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All posts under category '2nd Unit Directors'.

Action Designer – Stunt Coordinator TJ White from T Minus Productions

Stunt Coordinator TJ White from T Minus Productions is a 2nd Generation Stunt Coordinator  2nd Unit Director.  He entered the Stunt Business professionally in 1991 right out of high school.  This Action Designer is the CEO of T Minus Production a production company and stunt company in Los Angeles California.  T Minus Productions produces action scenes for some of highest profile talent in the entertainment business.

Check TJ White’s 2017 Stunt Coordinator Reel below. This is just his most recent footage clink the youtube link to see earlier pieces of his work.

 

 

 

Eminem is the next Bourne in Phenomenal Music Video

 

Check out Marshall Mathers / Eminem”  exciting music video for the film South Paw with Jake Gyllenhall.  Using high concept action you would see in a marvel film.  This music video pushes the limit when it comes to action, stunts and octane in 5 minutes.  Marshall did an amazing job doing his own stunts on wire flying over a flat bed truck after crashing on a motorcycle.

DNA films brought in veteran Action Director / Stunt Coordinator Andy Armstrong from Armstrong Action and TJ White from T Minus Productions to design and supervise the action for this music video.  Using professional Stunt bike riders, Parkour, fight specialist, Wire Specialist and a stunt driver to safely perform these stunts within the 5 day shoot in LA. Andy Armstrong best know for the last 2 Spiderman films was able to show the production team a design of his action to be able to shoot in all in the time they had.  Most films take weeks to achieve what you will see is this video.

 

 

Screen Shot

 

Stuntmen Turning Directors in Hollywood

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.

Red Dawn Trailer – In Theaters Now

Snitch Trailer – Coming to Theaters soon

Fire With Fire on DVD now

Action Stunts in Television Series

 

 

General Lee Jumping for the “Dukes of Hazzard”

When you think of action, viewers tend to only think of summer blockbusters.  Television was built on family shows, comedy, and variety shows all adapted from radio shows of the same genre.  Then came “Slap-Stick” which began showing falls and use of props to convey a unique story.  As the medium of entertainment started requiring more action, Stunt Coordinators stepped up to the challenge.

Shows requiring the talent and expertise of stunt performers started gaining the viewers’ attention.  Westerns, Super Heroes, and even quirky European Comedies allowed studios and producers to give the Stunt Coordinator more room to create dangerous looking, but safe action and excitement for the viewer.

In the late 70’s and 80’s, viewers were introduced to television’s transformation which opened many doors for the decades to come.  The A-Team, Hawaii Five-0, Dukes of Hazzard, Blue Thunder, Magnum P.I., Miami Vice, and of course, every stunt performer’s favorite… The Fall Guy.  All of these opened the virtual pallet of imagination for stunt coordinators.  Dukes of Hazzard used over 300 General Lees during production.  Flying cars, intense fights, explosions, aerial stunts, and everything you would see by going to a blockbuster in the theaters, were now seen in your own homes.

In 2012, we have seen on television an unbelievable amount of options over the past several years when it comes to deciding which of the over 500 channels of entertainment to watch.  Every network, production company, studio and show is looking for the WOW factor.  From Daytime Drama series, to Reality Shows, to every show that uses an Acronym (i.e. N.C.I.S or C.S.I. insert your city name here), and even comedies are relying on talented stunt coordinators to make their product POP and WOW.  Coordinators, such as TJ White, have the trust and admiration of those looking to excite and safely create television shows that viewers can’t stop watching.

 

Stunts in Day Time Television Soap Operas

Actresses with there Stunt Doubles on “Days of Our lives”

A soap opera, sometimes called “soap” for short, is an ongoing, episodic work of dramatic fiction presented in serial format on radio or as television programming. The name soap opera stems from the original dramatic serials broadcast on radio that had soap manufacturers, such as Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and Lever Brothers, as sponsors and producers. These early radio series were broadcast in weekday daytime slots, usually five days a week, when most listeners would be housewives; thus the shows were aimed at and consumed by a predominantly female audience.

