Andelman and Producer Josh Goldstein brought in Stunt Coordinator TJ White and T-Minus Stunt Rigging Inc. to design wire rigs that would be able to hang platinum recording artist Usher in his newest music video “She Came To Give It To You” ft. Nicki Minaj and Pharrell Williams. Director Phil Andelman had a very specific concept to incorporate dance and abstract movements defining gravity at the same time. Working with a very athletic artist like Usher is always great and makes it easier when he is doing the stunt. Working with Wire can be very difficult on your body and it takes a lot of core strength. TJ brought in stuntman Ladell Preston, who has doubled Usher in the past, to rehearse and test the wire rig prior to Usher filming his scene. By testing and rehearsing prior to the talent getting rigged up allows for all safety to be checked off, and for any obstacles to be overcome to save production time and money.
Using a company like T-Minus Productions Stunt Department and T-Minus Stunt Rigging can help a production with all of their safety concerns and budget constraints. Wire work can be some of the most expensive type gags when it comes to stunts, but the final product on screen always makes the director and production happy that they budgeted for it. We highly recommend that production contact us in the creation process so we can consult with what various stunts will cost prior to the pitch so that a concept that is proposed isn’t out of their budget reach.
Usher hanging on Wires waiting for the shot
T Minus Stunt Rigging Inc. Rehearsing the Wire Rig
More and more production and insurance companies have contacted Qualified Stunt Coordinators to supervise all safety concerns for their show concepts. This is to ensure that the event they are putting their contestants through is deemed safe and secure for the insurance companies to sign off on. Successful shows like Fear Factor have brought on veteran Stunt Coordinators such as Perry Barndt, and President of Stunts Unlimited stunt group in Los Angeles Pat Ramano, to be Producers and Safety consultants for the show. These safety experts work with production from the beginning stages of concept. They design the stunts to make it exciting and far fetched but also safe for the contestants. When designing a particular stunt these coordinators and consultants use specific Stunt Rigging equipment and Stunt Rigging companies to set it up and test the stunt and/or action piece with qualified stunt performers. The Stuntmen and stuntwomen are trained professionals that have the knowledge and expertise to test a stunt or gag to rule out injury for a contestant or talent. Stunt Rigging Companies and Special Effects companies work together to fabricate and manufacture specific designs so that the it could be used in a safe manner.
Stunt Coordinators and Stunt Rigging Coordinators have been moving into a more Risk Assessment role in reality shows, games shows, and live events. This new position is more likely a Safety Producer, Supervising Producer, or Risk Management Producer versus just a straight Stunt Coordinator. With the bar being raised on having action on the screen, the safety precautions have to be increased on these live type shows. Bringing in a qualified safety expert can limit time and money from a production. To many productions it may seem like an added cost but in the end it is like everyone’s mother always said, “Its better to be safe than sorry.”
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.