Tell us about yourself, Brian!
My name is Brian E. Neal, I am from Chicago, IL. I have a BS degree from Northern Illinois University. I was a gymnast and cheerleader. I currently coach tumbling when I am not doing stunt jobs.
I started off as a background worker, then moved to be a stand-in, until I started booking bigger projects. Later, I switched over to stunts and have not turned back since.
What inspired you to become a stunt person?
I had a few friends who were stunt performers prior to me looking into it and they said my tumbling skills could be useful in stunts. So, I started looking into stunt work and stunt schools.
I found that Chicago had Midwest Stunts, so I sent in my email with videos and the rest we know. Friends have always inspired me to be greater and it was the same in this case.
What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it?
I think my greatest skill is ground pounding. As a gymnast and cheerleader, I have fallen quite a bit and I was always afraid I would get hurt and then I could no longer perform my sport.
So, I taught myself how to save myself if something should go wrong while I was tumbling. I have “air sense”, I know where my body is while I am in the air, so I can quickly and safely save myself from hurting anything while falling. I also put Math behind it, so I can time things accordingly.
What is the best part about being a stunt performer?
For me, it is about helping to tell the story. We are a part of the story just as much as the actor/actress we are doubling or whatever stunt role we have. It is the job of making it believable to the audience.
Yeah some of the things we get to do are super cool sometimes and some would even seem a bit scary, but that is the feelings we want the audience to have in that moment to help tell the story.
What advice would you give other stunt people?
I’m still pretty new so I don’t know if I should be giving advice, but advice given to me by seasoned stunt professionals I’ve had the pleasure of working with these past few years went a little something like this: Always keep your head up.
Be the best at a skill but also expand your horizons to others. Not every job is for everyone and there are plenty of jobs (before Covid-19). Keep training, keep working!
Stunt Players Directory: https://www.stuntplayers.com/player/brian-neal/