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Stunt Performer Spotlight: Richard Fike
Richard, tell the community about how you got your start in the stunt industry. I unknowingly began my career in stunts in 1986 when I was asked to coordinate the action for an NFL Fantasy Video featuring players from the Cleveland Browns. The project was called “Masters of the Gridiron” and was produced to raise money for United Way. The producers reached out to me because they knew of my martial arts skills and asked me to write the action sequences, then choreograph all the fighting between the Browns players and their on-screen opponents. At that time, I had no experience coordinating action for film but had considerable experience in coordinating action for martial arts demonstrations and training videos. The big difference here was that these were professional football players that absolutely could not be injured, and I was responsible for creating all the action while keeping them safe. Taking charge and getting things done, was never an issue for me because of my experiences in the Army. I faced pressure and responsibility on a daily basis. When in charge of a group of highly motivated professionals and responsible for millions of dollars of equipment, you need to be a confident leader. You must gain the respect and loyalty of your team in order to accomplish your mission. This requires you to plan and rehearse each task over and over again until you get it right Now ten of my warriors are standing outside a Castle in a field surrounded by 10 real life pumped up super heroes with metal swords, spears, and axes in their hands. They looked at us just waiting to be released. We had conducted the appropriate safety brief and rehearsed as much as possible. Then you take a moment and ask yourself, are we doing the right thing here? It’s like turning lose a bunch of over grown kids with toys that can kill you. Looking back, I did everything a coordinator is supposed to do, and at the end of the day we were successful in shooting ten individual fight scenes and several wide master shots in just eight hours without any injuries. When the video was released, I received some exposure for my involvement and shortly afterwards was asked by a local casting agency to work on several other film projects such as “Double Dragon.” I was still a rookie but responsible for wrangling martial artists from the Cleveland area to work as extras, then train them with a focus on set etiquette. Evidently I did a pretty good job because they elevated me to an on-camera police officer with a fight scene and automatic weapon. I got the chance to be bounced around by two stunt legends, Danny Wong and Chad Randall. I felt confident out there and I will never forget Chad telling me that it was nice to find someone who could work out a fight scene on the spot, and could keep it real with no injuries. That was all the motivation I needed to work even harder. I appreciated the support the stunt crew gave me, and to this day I share their advice with other stunt professionals who work with me. Shortly after Masters and Dragon, I began to seriously consider a career in stunts. At that time I was employed by the U.S. Department of Defense in Cleveland and for the most part had established my career; however, I began to work more and more as an extra and soon as a principal on several other projects eventually deciding that this was the path for me. Being from Ohio you can imagine how hard it was to learn the stunt business, but eventually Ohio passed some great tax incentives for film and television and soon we became a destination for Producers. I worked many projects in a non-union status until I finally earned my SAG card in 1999. I learned all I could from anyone willing to talk with me. One project lead to another and 21 years later I am still here coordinating or performing stunts for film and television. So, that’s how it began for me. What has been the biggest highlight of your career? While being hired by RA Rondell for the “Avengers” is high on my list, the first project that I coordinated was in 1999 for a film called “A Better Way to Die,” which has to be my biggest highlight because it was my first SAG project. It was written, produced and featured Ohio native Scott Wiper who gave me my first break as a coordinator. We met and he asked me some tough questions, then we went out for some stunt driving where I aggressively convinced (that’s another story) Mr. Wiper to bring me on board. Well he trusted me, and once again I was placed in a position that could end my career very quickly if I screwed up. I soon was in charge of my first action packed feature. I hired all local martial artists who trained with me, and together we earned our SAG cards on this one. A major win for all of us. Tell about the formation of the Stunt Predators. I had already established a successful martial arts career and dojo in North East Ohio, and was successful in coordinating my first feature film. Soon I was being contacted by local producers to coordinate their project, so the next logical step for me was to use my dojo as my base of operations for our stunt training. As a result, together with many of my students and fellow martial artists from across Ohio I formed Stunt Predators USA & SFX. While there was so much more to learn, I felt confident that we could perform at the level Hollywood demanded and stunt coordinators expected. I also felt that with the Ohio film incentive being established, eventually there would be a need for Ohio based stunt professionals. I am extremely happy with the