What has been the biggest highlight of your career? Meeting Hal Needham who was my mentor and inspiration for my career. He convinced me to get into the business and then helped me along the way without giving me anything but insight into the business and advice.
I couldn’t use his name to get in doors because he said that would deprive me of learning the ups and downs of the business, but I could call him and ask him questions before I went to that door. That information was monumental.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned over the years as a stunt coordinator? Look at each and every stunt you set up as if it’s the first time. Don’t get careless with stunts you feel comfortable with. Those are the ones that can usually bite you. Lastly, Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse before you get to the set!
What are the greatest qualities you seek out in a stunt performer? The ability to comprehend and react during very dangerous situations in a split second. That means going over the explanation from the Action Designer and then breaking it down into what the stunt entails and everything that might go wrong with all aspects of the stunt, then assessing what you would do to correct it.
If you have that in your head before the sequence starts, you are way ahead of the game.
What advice would you give up and coming stunt performers?
Get a group of stunt people together and practice every aspect of the business (that you can safely) at least once a week. Stay sharp and in shape and video everything. Videos help to learn how to make your performance better and sometimes beneficial to show Action Designers later.
In the social media realm I sometimes catch videos that are posted of stunt people rehearsing and am impressed, which may lead to a job that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
What do you love most about the stunt community?
The comradery and family feeling of our community. We are risking our lives on a daily basis and you would think our community would be a tangle of raw nerves all the time.
But the real truth is that we band together and are all calmer and stronger because of it. We even joke about the dangerous things we do. No other department in our business has the tight relationships and closeness of our stunt community.