Soap operas became a staple of daytime television in the United States in the early 1950s. Along with game shows, reruns of situation comedies, and talk shows, the soap opera was traditionally a fixture in the American broadcast networks’ daytime schedules. Christina S. Beck argues the significance of soap operas are based on viewers’ co-constructing narratives to show how both traditional and online soaps help negotiated the lived experience of people.
Many long-running US soap operas established particular environments for their stories. The Doctors and General Hospital, in the beginning, told stories almost exclusively from inside the confines of a hospital. As the World Turns dealt heavily with Chris Hughes’ law practice and the travails of his wife Nancy who, tired of being “the loyal housewife” in the 1970s, became one of the first older women on the American serials to become a working woman. Guiding Light dealt with Bert Bauer (Charita Bauer) and her alcoholic husband Bill, and their endless marital troubles. When Bert’s status shifted to caring mother and town matriarch, her children’s marital troubles were showcased. Search for Tomorrow mostly told its story through the eyes of Joanne Gardner (Mary Stuart). Even when stories revolved around other characters, Joanne was frequently a key player in their story lines. Days of our Lives initially focused on Dr. Tom Horton and his steadfast wife Alice. The show later branched out to focus more on their five children. The Edge of Night featured as its central character Mike Karr, a police detective (later an attorney), and largely dealt with organized crime. The Young and the Restless first focused on two families, the prosperous Brooks Family with four daughters, and the working class Foster family of a single working mother with three children. Its story lines explored realistic problems including cancer, mental illness, poverty and infidelity.

While these soap have been airing for may years that have also made great stride on making there dramatic sense look as good as scripted prime time TV shows.  This is done by using highly qualified stunt coordinators in the business.  Because an average soap shoots an episode a day it takes a skilled stunt coordinator to effectively design and supervise action scenes.  There is not a lot of time to set up the stunt so production relies on the Stunt Coordinator and his or her team of stunt performers to come in to set prepared to do the stunt quickly and safe.  It is rare if a stunt performed will be able to do a second take due to the time constraints’ the production team and director have.

In 2011 the Academy of Art and Sciences of Television gave  day time Emmy to Tim Davison for Stunt Coordinating General Hospital.  In 2012 Stunt Coordinator Tim Davison is nominated for a second time for General Hospital along with Stunt Coordinator Terry James for Days of our Lives.  Terry James was nominated for two Emmy’s last year for Days of our Lives and Young and the Restless.  Terry is the longest running stunt coordinator for any day time television show  supervising all aspect of the Stunts for Young and the Restless for the past 25 years.

Hollywood Stunt Drivers and Action Directors

 

Hollywood Stunt Drivers and Action Directors have been putting emotion into America’s hot-rods for years.

One of our all time faves illustrates this perfectly – Duel. Often overlooked, Stephen Spielberg’s directorial debut film was an intense ride, start to finish. All with just one lead actor, Richard Weaver.

(If you haven’t seen Duel – it’s about a terrified motorist that is stalked on a remote desert road by a menacing tanker truck.)

Spielberg chose the hero car, a red 1971 Plymouth Valiant, to stand out in the wide shots of the desert highway. The vehicle also personified the polite-until-pushed, middle class American.

The antagonist vehicle steals the show. Spielberg selected a 1955 Peterbilt 281 because of the elongated hood, the split windshield and round headlights. These features gave it more of a “face”, adding to the menacing personality. It worked for Spielberg and also for John Lasseter in Disney / Pixar’s Cars. The character Mater, voice by Larry the Cable Guy, bears a striking resemblance to Duel’s Peterbilt.

The majority of the film takes place on a remote desert highway as the truck swerves, brakes, and speeds in attempt to crash the Plymouth and Richard Weaver. It’s friggin awesome. Spielberg and stunt drivers Cary Loftin, Carol Daniels and Dale Van Sickel’s make the viewing experience more intense than what the NASCAR Track Pack can deliver today. Their moves, angles, and close-ups make you feel like you are hanging on to the bumper for dear life!

This 1971 film stands the test of time because the vehicles capture basic, raw human emotion. The film was masterfully executed. OK, so we’re biased 😉

If you have not seen this old-school film, do yourself a favor and rent it this weekend. And don’t take the back roads next time you drive to Vegas!