growth of our stunt crew and very proud of the performances we have delivered to date. I also am very fortunate to have several talented and motivated stuntmen who have been with me for over twenty years and have worked either as my assistant or have stepped in for me and coordinated projects on their own. I put my faith in my team and we all work well together. I try to operate our group the same way I operated in the Army, as a military team – not necessarily displaying the “tough guy” image, but more like a precision team of experts with high standards. We focus on the training and improving our individual skills while seeking out as much expertise as possible for advice. All we ask is to give us the chance to show you what we can offer. The SFX part of Stunt Predators represents our explosives, pyrotechnics and weapons department that I am licensed in. Stunt Predators motto is “We Take the Risks – You Take the Credit”. What would you say are your strong points as a stunt performer and stunt coordinator? As a stunt performer I enjoy every facet of the stunt business and have managed to develop a certain level of proficiency in most of the expected skill sets needed to work in this industry. This definitely helps me to be a better stunt coordinator. If I have to choose my strong points I would say I excel at stunt fighting, choreography, high falls and stunt driving. I have spent many years of my life in traditional martial arts, close quarter combat training to include the use of modern and primitive weapons. I grew up in a racing family starting with go carts, mini bikes, dirt bikes and midget racers. I received advanced training in high speed, defensive and offensive driving skills while serving in the military special operations world. Our training came from multiple sources as well as NASCAR. As a coordinator, I am good at breaking down the action in scripts and working within a budget. I’ve been told that I am good time manager, organizer and leader. I like taking charge and getting the job done. I work hard to keep things safe on set, while placing my focus on preparation and providing options for the Director. What are the strongest qualities of Team Stunt Predators? The strongest qualities of Team Stunt Predators is the diversity of its members and the different skill sets we bring to the table. I don’t recruit stunt performers nor do I run a stunt school. My team trains on a monthly basis. I like to bring in other coordinators who I have worked with to not only share their tips and advice with my group, but they also get a chance to see who we are. Some of these legends include J.J. Perry, Garrett Warren, Simon Rhee, Stuart Wilson and Johnny Martin. People hear about us and some reach out with an interest in stunts. It takes considerable persistence to reach me but if a person is serious and has a great attitude, I usually allow them to sit in on our training. Based on what I/we observe I allow them to return and train with us. Being part of my group is simple; work hard, be on time, think safety and commit to self-improvement. Like the military, mission success means confidence in self, confidence in my equipment and confidence in the team. Aside from being an incredible group of stunt performers, what other services does the team provide? Stunt Predators is capable of providing professional services in many areas. In addition to the expected stunt skills, we are often asked to provide “Proof of Concept” action sequences and editing for Directors. We have experienced riggers with equipment, a full service stunt vehicle prep department, process trailers, licensed heavy equipment operators with CDLs, world record fire burn experts; we hold state and federal license in explosives, pyrotechnics and weapons, licensed drone operators, water-craft and water safety teams, action training for actors, consulting for martial arts, military and police tactics and equipment rentals (mini tramps, mat/crash pads etc.). We also focus on injury prevention and wellness holding certifications in Covid Compliance protocols and Concussion Identification and response. What is the greatest lesson you have learned over the years as a stunt coordinator? Safety, Safety, Safety must be the number one priority on set. Selling the shot for the director is priority number two. My philosophy has always been to be one step ahead of everyone else – to be 100% ready for the next shot 100% of the time, and if that means spending extra hours on your own time to get it right, then do it. This will not only increase the safety environment, but will save time and money which will make the Producers very happy. My crew understands this philosophy and they willing jump in without questions or complaints. They know I will fight for them at all levels, and I know they have my back. Every day on set I expect frequent changes in the action, so I always plan options for the Director. Very often you are asked to increase the action or make a change at the last minute. Having options allows you to satisfy most Directors requests; sometimes you have to take heat by saying no. NEVER be pressured into action that has not been properly planned and rehearsed. That’s why they hire you – they expect you to make those hard calls. Don’t be afraid to step up and make the right call when it comes to safety. You will not only gain the confidence of the cast and crew, you will reinforce the need for safety with your stunt crew. Most importantly, the safety protocols you enforce today may save somebody’s life tomorrow. What are the greatest qualities you seek out in a stunt performer? Proper