1. What inspired you to start doing stunts?
Most of my background was sports or athletic related stuff and all that kind of skill set. As far as being inspired, I’ve always been intrigued with film and I’ve always enjoyed watching movies. The idea of being in a movie was always sort of a fantasy. When I moved to British Columbia and then I met people who were in the film industry, I realized it was a possibility so I took the steps necessary to go in that direction.
2. What is the best part about what you do?
The best part is the actual satisfaction that you get when you’re on the line. What I mean by that is sometimes you’re in the fortunate position where you’re the central focus of what’s happening in front of the camera and there is a lot of pressure with that at times. When you do the job well and it comes across well there’s a huge amount of satisfaction to that personally; that you rose to the occasion, and that you did it. There is a certain rush to that as well. I think that’s probably the best part. The pay is also pretty good when you do work. That’s also certainly a benefit. I mean, that’s why people do it as well, to make a living. First and foremost, I think it’s the extreme satisfaction that you get performing.
3. What is the craziest stunt that you’ve ever done for a movie?
The craziest thing was to throw myself headlong down hills and steep inclines for the movie ‘Hot Rod’. There was a big fall scene that lasted for about two minutes in the film and I participated in that. Me and the other stunt guys took turns rolling down the hill. When you’re at the top of the hill looking down you thought, “this is really crazy, it’s really stupid what we’re doing”. We took our lumps doing it, but it was fun.
4.Who do you admire?
In the stunt community there’s just a host of people. Many of them are veteran Stunt Performers that have moved on from stunt performing into second unit directing, and directing, that I admire. One of them is Lauro Chartrand, who is a friend of mine, and if I could emulate anyone he would be the guy.
There are some new guys that have come into the industry that are extremely talented and seem to take the initiative to expand already, and I admire them. Jeff Ong would be a person. Chris Gordon and Adrian Hein are younger Stunt Performers that came from a gymnastics background that have done really well for themselves, but there’s many, many guys in the industry that have done really well and I admire.
5.You worked on the set of Red, what kind of stunts were involved?
Well, for me it wasn’t much. There was a big ballroom scene and I was one of the CIA agents in the room and I had to fall down on the ground. A large percentage of stunt work is just about anybody who is athletic and is willing to fall down. There’s a smaller percentage where you need a certain skill set. There’s a very smaller percentage where you have to have a very specific skill set and it’s very dangerous; or if you don’t know what you’re doing could be very dangerous, or even deadly if you’re not careful.
6.Do you need any certifications to be able to do certain types of stunts?
Well you do. Quite often stunt performers are hired for their ability to do certain things. For instance, if they require some man to drive a truck you have to have a class one driver’s license. If you’re going to do a fight scene they require a certain amount of skill. You have to be trained in that particular art and have a certain proficiency at how well you perform that. Usually a black belt is an indication. You do have to have a skill set, certainly.
7.What motivates you as a stunt performer?
The motivation is that it’s fun to be in films. It’s fun to work. When you’re working and being paid to do what you love it’s a huge motivation. It’s also motivating to be part of the production of something that you can watch later on and say, “Ya, I was part of that”. The satisfaction turns into a motivation to want to do it some more.
8.Do you have a favourite movie with amazing stunts in it?
There would be a lot. I mean, from a fighting sequence there’s all the Jackie Chan stunts that are just unbelievably choreographed. Lately, the Bourne Trilogy movies took it to a different level. Then, of course, there are movies that really show car scenes that require a lot of training and expertise and timing. I don’t know which one to say that would be my number one favourite, but there’s a few out there.
Of course, I really like movies that are not just heavy stunts, but primarily good acting. I think that good stunt work compliments good acting, when it’s real and not computer generated and there’s real human skill shown on screen.
9.Do you work with a team of stunt people for each movie and what’s that like?
I’ve always been hired by a Stunt Coordinator. The team can be as little as a Stunt Coordinator and a Stunt Performer, but I have worked on movies where there have been several Stunt Performers working under 1, 2 or 3 stunt coordinators. I prefer the smaller ones, you seem to get to do more and the focus is more on you when you are performing. Often times, when you’re working on big budget films, it’s often several Stunt Performers with a coordinator and probably 2 or 3 of his assistants.
10.What key advice would you give to a person who is starting to do stunts?
Develop your skills because it’s all about what you can do and what you bring to the table. There are certain basic skills that you need to have. You need to be able to fight. At least be able to look like you know how to fight. Everything is about what it looks like. It doesn’t have to be real. You don’t actually have to like to fight, you just need to know how to throw a punch and kick and sell it.
If you can bring specific skills like gymnastics or driving or even flying… that’s really specific, but being a pilot. There’s certainly work for those guys and I’m sure that’s a very highly sought out position when it comes to those types of movies. It’s all about what you bring to the table and what skills you have.
I’d even recommend for people coming in to also learn how to act because that’s also a valued asset. If a Stunt Performer can actually act, and say a few lines, that’s a good thing to have under your belt as well.