Scott, tell about yourself and stunts!
I grew up in the mountains in Colorado. I spent most of my time jumping out of trees, playing sports, and just about anything else my friends and I could get away with. The plan was to enjoy these things as much as I could before I had to “grow up” and get serious.
I graduated with my bachelor’s degree and started looking for a job in pharmaceutical or medical equipment sales to save for medical school. However, the timing was terrible as the job market was sparse. Out of pure desperation, I took a seasonal job at Universal Studios Orlando in the Holiday Grinchmas show, because I was so sick of waiting tables. Little did I know, that would change the path of my entire life.
While between shows one day there were some fellow performers working out to get ready for a “agility test.” When I asked them about it, they said it was a requirement to pass the agility test to work on a stunt show. That got my interest right away. These people were doing the things I did for fun as a kid and getting an extra bump in pay for doing it. I was sold. I went to the audition and agility test, and was hired to the Wild, Wild, Wild, West Stunt Show.
I worked the entire circuit in Orlando. Wild West, Indiana Jones, Lights Motors Action, T2, Sinbad, and even some most have never heard of. I could not believe I was getting paid to do this. On top of the fun job, I was being trained and mentored by generous veterans like Glenn Wilder and John Zimmerman, along with fellow cast members at the shows.
Then thanks to one of those men, Dean Grimes, I was able to book my first SAG job on the show BURN NOTICE for Artie Malesci. I was fortunate to be giving a string of opportunities and open doors that led to the career I enjoy today.
What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it?
It is hard to put a finger on it exactly. I think it is having a diverse skill set. I was usually good at anything I tried, although not usually the best. I worked hard to build a wide skill set, so that I could be valuable not matter what the stunt coordinator needed.
What is the best part about being a stunt performer?
My favorite answer to this question is this: “I get paid to do the things my parents grounded me for when I was a kid!”
That is not an exaggeration. I actually had jobs sledding in the house (OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY) and chasing cows on a 4-wheeler (VACATION) both things that I remember getting grounded for by my parents!
Tell your all-time personal favorite stunt story!
It was my first time as 1x. I was doubling John Cusack in a movie in Atlanta. We were filming in a little dive bar on the North side of the city when “snow-pocalypse” hit. Our producer walked onto the set and informed us that we would be shutting down due to the state of emergency declared by the city.
The problem was, the streets were all shut down because of heavy icing and no salt trucks. We were stuck there for the night. It sounded like a dire situation, but production opened up a tab for us at the pub. John Cusack, who had gotten out to his hotel, texted me and offered his trailer as a place to sleep. We had food, drinks, and an amazing crew we were going to be spending the evening with.
It was that point we found out that it was our stunt coordinator’s birthday. All I can say is that it was an amazing evening that I will never forget!
What advice would you give other stunt people?
There will always be someone more talented or lucky or better connected. If you love what you do, control what you can. Out work the other performers! You can’t train too much or learn too much. Be a filmmaker, not just a stunt performer.
Is there a piece of stunt-related knowledge you would like to share with the community?
Read the contract! This is a job. A fun job, but a job never less. Know what has been agreed upon on your behalf. It is unbelievable to me how many people work in this industry and don’t know the benefits that they are contractually obligated to get, but aren’t. Read the contract.
Anything else you would like to tell the community about?
This community was built on relationships. Form them and keep them. Don’t do it so you can get ahead, even though that will be a side effect. When someone offers help accept it, and when you can help do it.
The more we stay connected to those roots the more this stays the career we all absolutely LOVE!