attitude, motivation and athletic skills are priority. With these qualities, you can mold anyone into a quality stunt performer. I want a calculated risk taker, but not a risk taker for the sake of risk alone. Coordinators want their crew to know their limitations and are not afraid to say I need help or I am not ready for this stunt. I look for a team player who listens and takes direction well. What advice would you give up and coming stunt performers? Be pro-active. Learn as much as you can about the stunt world before you start approaching a stunt coordinator for work. If you’re already involved in stunts, have your stunt bag packed which should include an updated head shot and resume in an 8x10 yellow envelope. Be patient and don’t expect acceptance immediately. Know that this is one of the most difficult jobs you will ever apply for. The good news is, if you possess the right attitude and are willing to work hard, you have a good chance of becoming a stunt professional. The stunt community is a small community and word gets around quickly. Take advantage of every opportunity to promote yourself, but be smart and don’t be obnoxious. Speak little and listen a lot. I learned the hard way. I made my share of mistakes believe me. Fortunately when I screwed up, I had a few coordinators who took the time to talk some sense into me and to give me advice that kept me on the right path. For those wanting to work, go out and find it. One way is to get listed with Stunt Players Directory & Stunt Hustle which will put your face and skills out there for the stunt community to see. Don’t just wait around for a phone call, go out and find where the next project is filming and ask to see the stunt coordinator. Anything else you’d like to tell the community about? I am excited and honored that Stunt Predators was chosen to be the first stunt group featured with your organization. We always welcome any advice from the stunt professionals on how we can improve. Located in the Midwest, we are willing to travel anywhere, anytime and are confident that we can meet your expectations. Always remember where you started, be a loyal team member and make an effort to return the favor. I am thankful for all the coordinators who gave me the opportunity to be part of the best job in the world. I will always be grateful to J.J. Perry, Simon Rhee, Chris Carnel, RA Rondell, Chuck Picerni, Kurt Bryant, Andy Dylan, Chris Barnes, Clayton Barber, Larnell Stovall, Eric Norris, Mark Vanselow, Stuart Wilson, Mike Massa, Gary Powell and many more who took a chance on me. Stunt Predators USA: https://stuntpredatorsusa.com Stunt Players Directory: https://www.stuntplayers.com/player/richard-fike/
Stunt Performer Spotlight: Guido "Italian Sharkman" Magnani
Tell about yourself and story, Guido! My name is Guido Magnani and I'm a world traveller, free-diver, underwater explorer, photographer and videographer. My passions are exploring the underwater world and interacting with the wildlife within. I've had over 100 hours with the sharks, I could say I'm an expert in shark interaction. Filmmaking and stunt work are also some of my biggest passions. Since I was a little kid I've loved challenging myself with extreme action. One day I met an old friend who asked me if I remembered when I was a little kid in the pool, beating everyone underwater, and that I should take a course. That day something happened... My life changed completely after taking a freediving course 7 years ago - I got the call from the ocean. In the beginning I focused more on going deep underwater, just enhancing my performance in freediving, Three years later I was in the Maldives and that's where my addiction to sharks began. What inspired you to become a stunt person? I think it's just the way I am, a risk taker, since I was a kid I’ve loved challenging myself underwater and in all sports. As a challenge, I'd even hold my breath underwater for three minutes in a sink because my friend didn't believe me - and I was untrained when I was 14 years old. I always dreamt to be the protagonist of my own movie, acting as my own stuntman. I like taking calculated risks and have been inspired by Sylvester Stallone for writing and starring in his movie as a protagonist (Rocky) , and Tom Cruise for doing his own stunts in the films he's in. What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it? It would be freediving in any ocean condition with wildlife - especially sharks. Going deep in free immersion for 140 feet and 100 feet without equipment, only my mask and snorkel. If I train I know I could go deeper but I don’t have the ocean where I live. I've never been caught on fire like in the movies but I think I could be good as I could hold my breath at a maximum of 4 minutes 40 seconds static so I would love to try it. Recently, I went freediving under ice with a 2.5 mm wetsuit for 30 minutes with a water temperature of 4 celsius and an altitude of 2000 metres, no problem. Freediving and animal interaction are my favorite and where I have more skills, but even climbing, and driving motorcycles and cars, I'm very good. What is the best part about being a stunt performer? Doing what I love and feeling alive when I exceed my limit in the moment of the stunt. Being in the movie industry was also a big passion of mine. Seeing a performance that I have to face completed and challenging myself. I did not expect to be able to face certain things in the past, sharks were one of my biggest fears until I turned it into a passion. What advice would you give other stunt people? Just be yourself and follow your heart, it doesn't matter what other people think, they are not you, and you only know what you want to do. Stunt Players Directory: https://www.stuntplayers.com/player/guido-magnani/