 

 

From Ohio to Hollywood 32 Years in the Stunt Business

Terry James and son TJ White on Justin Bieber Video set

 

If you listen closely to the back roads of Northeast Ohio, you may still hear Terry James 1967 El Camino big block echoing.

In the 60’s and 70’s, the Motorcity was pumping out some serious horse-power. And the young, lead-foot drivers of Geauga County, Ohio were eating it up. The towns of Middlefield, Burton and Chardon were stomping grounds of many a street and drag racer. They were just far enough outside Cleveland to avoid the police, but close enough to have good asphalt!

To this day, classic car shows and drag racing at Thompson Raceway  are still thriving, thanks to the passion and elbow grease of these hundreds of pioneers.  While most of these guys still tinker with their hot-rods, one of them took his passion and talents to the Silver Screen.

Producer Terry James moved to LA in the 1970’s and quickly began driving and performing stunts for film and TV. His passion for cars, speed, and safety is on display in car-centric classics such as B.J. and the Bear, The Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Rider, and The Cannonball Run. He has performed, stunt coordinated and directed 2nd unit on countless shows, including: Stripes, The X-Files, Prison Break, Thank you for Smoking, and Michael Bay’s Transformers, and many others. Terry has also been nominated for an Emmy for Young and the Restless and Days of Our loves in 2011 and was just nominated for an 2012 Emmy for Days of our Lives.

As a producer, his thrillers are keeping audiences on the edge of their seats, while giving investors a nice ROI.

His latest film, HUFF, starring Charlie O’Connell and Clint Howard, is in the can and beginning to show at festivals.

Huff News

 

 

‘Fast and Furious’ Driving Stunts VS. ‘Drive’ Action Stunts

 

These two films, Fast and Furious, and Drive have two different variables that make up their own unique story but both have one constant. One is a franchise based on amazing driving, the other is a story about a driver. Both have accomplished stunt drivers, but who was really behind the wheel?  And who gets to choreograph all those scenes?  Training actors to look natural while being pulled behind a truck, go-mobile, mic rig, process-trailer or on a green screen is one thing, but to get those intense, hart stopping, and precise stunts takes professionals.
Hours upon hours and sometimes even days go into the set up and filming to just get one shot or a series of shots to make up a 2 minute chase sequence. Stunt Coordinators, 2nd Unit Directors Action Directors and stunt drivers alike pride ourselves in that safety is first, and second would be to get the shot without mistakes.  Using a wide variety of vehicles adds complexity to any driving scene. The Stunt Coordinator works closely with the producers and directors to design a high octane chase scene while pushing the envelope on there stunt sequences.  On the last Fast and Furious film Dodge got involved early on to help design the look for some of the cars and rig them for the performance needed for the stunt drivers.

The Fast and Furious franchise started out with Veteran Stunt Coordinator Mic Rogers best know for stunt doubling and stunt coordinating for Mel Gibson for years.  The last couple Fast films have been Stunt Coordinated by Mike Gunther and 2nd Unit Director Spiro Razatos “Expendables, Total Recall, Death Race“.  On the film Drive, Stunt coordinator Darrin Prescott “Indiana JonesDukes of Hazzard” also served as 2nd Unit director giving this very stylized film a new way of filming car scenes.

These experts in the industry of filming car chases allows a production to capture the intensity needed for the audiences.
We know what looks good on screen and what excites the viewer. Whether its for a NASCAR commercial, Music video, or action film, we can produce the intensity needed for the project.

 

American Idol’s Daughtry Stunt Driving in “Out of My Head” Music Video

Flamingo Films produces music video for Daughtry’s newest single “Out of My Head”.  Directed by Shane Drake, Executive Produced by Sandy Hadadd and Produced by Brandon Bonfiglio they brought in the very best to shoot a high octane action video using BMW ‘s RT 1300 motorcycle and Dodges RT8 Challenger.  Co- Staring in this action video was actress Kelly Hu “Martial Law, Young Justice“.

Shane Drake directs Daughtry for  “Out of my Head” Music Video

The Production being under a time constraint brought in Stunt Driving expert and member of Generation x Driver TJ White and T Minus Production to create and supervise the stunt driving.  TJ White is not a stranger when is comes to stunt driving performing and directing some of the memorable action scenes for N’Sync, Fuel, Bon Jovi and Static.

