After more than thirty years of involvement in the sports, stunt instruction, and the international stunt entertainment industry, I’m frequently asked about how to become a stuntman. During my stunt performer jobs I have been a human torch, fallen from heights, and been frequently shot at. Fortunately, a complexity of wires, harnesses and high technology equipment and my expert level skills minimize the risks when performing stunts.
Stunt professionals are made through immersing themselves in core skills instruction and demonstrable practical activities. I hope that if you want to know how to become a stuntman then my post will provide a useful guide listing top tips for succeeding as stunt professional.
Who Wants To Be a Stunt Professional?
You must have a passion for everything about the world of stunts. That is the key for how to become a stuntman.
My life as an international stunt professional is incredibly rewarding for me. Starting out as a martial artist then becoming an actor, I’ve been extremely fortunate to work in both films and television.
For more than thirty years, I’ve jetted across the world, worked in exotic destinations, and worked out with celebrities such as Chuck Norris, legendary martial artist and actor. He has starred in many action films including the 1972 Bruce Lee classic, Return of the Dragon. Chuck made a huge impact on movie-goers as the highlight of the film was a fight scene with martial arts action legend, Bruce Lee. Rated by TIME as one of the greatest movie battles ever, the protracted duel was staged in the historically famed Roman Colosseum. The hero is the winning gladiator. Although Bruce Lee’s character won, it was Chuck who inspired my successful professional stunt career.
Making a Stunt Professional
In learning how to become a stuntman, you will come to understand that stunt work is very specialized. However, much of basic stunts work involves fighting and falls, fondly known in the industry as ‘ground pounding’. Our range of proven courses at the Academy includes teaching skills in tumbling.
A background in any style of martial arts is beneficial in preparing for stunt fights. As featured in The Matrix trilogy, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and Hero, Wushu is a popular choice for Hollywood’s elite fight choreographers, martial artists and actors such as Jet Li, and Keanu Reeves. Wushu, a traditional Chinese martial art incorporates both gymnastics and weapons. This martial art improves flexibility, stamina, and cardio-vascular performance. In addition, Taekwondo, my specialty, is another excellent martial art that provides a rock solid foundation as a stunt professional.
Our world class instruction includes all of the required skills and activities required by a stunt performer:
- High falls
- Stair falls
- Horse falls
- Wire work
- Air ram
- Precision driving
The image wall features a showcase of exciting stunt skills activities at Stunt Park.
How to Become a Stuntman: Stunt Terms Glossary
Check out our guide to explaining the most popular terms used in the stunt industry and the essential building blocks for learning how to become a stuntman:
- Abseil/rappelling – Learning how to do a controlled descent of a vertical drop, such as a rock face, using a rope.
- Tumbling – Learning the ability to perform a range of gymnastic or acrobatics feats without using any specialized equipment. For example, somersaults in the air, handsprings, shoulder rolls, and dive rolls. These are very important skills for a stunt performer to learn how to do safely. In addition, this activity improves coordination skills.
- Air Ram – A technical device using hydraulics and compressed air for catapulting a stunt performer into the air when he/she stands on the device. Often used for simulating explosion effects so that the stunt man or stunt woman is propelled through the air with considerable momentum, flying either forwards, backwards or somersaulting.
- Wire work – Learning a unique style of stunt work using rigs, harnesses and vests to perform aerial action scenes. These are used in stunts to simulate flying, falling, and jerking. The wires aid in guiding a controlled descent or either to quickly remove a character from an action scene.
- High Falls – Learning the ability to safely fall from heights, including landing on an air bag.
- Weapons Skills – Including swordplay where you learn how to use swords skillfully in combat, as in choreographed action scenes.
- Fire burns – Learn current fire technologies and techniques, and how to safely perform human torches using special protective clothing and the best quality fire safety products. As an experienced stunt professional, I’ve performed the human torch many times. I know that being in the flame too long means burning to death. If I breathe the flame into my lungs, it can kill me within minutes.
Top 10 Skills and Abilities for How to Become a Stuntman
- Excellent physical fitness
- Excellent coordination skills
- Aptitude for sports, martial arts skills
- Aptitude for outdoor physical exercise
- Effective verbal and written communication
- Excellent attention to detail
- Team player prepared to follow stunt coordinator’s instructions
- Enduring commitment to working hard and safely performing stunt performer jobs
- Enthusiastic and hard working attitude with a passion for stunt jobs
- Courageous thrill seekers who conquer their fear
A Stunt Professional Is Made
Most noteworthy, our classes also provide skills instruction in stage combat. At these valuable classes, you learn about risk reduction while performing stunts. Safety is the number issue, distance strategy, predicting reactions, designing choreographic sequences, and camera staging are essential skills to minimize stunt-related accidents resulting from fight scenes. Especially relevant, in my experience is that if and when injuries happen, it’s usually because of simple mistakes such as kicks and punches at close range – too close. On-camera basics 101 is that if the shot safer, it probably also looks better.