Stunt Performer Spotlight: Ken Rose
Tell the community about yourself! My name is Ken Rose (or Blackhawk to North-East Ohio wrestling fans). I have been a performer, in one form or other, my whole life. I started to train in pro-wrestling at 26 and was hooked. I met my wife (who is also a stunt performer) in the wrestling ring a year later. In 2012 we were extras for the first time on the movie Underdogs. Soon after that we were told that if we wanted to work in stunts to contact Mr. Rick Fike and Stunt Predators U.S.A. So, in early 2013 we started to train and work with Mr. Fike. What inspired you to become a stunt person? I am an independent professional wrestler and thought that the skills that I learned there would translate well into the world of stunts. What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it? I am very agile and flexible for a 6' 4”, 290# man. I pride myself on surprising people when they watch me move. What is the best part about being a stunt performer? I love the chance to help tell part of the story safely through my physicality. What advice would you give other stunt people? Never stop learning. Anything else you would like to tell the community about? Find a stunt group in your area and continue to train whenever you can. That is the best way to stay safe and be ready when the call comes.
Stunt Performer Spotlight: Devin Morgret
Tell the community about yourself! I fell in love with parkour and extreme activities like it at a young age. I would climb up and then jump off my garage roof just so I could feel like an action hero. It scared my mom but it gave me something to do when I was bored. I would set up wooden ramps for my bike and jump them, doing that for hours at a time. I wanted something more out of my young athleticism so I started going to an American Kenpo Karate class when I was still in Junior High and eventually joined a parkour gym led by Dylan McCaughin . I love the movement of parkour and am always pushing myself to move faster and fly higher. After learning a lot about what I was capable of, I started looking for stunt teams in the area I could train and grow with. It did not take long until I found Stunt Predators USA. I reached out to Mr. Fike to request an invitation, and he graciously invited me to one of his training sessions in August of 2020. I have been looking forward to each one after that! What inspired you to become a stunt person? I had always wanted to get into the film industry, whether it was acting or being the cinematographer; however, I always loved the thrill of action. It wasn’t until I watched 2016’s Jason Bourne that I finally fell in love with the idea of being a stunt man and doing the driving and the fighting for the big shot actors. I loved the choreography of the movie and everything that went into making it. I realized I wanted to be a part of that and that is what started me down the path I am on now! What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it? I would probably say my greatest skill is my ability to learn quickly and work hard. I think that most (if not all) stunt performers would agree that working hard is a necessity in the industry. Understanding my limits and pushing the boundaries of what I can or can’t do is a skill I am continuing to refine. What is the best part about being a stunt performer? I would say the best part of being a stunt performer is being part of a community that works more like a family than anything else! I am so thankful for Mr. Fike allowing me to be part of the Stunt Predators team and giving me an opportunity to be a part of this amazing community. What advice would you give other stunt people? Don’t give up on something just because it seems hard to attain . I am still learning new things every day I would have never thought possible when I was younger. Keep pushing forward and listen to those who have gone before you. They know more than you, so don’t let your age or your pride get in the way of learning about something new! Anything else you would like to tell the community about? I would just like to thank Mr. Fike for allowing me to be a part of Stunt Predators USA and I look forward to each and every training workshop. I would also like to thank Hunter for getting this amazing site up and running and I look forward to what the future has in store for Stunt Hustle! Stunt Players Directory: https://www.stuntplayers.com/player/devin-morgret/
Stunt Performer Spotlight: Tori Popovich
Tell the community about yourself! I became a part of Team Stunt Predators in 2015 after being a lifetime Martial Artist. I started Martial Arts at the age of 7 and have studied multiple disciplines since such as Kwanmukan Karate, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Capoeira, and Sanchi Ryu Karate. What inspired you to become a stunt person? My senior year of college I realized that I wanted a different path from my major and while other students wrote papers to grad schools I wrote papers to be accepted into the stunt world for local productions and producers. My older brother studied film and after visiting him in college and sitting in on his classes I was forever changed. What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it? Paramount to safety - my perseverance and discipline has given me the opportunity to constantly grow; learning new skills and further developing current. What is the best part about being a stunt performer? The community is vibrant and