Stunt Performer Spotlight: Ardeshir Radpour

Featured Interview With Stunt Performer, Ardeshir Radpour.

Ardeshir Radpour was born in Tehran Iran in November of 1969 and moved to the United States in 1977.  As a Zoroastrian Persian sharing a tradition going back to the time of Cyrus the Great, Ardeshir has strived to keep alive and promote the proud history of the Ancient Persians.

His undergraduate degrees from the University of Southern California were in Political Science and History with emphasis in Business and a graduate degree from California State University Northridge in Political Science.

While attending USC, he was the captain of the Equestrian Polo Teams and upon his graduation began to play professionally and still maintains a professional status.  From the fundamentals of Dressage and polo to the Cavalry arts, Ardeshir spent everyday riding and training to achieve a classical and formal discipline in Horsemanship.

After completing his Bachelor’s degrees at USC, Mr. Radpour became the assistant coach and in 1999 was promoted to the Head Coaching Position.  Mr. Radpour was also one of the most renowned Riders of Traveler, the University of Southern California’s Trojan Mascot.

Mr. Radpour is an entertainment industry professional with an extensive background in film and television.  His networks in various departments and his previous business history have forged a natural path towards film production.

Prior to a full time career in the entertainment field, Mr. Radpour was the Managing Director and Founding Partner of Tridian Design and Development. Tridian was one of the first and leading Internet Design and Development firms in Los Angeles.  Tridian maintained a client list of Fortune 500 clients ranging from top tier entertainment and media, automotive, manufacturing, retail, education, hospitality, manufacturing and defense contractors.

In 2008 Mr. Radpour made a full time transition into the entertainment industry pursuing a path towards film production.  In 2011, Mr. Radpour met and joined forces with Gunnar Ryan Wiik, the founder of WR Entertainment and was announced as one of the in house producers for their production list of feature films.  Mr. Radpour has built an extensive network of extremely high net worth and influential individuals within the financial, polo and entertainment industries.

What inspired you to become a stunt person?

I was always around the film industry but never really thought about it seriously because I didn't know that it could be an option.  I owned a very successful tech company and I was playing polo professionally and when film work or commercial work came up I thought it was awesome and a nice opportunity.

In 2008, I parted ways from the tech world and decided to pursue it full time and never looked back.  When I got in to the world I realized how many unbelievably talented people there are and how exceptional so many of them are at what they do and that was beyond inspiring to me to further my craft in in areas that I had been extremely proficient or at expert level.  Things that I had done for 20 and 30 years but never thought of it as a tool for work.

Being a professional horseman, expert archer, rescue diver, weapons expert.  Now, I was watching people take what was a novelty and really utilizing it in a very specific way for film, and that was just inspiring beyond words. It is a very different skill set to do something for film than for real world.  

What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it?

I see everything from a much larger view than one actual stunt.  It is the way I have always been in my life.  When I train someone to ride, or shoot I see the entire picture.  Most people have a tendency to focus on one thing.  I see the whole picture and can very quickly pick out the weak spots and address them quickly.  Whether it is on the polo field which requires instantaneous decision making or from the numbers side to see the larger picture and make sure things stay within a function budget and real world.

Well, I see stunts from a production side as well as a performers side.  Performers can not perform if the budgets are not setting up the proper equipment and personnel to do the project. If the wrong people are selected to perform the stunts, then you end up from ground up destroying the budgets.  So if I am being hired to do something, I will not lie about whether I can do the job or not.  Which it is really never talked about openly, but we all know it.

I will always be honest and say if I can do a job and if I can, I will train so that I can over deliver.  I ride and train with horses every single day and have professionally for 30 years.  If for example an archery job comes up, I will go from shooting say 200 arrows a week to anywhere from 500 to 1000 arrows a day. And that is not a joke.  It is the same thing for me in every aspect of the job.

If I have a job in armor, I will live in the armor so I know it and can move in it and function.  The equipment and wardrobe are always familiar to me as something regular to me.  For a lot of people it is something they just put on and go.  But you can always tell the difference between those that know it and live it and those that are faking it for the moment.  So for me, I will not lie about anything and will only say I can do something if I can and will always strive to over deliver.

What is the best part about being a stunt performer?

Without a doubt being surrounded by people who are better than you, who know more, do more and inspire you to not be complacent.  I know what I do and I know where I can be better, until I see someone do something that I never even thought of and then I think to myself, wow, thank you so much for giving me even a more broad vision.  So see talented women and men pushing the level of art and performance to better themselves and their craft.  

What advice would you give other stunt people?

Don't lie about what you actually do.  I see and hear this all the time.  It is the number one problem I see and hear other performers stunt professional complain about.  Don't lie to get a job and then try and figure it out.  What some people have trained their whole lives to do, you are not going to pick up in a few lessons.

Furthermore, you are taking jobs away from people who are experts at what they do and they will remember you for it.  I was asked if I can throw knives.  My answer was yes, but I also said I am not your guy for this.  You need some people who are experts at this and I put in a couple of names.  That is not my expertise and I will not take a job away.

Second example, ask a stunt performer if they would do a motorcycle stunt and the immediate answer is NO.  Very smart, but ask them if they can do horse stunts and they will immediately say yes.  So let me get this straight..  The motorcycle that has no opinion you will stay away from, but the horse that has a massive opinion, you will act like it is no big deal.  Every single aspect of say the motorized stunt world is filled with people that are experts in what they do, what they are surrounded by, what they have been taught and continue to teach each other and far far far more than that.  They are titans of what they do.

It is the same in the horse world.  I am so amazed by some of the things that many of the professional stunt riders do and so respectful for their experience and expertise and honored to know quite a few of them, and would consider myself their students in many many areas.  And this is coming from someone that has trained with some of the best horse professionals in the world.  I come around some of these guys and girls and I am in awe and respect them tremendously.

You never stop learning.  And the only way to do that is to respect the world you looking at and do not degrade it by lying about being able to do it.

Anything else you would like to tell the community about?

We need to do more to protect ourselves and we need to unite more.  We are losing our foothold and if we are not careful, the industry will leave us behind.  So less of the back stabbing and cut throat attitude of getting a job.  There are plenty of jobs.

What we need is to unite together more, make our union stronger and make sure they understand that without stunts and stunt performers and stunt coordinators, you could scrap almost 90 percent of the movies that are made.  It can not be stunts for stunts and actors for actors and everyone else for themselves.

Stunt coordinators, stunt performers and the film industry can not survive without each other.  The worst thing that we can do is be divided and self serving.