Action Director TJ White on set of Amazon’s Grand Tour
Amazon’s The Grand Tour with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May came to Los Angeles to make a statement of why they are the premiere car show on television. Using millions of dollars of vehicles from Aston Martin, Mercedes, Lamborgini, Rolls Royce , Mike Ryans Freightliner Race Semi, Porsche and one of a kind vehicles driving in the Mohave dry lake bed while the host comes blasting through the lines in brand new Mustangs.
This was done with professional drivers and some driving their personal cars. In doing so it took several hours of rehearsal to the over 50 plus drivers to be able to drive at a high rate of speed and hold there mark for several miles while the host come racing though the line. Action Director TJ White from T Minus Productions was brought in to supervise and design the action along with Safety consultant Adam Atella. Using experienced consults helps a production not only be safe of save time while actually filming. This saves a production money in the long run.
Musical Artist like Weeknd are always trying to be as creative as possible in their music videos. In the Weeknd’s latest music video Party Monster the concept was all about neon light, a sexy woman and fast cars. Making these expensive cars drift and slide around is very difficult. These cars have computers in them to stabilize the drive and give you high performance while keeping the car in total control. When you are stunt driving you are trying to push the car to it limits while being in control while making it look dynamic in the camera.
This is only done with the supervision of an experienced Stunt Coordinator and Stunt Driver. A Stunt Coordinator over sees the stunt driving in the scene while helping the director and production pick and prep the right car for the shot. The Stunt Coordinator will also help the director design the action in the scene while doing is safely. This can take time and money prepping the car to make the car do what it does in movies like Fast and the furious. These skilled Stunt drivers have years of driving experience before they get the chance to do a driving stunt on camera.
Chuck Hank and the San Diego Twins was a labor of love for indie film company Coatwolf. Coatwolf got a lot of attention years ago with “Bellflower” at Sundance. This is their follow up film written, directed, and produced by the company. Using a very gritty and unconventional filming techniques these filmmakers do what ever takes to bring there creation to life. Early on in there development of the project Director / Producer / Actor Jonathan Keevil and Producer / Actor Evan Glodell knew they needed someone that could help them with the action. So they contacted TJ White at T Minus Productions to help with with there film. When meeting and developing the action scenes they all decided that it would be best for TJ and T Minus Productions to come on and produce the action scenes with them. Lead my T Minus ProductionsLauren Pacheco to associate produce the film and help facilite high budget film action on a modest budget indie film.
Lauren and TJ’s first order of business was to get the actors into shape and train them to be fighters. They didn’t want to use Stunt doubles for the fight scenes so they would have to train to be able to do the moves that would be needed for these fight scenes. After weeks of training the actors they went into pre-vis with TJ’s stunt team to design the fight scenes that fit there script. After all the pre-vis and training the team sat down with there Director of PhotographyJoel Hodge and storyboarded the action scenes . This was a very detailed process planning out all the action so that every moment on set would be taken advantage of. Take a look at the first official trainer below.
Cast and Stunt Crew for a scene on Chuck Hank and San Diego Twins
Director Jonathan Keevil with Stunt Coordinator TJ White and Fight Trainer Kelly Carter
Not all extreme athletes are right for action scenes in Film and Television shows. It takes the right skill set and experience on a film set to achieve a specific action scene. When doing a stunt it takes a lot of planning and design to create a scene that not only tells a story but entertains the audience. Extreme Athletes have a specific outlet and training regimen to perform a stunts. They warm there body up in a specific way to get ready for a specific event they may compete in. While filming on a film or TV set, these stunt are usually shot the last shot of the day. So the stunt performers usually have a lot of down time before doing a stunt. This can cause fatigue and tightness in the muscles and cause injury.
Using a qualified Stunt Coordinator can design a Stunt that can utilize an Extreme Athletes skills while keeping it safe. Below you can see two Stunts that were designed by a Stunt Coordinator but fabricating specific stunt ramps to do a specific jump with a BMX. Knowing the specific trick in the air and the trajectory that the director and camera operator wants is very important. The placement of the camera, lens used and framing is so specific that without the correct stunt performer and stunt equipment they would not be able to perform the stunt and make it repeatable. It is very important to repeat a stunt multiple times for the directors. Many athletes do night like to performs stunts multiple times, due to increase percentage of injury. Stuntmen and Stuntwomen train to performs stunts multiple types so that the camera department can cover it at multiple angles.
Many Extreme athletes after retiring enter the Entertainment Industry. MMA UFC Champions like Randy Couture, Quinton Jackson, and Don Frye have made the transition into the industry using there athlete training to actor and performs stunts in feature films.
Stunt BMX Guy on Lil Wayne Music Video
Stuntman Danny Downey doing his thing on Will I am Awesome Music Video
T Minus Productions and Stunt Coordinator TJ White Mo-Cap Stunt team on the set of DUST 514
Stunt Coordinators and Stunt performers are brought in to help Motion Capture companies get the action they need for their projects. Motion Capture is a technology that recorded an actor or stuntman’s movements in a specific space with accuracy. Then that information is recorded and transferred into their systems letting the editors able to put the structure of the performance body on anything like a robot, monster, or even an animal. This technology is used primarily for video games and more recently made it more prominent in feature films like Avatar, Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Pirates of the Caribbean.
Mo-Cap filming is very specific. Every movement the talent makes is recorded exactly as they are doing it in real time. The talent uses their body as an form of acting just like an actor uses dialogue.
Lee Jeans Commercial went big with Stunts to show off there jeans. Using a stunt rider to drive a Harley Davidson down the road at 65 MPH and then standing on the seat while being filmed.
Working with motorcycles can be difficult. Different bikes have a different set of problems. Contacting someone knowledgeable in motorcycles can help a production source the right bike, the right rider and customize it to do what you want it to for the shot.
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.
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