super talented! Words fail in comparison to the atmosphere that is tangible while on set. What advice would you give other stunt people? (this quote has always been a mantra of mine... I hope it inspires others) "The habit of persistence is the habit of victory. – Herbert Kaufman." Persistence, the one thing failure cannot stop. Keep at it, success will come. Tell the community about yourself! The community is ever growing and changing but the relationships you make are long lasting. They continue outside the stunt world and intersect in ways that continue to amaze me. Stunt Predators: https://stuntpredatorsusa.com/Bios/ToriPopovich.pdf Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tori.popovich/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/Toripopovich/?fbclid=IwAR0SnCW7F5ZUsamq8r3FMugTxV0nqZp2RHw4467vWLiCFFWYzs8DLgdJrl0
Stunt Performer Spotlight: Joseph Griffo
Tell the community about yourself! Being an active Little Person, I was involved in sports in high school playing football soccer and other sports. Years later, I was invited to play basketball with the world-famous Hollywood Shorties and was introduced to little people actors and stunt performers. I was extremely interested in the film industry that I decided to leave my 15-year electronic technician job to pursue my new venture. My first experience in the entertainment business was a wrestling stunt gig on “Grunt the Wrestling Movie” with Armando Guerrero as the stunt coordinator. The bug bit me and I immediately loved the thrill of the stunt and acting world. What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it? My greatest skill as a stunt performer our full fire burns (“Van Helsing,"Leprechaun in the Hood,” Hardees”) and wire work (“Underdog” as “Peter Dinklage’s stunt double," “Hardees Star”). I am an experienced Suit Performer & Actor. What is the best part about being a stunt performer?
The best part of being a stunt performer is learning all the new techniques, getting experience with car chases, wire work, fire burns, fight techniques and the most important is being a Stunt Safety Person on set for the Production Crew and the Stunt Crew. What advice would you give other stunt people? Train and learn all the aspects of the stunt industry and listen to your Stunt Coordinator. Safety and communication always are the most import advice I can give to other stunt people. Anything else you would like to tell the community about? I encourage Stunt Coordinators to find and use a stunt double for little person or dwarf. Please Use the right stunt-double to match the size and dwarfism of the Actor! Create a realistic world using little people instead of using Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI). Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thethrillseekr Stunt Players: https://www.stuntplayers.com/player/joseph-griffo/ LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joseph-griffo-5770b012/ IMDb: https://imdb.me/josephsgriffo
Stunt Performer Spotlight: David Roth
Tell the community about yourself! I was born and raised in the East Side suburbs of Cleveland. From the time I was four years old, I began training in martial arts, eventually becoming a black belt thirteen years later and teaching during that time as well. Since I was a kid, I loved pretending to be different characters, throwing myself around the house during make-believe fights and storylines I would concoct. As I got older, my interest in gymnastic abilities such as flips and handsprings grew, and I began to work on various tricks during water breaks at my martial arts classes. I've always been somebody who likes to push their boundaries, trying out new sports and building new physical skills, so entering the industry was always a dream of mine that seemed unattainable at the time. My first exposure came at maybe 7 or 8 years old when I briefly made it on the news during a special event at the local mall. It happened totally by chance, but I remember how excited I was about the experience and wanted to have another. My entry into the stunt world came in a very similar fashion during my Junior year of high school when I met Rick Fike at a regional martial arts event my dojo was hosting. After helping out with one of the seminars, my dad called me over to meet Mr. Fike and I was fortunate enough for him to invite me and my dad to come to his upcoming Stunt Predators workshop. I remember we did stair falls and I had such a great time that I've been coming back for nine years now. What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it? I wouldn't say that I have a greatest skill. My martial arts background helps me with fight scenes and selling the shot, but I have always had more of a "jack of trades, master of none" mindset. I find enjoyment from trying new things and am driven to see how far I can push myself with them. Sometimes it's both a blessing and a curse how difficult it is to find things that I don't like to do. Because of that, I would say my affinity for picking up new talents is my greatest asset. What is the best part about being a stunt performer? The uniqueness of the job. As a stunt performer, you're exposed to so many new skills, experiences, and people. Through all of my sports and hobbies, no other group compares to stunt professionals. There are infinite new experiences to be had and that's something I can always get excited about. What advice would you give other stunt people? As a novice still, I am more in the student's chair than the teacher's. What I can say is when you love what you're doing, the hard work and dedication is always worth it.
