Tell about yourself and your background! *
I moved a lot as a kid. My parents, 1st gen Italian immigrants, didn't have much, so we were constantly on the move for a better deal, and a place to call home. This made me the perpetual "new kid", and painted a target on my back for trouble. I had my fair share of scraps, and finally, at my third school in as many years, I hatched a plan with another outcast: we'd fight each other as soon as we got off the bus, and keep it up until the bus turned the corner up the block. The thought went, if we looked crazy enough, maybe we'd be too crazy to mess with. Well... It worked! Even if we both were a bit banged up. Planting firmly the seeds of being a performer in my brain. We kept up the show for a couple weeks, just for good measure -- pulling no punches. My father got a good job, which took him to Asia for business. He began taking back Sub Martial arts flicks for me, from the golden era, bought by the dozen from hawkers at the airport, and we'd devour them. So, a passion was born. I got into Martial arts, Gymnastics, and wrestling. All this rounded me out as a fighter. I competed for years, while juggling multiple jobs, and saving money for college. I worked construction on nights and weekends, (one of 3 jobs), off the books for less than stellar conditions, both residential and industrial. The industrial side had me get over any fear I might've had of heights, as I'd erect up to 75' bits of industrial rack, by hand, no harness, dragging 30Lb crossbeams up the giant erector set with steel-toe boots and a tool belt, to make storage rooms the size of a home depot. The tar you'd blow out of your nose at the end of a shift was something, and I'm sure has led to a bit of my less than stellar life decisions. Still, I wanted to live my passion, so I sold my car after College, and rode a bike for two years, (despite all my partying friends calling me insane) to all my jobs, in order to save up and move to NYC, (all while performing in local playhouses). Sure the money was gone in months, but I'm still at it, and still loving the journey, which has expanded me in myriad ways. Far too many to detail... But I've learned the gamut of production from the inside out and back again, wearing and learning to wear all the hats as I made content with friends. Not to bad for a scrappy kid of immigrants, without roots, in my opinion.
What inspired you to become a stunt performer?
Aside from the obvious inspirations, like Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, the performance community itself was one of acceptance to me, after so many years of looking for a place to belong. Here in NYC, I was inspired by a few key players I'd met along the way, who showed me that this was a possible way to make a living. I won't blast them out, but I belonged to a number of training groups, and within one in particular, a couple had already been taking this seriously. So, I took their lead, and tried all the new angles I could to prepare myself.
What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a stunt behind it?
My greatest skill as a Stunt performer, I believe, is my situational awareness -- coming from both my years in martial arts, and all the indie productions I've worked throughout the years. I am very comfortable adapting to changing situations on the fly, and keeping the game face on, which is basically a film set, as cameras and lights move, details change, and each take is still paramount to nail, so we can shave the expensive minutes from a day. Not one particular stunt is behind this, but I'd wager it's lent itself to most days I've been fortunate enough to have on set.
What is the best part about being a stunt performer?
I mean... You show up as the hero. That's got to be the best thing about this, right? You're part of an elite group of athletes, called upon to do the things that others aren't either willing to, or can't afford the risk of trying. Then, we get to show up and do it. And do it reliably, repeatedly, and with a smile. This means that you get to train to be a hero, and gather the life skills of a prepared individual, over a desk job. That's pretty amazing, to me.
Tell your all-time favorite stunt story!
My first big stair fall was supposed to be a fight... But production mixed me up with another stunt player who specialized in stair falls. This seemed like great news to us both, as we'd both get a chance to round out our resumes. But on the day of the gag, I also inherited a high fall with a flip down a staircase. I pulled it off! 13 takes down a narrow set of un-padded stairs, and then a high fall the scene after for 6 takes onto nothing but a 6" pad. The actor even grabbed my sleeve, making most of my lower body miss the pad in one take... but I was, somehow, fine. Got to love when you're so tired the training takes over and protects you!
What advice would you give other stunt performers?
Work hard. Be humble. Be supportive of others. Write, shoot, and edit your own work, so that you know the craft. Learn a little about all the departments, so that you understand what their needs are without wasting time. Train, train, train, train, train. Always be learning. And never get too concerned with your own failures: you can always improve. You get one chance to make a first impression, so understand how you're perceived, and work on polishing that.
Please share your social media handles and how we can follow you!
Facebook Jared Blake DiCroce, https://www.facebook.com/Jaredblake7/
Please include any links to stunt reels or videos you'd like to share!