TJ stated working with a director like Shane was a pleasure, i have been a fan of his work for a while and know he has had extensive car work working with Ford and American Idol.  So i knew when we went over the concept the best way to shoot the Fast and The Furious style action we would need the equipment  they used in those films like the Z Crane.  The Z Crane with his great handling Mercedes ML 55 and there customized one of a kind remote head makes is easier to get the kinetic shots this video will need.

 

Z Crane getting Reading for a Shot with Stunt Driver Jim Zahnd

 

Dodge Challenger Hero Car and the Z Crane Camera Car on set of Chris Daughtry Video

Behind the Scenes on Chris Daughtry Music Video

 

Stunt Coordinators & 2nd Unit Directors Moving Into The Director’s Seat

The classic textbook tale to become a director is that you must first go to film school where there you will start to direct shorts, commercials, and music videos. After many of these trials you could possibly get the chance to direct a full length feature film where here you may have the chance to get your break. This ideology has worked for many but not for the masses. In reality many directors have started their career not in the power chair but in a position that has them closer to the action than any director can possibly get to and that is in the stunt department.

Directors Mike “Mouse” McCoy and Scott Waugh

When filming, a director calls upon the stunt coordinator or 2nd unit director to create and oversee the action scenes to ensure safety and to certify that the right sequences are caught on film so that they have what they need when it comes time for post production. With the given that these 2nd unit directors and coordinators are in the thick of events it only seems like a natural progression for them to be the ones that are directing the films of today. Many stunt men turned directors are not blatantly obvious to the general audience but when you look deeper at their body of work you can see the difference and realize why this happy marriage between these two fields workHal Nedham and Burt ReynoldsA couple of the most famous stunt men that became directors are Clint Eastwood Million Dollar Baby (2004), J.Edgar (2011) and  Hal Needham The Cannon Ball Run (1981), Smokey and the Bandit (1977).  These successful directors learned their craft while performing and supervising action sequences on film sets. In addition to those greats, there has been many more up and coming directors like TV and film director David Barrett The Mentalist, Blue Bloods. Along with Steve Boyum stuntman turned director for Hawaii 5-0, Supernatural.

Hal Needham and Burt Reynolds

More success stories include Dan Bradley who 2nd unit directed for such blockbuster films like The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. Bradley just wrapped the remake of Red Dawn in which he directed. Brian Smrz directed Hero Wanted with Cuba Gooding Jr. and came from 2nd unit directing pictures like Iron Man 3, X-Men:First Class and Live Free or Die Hard.

Making a name for himself in the thriller genre is 2nd Unit director David Ellis who did the 2nd unit on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone along with The Matrix Reloaded. A few of his directing titles include Final Destination, Cellular, and Shark Night. The majority of action in these films were computer effects that Ellis designed to give the audience the thrill of their life. Being a seasoned stuntman gave Ellis the vision of what looks good on film and what the audience craves.

Studios, producers and directors alike have always relied on Stunt Coordinators to get the action footage needed to balance out the film. With the experience of directing stunts and camera angles it is more evident that a 2nd unit director would make the smooth transition into the director’s chair telling the entire story through their well trained eye.

Director David Ellis instructing Actress for next shot.

Most recently the box office hit Act of Valor was produced and directed by two stuntmen Mike “Mouse” McCoy and Scott Waugh. With the well choreographed dance of high fleeting action and explosions created by McCoy and Waugh the audience responded by spending millions of dollars in the theater proving that the formula of stuntmen turned directors works and is profitable. Who better to direct a film then the ones that are in the trenches?

With the success of the Act of Valor many may see this stuntman turned director a trend. To attest this we must say that it is not a trend but it is the way it has always been. Smart and sophisticated stuntmen can make this an effortless conversion. If you are already shadowing the director or in most coordinator’s or 2nd unit director’s case showing the director exactly what needs to be done then it makes sense as to why these men have been such a success. Act of Valor may have been the most recent of films to prove this point but it most definitely won’t be the last.