Stunt Performer Spotlight: Stan Van Pelt
Tell the community about yourself! Picked up some basic parkour at an early age. I've done Martial arts for 16 years. I'm a Second degree black belt in Tai shin do Karate, With years of experience in Capoeira and wrestling. I have been training stunts with Team stunt predators since 2015 What inspired you to become a stunt person? In highschool a friend of mines showed me videos of Multi Level Moves and David bell I've also always loved martial art films. What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it? Capoeira I originally learned it from the theater kids in Highschool that Learned it from one of the people I practice with now. What is the best part about being a stunt performer? Its fun and I'm always learning. What advice would you give other stunt people? Train as much as you can and have a diverse skill set.
Stunt Performer Spotlight: Jami Kinton
Tell the community about yourself! I took martial arts as a kid for years and was really excited to get back into it as an adult when I met Mr. Fike nearly seven years ago. Shortly thereafter, I began attending the stunt classes and quickly found a new passion. While I've also been acting and modeling for 18 years, stunt definitely takes precedence. I absolutely love the challenge, and opportunities to constantly keep learning, and I thoroughly enjoy the camaraderie displayed in our stunt school. Additionally, I am one of the in-game hosts for the Cleveland Indians and a performer and host for the Fusion LIVE show, which does live entertainment for kids and families access the country. What inspired you to become a stunt person? My love for martial arts and Richard Fike. He is huge inspiring for everyone in our class. He has worked so incredibly hard to get where he is and definitely a huge motivator for me to keep training hard. What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it? Falls. My favorite story is when I took a backward stair fall in the feature film "I SEE YOU" with Helen Hunt. I had an 8-foot fall, basically had to jump back 8 feet, and had to hit my head on the window sill. I'm only 5'1" and Mr. Fike told me if I didn't jump far enough, I wouldn't hit the window sill and would obviously have to do it over. But if I jumped too far, I could break my neck. I did it in one take and that was the end of the story. It was pretty thrilling. What is the best part about being a stunt performer? It is one of the most challenging things I've ever done. There are so many opportunities to learn and grow and I love that. I love constantly being challenged to conquer my fears. What advice would you give other stunt people? Be a go-getter and don't just wait for the opportunities to come to you. Ask others for help and advice and follow up on what they tell you.