Furthermore, another essential factor is taking an acting class. You will learn useful skills which will improve your marketability in the industry.
Finally, graduate from our worldwide range of stunt courses covering the essential range of especially relevant stunt skills and activities at our international destinations! We can teach you how to become a stuntman. Remember too to watch out for what is in production and auditions.
Auditioning to get a stunt person job in a stunt show such as Universal Studios, Water World is a great opportunity. You will also meet other upcoming stunt professionals in the industry. Many of the top stunt artists started out in live stunt shows all over the world. Check out more information, including stunt videos, about the upcoming Water World stunt performer role auditions scheduled for the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia and Los Angeles, California, USA.
International Stunt Professional Links
Stunt performers are usually members of SG-AFTRA. This organisation brings together two iconic American labor unions, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. To do stunt work for movies and television, it is important that there is protection and safety for all performing artists.
A professional organization in the entertainment industry: stunt professionals, coordinators etc
Home to top stunt performers, stunt coordinators etc in film and television
Exclusive organization of under 50 members, premiere stunt performers, stunt coordinators
Selected professional stunt performers with Membership by invitation only
Top stuntwomen with membership is by invitation only
Top working, professional stuntwomen, coordinators
Association of professional stuntwomen
A select group of professional stunt people working in film and television in Canada. Membership is by invitation only
Database of World Class Stunt Professionals living, working or looking for work in Canada
The MEAA is the largest established union and industry advocate for Australia’s creative professionals such as stunt professionals. Stunt Grading Procedures govern working in the film and television stunt industry.
A Stunt Actor must have advanced stunt skills and instruction in all of the six categories of Body control (compulsory), Heights, Vehicles, Animals, Water, and Fire (compulsory). An Identifiable Stunt is defined as a stunt action performed that requires extraordinary skill or endured discomfort as part of the performance.
Stunt Book Australia provides an online self promotion opportunity for all stunt professionals working within the Film and Television Industry. The detailed profiles of all Stuntmen and Stuntwomen allow users to do a casting specific search of the member database. As the only website specializing in facilitating the casting of stunt professionals in Australia, Stunt Book Australia is the top source of information for hiring stunt performers in Australia. Check out Colin Handley profile and CV
Graduates in Demand as Stunt Professionals
Our graduates now work as stunt professionals who apply the knowledge and skills learned during their Academy instruction. These stunt artists include those with stunt performer, stunt body replacement, stunt actor, stunt coordinator, and stunt rigger credits under their belts from blockbuster films such as Mad Max: Fury Road, Deadpool, Warcraft: The Beginning, The Matrix, Mission Impossible, and television shows including The Flash, Moby Dick, Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, and Lost World.
Recently, the prestigious organisation, Stunts Canada accepted our graduate, Ryan Handley, as a member. Stunts Canada members include world-class stunt performers.
Ryan works in Vancouver and Toronto, Canada on television shows such as Arrow, The 100, and The Flash. He is now a successful stunt actor who portrays Zoom, the lead villain, stylized as the Speed Demon, when he is masked, in The Flash.
Our Award Winning Graduates
Recently, our graduates, Chris Patton and Russell Ingram, won Taurus World Stunt Awards for work performed in Mad Max: Fury Road. These Awards are the equivalent of the Oscars… but solely focused on stunts.
WINNER – Mad Max: Fury Road: A stunt performer rides a motorcycle towards the War Rig performing a lay down. The bike and rider were attached to safety lines mounted on the War Rig that pulled slack with a ratchet system as he approached the War Rig. The rider was pulled to the final position where he grabbed the stunt woman’s legs, while the motorcycle was quick released. (Keir Beck, Russell Ingram, Guy Norris, Mick Roughan, Mark Wickham).
WINNER – Mad Max: Fury Road: Stunt performers are on top of giant poles made to move like metronomes, with two men on the bottom to assist the movement of the poles. The poles were on moving cars that chased a tanker. All performers were then able to transfer from the top of their pole to the tanker or pull people from cars. Some stunt performers were also holding weapons and props. (Sebastian Dickins, Pete Hill, Craig Morgan, Chris Patton, Judd Wild).
The stunt performers and coordinators from Mad Max: Fury Road are also the 2016 Screen Actors Guild Awards® honorees for Outstanding Action Performances by a Film and Television Stunt Ensemble.
If you would like to know more about how to become a stuntman then please contact me.