Stunt Performer Spotlight: David Matchinga
Tell the community about yourself! My name is David Matchinga, I am 19 years old, I am a stunt professional working under Stunt Predators USA and a freshman at Ohio University. What inspired you to become a stunt person? Ever since I was young, the action that I saw in movies and TV shows captivated me. I had multiple conversations with Mr. Fike over the years and he would show me how stunt-work was played out in the real world. Mr. Fike’s experiences and growing up seeing all the amazing films he has done was what drove me to become and stuntman. When I was the right age and had enough experience, he gave me the opportunity to work with him. What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it? My greatest skill would be falls, taking hits and acrobatics. Before I got into stunts, I was a male gymnast for ten years and I was state champion for my level of gymnastics in three of the six events. Over those ten years I got pretty good at taking hits and falls. Being able to apply the skills that I have from my years as a gymnast have definitely enhanced by abilities when it comes to performing stunts. What is the best part about being a stunt performer? To me, the best thing is the great places we see, people we meet, and the great industry that we are building. Stunt Predators has played a huge role in my stunt career as well because of all the knowledge, talent, and skills that I have been able to learn from other stuntmen and women. This group has so much experience, talent, dedication, and knowledge that we all share and that is what makes Stunt Predators a great team. What advice would you give other stunt people? Some advice that I would give is to diversify your knowledge and skillsets by surrounding yourself with as many experienced stunt professionals as possible. Train with them frequently and safely so you can broaden your skills while not hurting yourself in the process. Professional stunts should be calculated risks and performed properly with every possible safety precaution. If you fail to take safety seriously then you won’t be doing stunt work for long. What would you like to tell the community about? I would like the community, especially in Ohio, to realize just how many careers and jobs are created through stunts and the film industry. We hope that Ohio can keep growing in popularity with film production and stunt opportunities. Bringing more movies, TV shows, and commercials to Ohio is great for our local stunt professionals as well as our economy. Stunt Predators is a fantastic group of professional stunt men and women that are eager to work and help our community. Favorite Stunt story: My favorite stunt story is when Stunt Predators filmed “Cherry” in 2019. We filmed it in Cleveland, Ohio during the fall and winter months. My favorite part of it was filming the boot camp training scenes with Tom Holland while being directed by the Russo brothers. Spending that time filming some brutally cold military scenes with some great people and getting to know the actors is one of my favorite memories of my stunt career.
Stunt Performer Spotlight: Robert Butler
Tell about yourself, Robert! I grew up heavily involved in martial arts, acting and sports. I started martial arts when I was 4 years old and always wanted to learn as much as possible from anyone that I could. I earned black belts in Taekwondo, Jiu Jitsu, Kwanmukan Karate, and Taiho-jutsu. I was fortunate in my organization to have different instructors with different backgrounds so that I could continue to be challenged and grow as a student. Outside of open hand martial arts and ground fighting I received a black belt in Kobudo, which is martial arts weapons. I am proficient in bo staff, nunchaku, sai, tonfa and kama. I was part of the theater since an early age, doing stage performances through most of college. I was active with stage combat and also learned back stage crew work. Whenever I wasn’t a performer on stage, I was usually a stagehand backstage. I loved the environment and those in the field. After teaching martial arts many years I found my calling as a police officer. I have been in law enforcement for over 13 years. During my time in law enforcement, I have been a K9 handler, SWAT team member, subject control instructor and police baton instructor. I feel like my background in martial arts provided me the proper mindset to remain balanced and be able to mentally and physically help those in my community. As a law enforcement officer, I have been trained in handguns, shotguns, long guns, taser, pepper spray and other weapons related to the field. Being a police officer allowed me to be on the set for many different movies filmed in my city. During one of those movies, I ran into one of my martial arts instructors, Mr. Rick Fike, I found out he was a stunt coordinator and went to work to convince him that I would be a great addition to his team. Knowing my martial arts background firsthand and my time in law enforcement Mr. Fike took a chance on me and allowed me to attend a few stunt workshops to see if I could join his team (Stunt Predators). The team focuses on safety, listening, and working with one another, I’m happy to state that I was eventually allowed to join the team and have been apart of Stunt Predators for over 4 years. As a member of stunt predators, I have been given some unique opportunities. I have been able to train in stair falls, ladder falls, high falls, action fighting, drags and much more. I have been able to take seminars from Garrett Warren and JJ Perry. In movies such as Assassin’s Code and Last Summer I was a stunt diver on set, using my scuba diving experience. What inspired you to become a stunt person? I have always been obsessed with cinema, I love movies and pretty much watch everything. Specifically, I have always been drawn to action movies due to my martial arts background. I have joined demo teams and done stage combat just to be a part of the action, I loved doing something that would make the audience say “wow.” Being on the sets for so many movies I took the time to watch how stunts were set up and just loved every minute of it. Great stunts make movies memorable and have a lasting impact on the viewer. I have always wanted to be that performer who gives the audience those memorable moments. What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it? In many ways I believe I am jack of all trades. Due to my martial arts and law enforcement backgrounds, it makes me uniquely qualified for many different types of stunts. One skill that I have used several times is my scuba diving experience, I have dived in salt and fresh water and have done over 20 different dives around North America. One thing that I feel truly separates me from those around me is my ability to listen and learn. In this craft you need to be able to listen and follow directions. Being a part of Stunt Predators I know safety is the most important thing and you need to be able to listen and follow the directions exactly as they are given. I have heard of those that are too impatient or cocky, I’m neither of those things. When I arrive on set, I am mentally prepared to do what must be done and follow my instructions so that everyone can remain safe on set, I am completely focused on the job at hand. I am like a sponge when I am shown something, I watch all aspects of what is going on so that I can master what is expected of me and provide the best product. I know how to hit my marks and watch my surroundings. What is the best part about being a stunt performer? The easy answer is; it’s just a ton of fun and super enjoyable. While this is true the best part is producing the right product for your director, coordinator and those around you. Successfully doing a stunt is really satisfying when it is done safely and correctly. After you complete a stunt and a director states, they got what they wanted I feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and it’s just the best. Even during workshops or trainings getting the approval of the coordinator is a really great part and instills a sense of pride and accomplishment. What advice would you give other stunt people? Be safe and know your limits. It’s easy to think you can do anything but a mature person knows when to say they can’t. I’m always a fan of pushing yourself, but not at the sake of safety. If you have not trained for something and you are unsure if you can do a stunt, it’s best to take a step back and err on the side of caution. It’s best to speak up than to let a stunt go horribly wrong. Anything else you would like to tell the community about? I’m ready to work! I have a lot of flexibility in my job and am ready to go anywhere. Tell your all-time personal favorite stunt story! I was filming Smoketown in Kentucky where I played a stunt police officer during a riot. I had a well-choreographed stunt fight with another stunt performer which we practiced repeatedly before it was shot. We had to perform this fight almost 50 times over the course of 6-8 hours. At one point they deployed smoke canisters to simulate tear gas during a riot, water cannons were shooting people, protestors were breaking windows and throwing fake bricks. It was a pretty wild experience and reminded me of my law enforcement trainings that I had gone through but never utilized on the road. I never got caught up during the shoot as my training kicked in, but in hindsight it was pretty awesome and something I tell a lot of people about, I’ve watched that scene more times than I can count. It was a really great and fun time! Stunt Players Directory: https://www.stuntplayers.com/player/robert-butler/
Stunt Classifieds: Noitom Motion Capture
Tell the stunt community a little about yourself! Hello. I'm James Croak and I approve this message. I'm a stunt performer when they let me and a mini motion capture stage manager when they don't. Tell about your awesome product or service. I work at Noitom's LA office. We are located North East of downtown LA. We do inertial motion capture. That means I have motion capture suits that capture the human body that can be used all over the place. I can capture in my studio or go to the park or in my living room. We rent the stage for motion capture needs. We have suits and can do on-location captures. We can also do remote motion capture and demos. How will it help change people’s lives?! Depending on how people use mocap, it can be quite life changing. It can be used for films and gaming, gait analysis, dance and performance, ergonomics, rehab, sports fitness, robotics, etc. With technology infiltrating every aspect of human growth and development, motion capture adds an entirely new component to play with in many fields. Is there anything else you’d like to tell the community about this amazing product or service? Motion capture can be a difficult field to learn about. There's a few training resources available now to learn about for performance and some resources online to help with the technical side. It's an explosive field and virtual production is growing rapidly. It's a skill set that will be very valuable to learn and it's here to stay. We have a low cost motion capture solution that allows for access that was typically reserved for large studios and high budgets. I also would like to extend my resources to those in the stunt community. If there is anyone interested in learning about inertial motion capture, is looking for motion capture for their project, or has questions please contact me at Jcroak@noitom.com. If anyone is already in virtual production and would like test files, or to collaborate please let me know.