I'm a title. Click here to edit me.
Stunt Performer Spotlight: Lamar Jeter
Tell about yourself and story, Lamar! I was born August 14, 1989 on the hottest day of summer, 2 lbs 8oz premature and sickly, fighting hard but ready to rock this world! Easily the smoothest birth my mother had being I was the last of six... I came into this world fighting; fighting to survive. I was born with several medical problems due to being premature but the most relevant being asthma. I wasn’t supposed to make it is what I’ve been told. My body was just too small and I was really going to have to fight to live. The energy was low when I arrived being that just a year prior my mother lost a baby boy at birth due to similar medical issues, “Lil' Larry”. Each day that passes I give thanks to god and remember how precious life is and also so very fragile. I’ve spent the majority of my life playing it safe and being careful as a child and young man. I still played basketball and football pop warner just like any kid but I always struggled with asthma when doing any type of physical activities. Playing football in high school contributed a lot to my drive and desire for camaraderie amongst my peers while wrestling gave me that “do it yourself” mentality. While I loved both I wasn’t clear what I should do after high school moving forward to college. I was fortunate enough to do some modeling during and after highschool for a few fashion designers and amateur photographers however I was set on joining the military but had considered playing college sports. Little did I know big things were on the horizon. Being born in a military town; it was always a dream to work for the govt. DOD and luckily I was selected out of a group of over 1,000 candidates to be part the navy’s SEEP program (which is a cooperative and pays for school) the job title was Ordnance Processing tech. Which is fancy for Research and development for explosive and propellants. Basically Rocket science which was amazing for me being a long time fan of "Ironman" my whole life even before the movies it seemed unreal and I remember being in disbelief and amazed that this could be a real opportunity for me. It was such a fascinating opportunity and that was the beginning of my wild and crazy adventure. Learning all the ins and outs about weapons manufacturing and production was a dream come true for me and it was a big bonus that the navy paid for my college and provided military benefits to civil service members which gave my a very comfortable lifestyle and I remember thinking about the amount of years for me to retire and what not but I always knew I had a lot more opportunities coming my way. Fast forward a few years and my life flipped over a few times and I ended up in Las Vegas Nellis AFB where my son was born only to move to Chicago a few years later just to be with my son as well as be a major part of his life. While working in Vegas I had the opportunity to be in a car dealership commercial which was comical to say the least and I am sure it will resurface some day. And I got my first taste of “Set life” working for The hit TV show “American Restoration” being a tour guide on the showroom floor made me feel like one of the stars for sure. Although I was for from it at the time. I ended up leaving that job to move out to Chicago to be with my son and most people winced at the thought of me moving to Chicago I had a positive outlook and was prepared to take any job available quoting “I’ll clean the toilets if need be!" Little did I know that was totally unnecessary. I started boxing straight after highschool and remember when I was 9 years old I told my whole family I wanted to be a pro boxer without and substance or reason but I held firm in my beliefs. So after football and wrestling I was fortunate enough to find a small boxing class with a handful of guys to train just to pass the time and stay in shape. I never had any intentions of competing at that time. So needless to say when I moved to Chicago I need to brush up on my skills as well as be healthy and fit. I trained for years just for fun while helping amateur and pro fighters prep for fights I never minded getting my ass battered and bloodied for the greater good but still I knew there was more in it for me. After a year or so my team insists that I compete and of course me being humble didn’t think I was good enough to compete but they reassured me that I was “ready to rock some heads!” I went on to dominate my first fight with some devastating Knees to the body and that was the official start to my fight career. It felt amazing being able to express myself violently and I truly respect the sport and everyone who competes. After training with some big name fighters I was convinced this must be my calling but the universe had other plans clearly. Walking though Walmart randomly shopping for toys with my son I get a PM from Facebook Messenger. “Lamar! I’m Enrique I used to train with Herc Jack when we both first started in MMA. I work in film now wondering what’s your height and weight for a possible job?" I honestly wasn’t sure what this was even about and was thinking “scam likey” but to my surprise everything was legit and within the next 48 hours I was on set meeting with the stunt coordinator Marty Murray. I gotta say out of all this as overwhelming as it was I was super impressed to see that almost everyone on set knew of me in some way which seemed absolutely impossible. My first stunt was alongside Demi Moore who saves me from being drowned in a bathtub. Low and behold I was officially the stunt double for The “Terrance Howard” who was a co-star in my favorite movie “Ironman.” I didn’t think it would last very long assuming they were prepared to “kill him off” and that was my sole purpose but I was very very misinformed. I went on to double him for several seasons to include to finale which is such a big deal for any stunt player. I have grown to love every aspect of the film industry and have been fortunate enough to work on other hit shows like “CPD” and “Power!" So now I stand tall and proud prepared to save the world or destroy it. (Depending on the job) I made it to a billion seconds old! “Let’s go!” What inspired you to become a stunt person? The desire to play while working and do dangerous things safely. Driving, flying, SCUBA diving, fighting, fire, shooting guns, and blowing up bombs, etc. What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it? Kickboxing as well as the desire to validate, imitate, and improve the scene or stunt. Keeping high energy and executing safe and realistic stunt performances. Being able to copy an actor's demeanor is something I throughly enjoy above all else. I used to make fun out of pretending to be my opponent before fights or watching fight film to help a fighter train for a different style of fighting. It definitely comes full circle: stunts and fighting. Tell your all-time personal favorite stunt story! Going to a fitting for a Speedo and signing a nudity waiver for my first stunt (no pressure). Fighting with Demi Moore and swinging an axe at her had to have been one of my favorite experiences. What is the best part about being a stunt performer? Being able to play various characters and being violent and aggressive, it’s definitely one of the greatest perks of the job! What advice would you give other stunt people? Have fun and above all else be safe! Anything else you would like to tell the community about? “Most people only die once!" ~Nonchalantly Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready and try everything! Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/lamar.jeter.1
Stunt Performer Spotlight: Greg Schwartz
Tell about yourself and story, Greg!
My name is Greg Schwartz, I'm 34 years old, and I live in Meriden, CT. I've been athletic my whole life -- I played baseball into college (though got cut in my 3rd semester), football in high school, club ice hockey in college, tried to play golf professionally after graduating (boy was that a disaster), then took up boxing and MMA and was undefeated in my amateur boxing bouts until I hung 'em up to take care of my mother when she contracted pneumonia in the winter of 2011-2012. After that, I went back to school and picked up rock climbing, and I began training for American Ninja Warrior around the same time. I first competed in May of 2013, and have been competing/helping out on the show since. I've also had the honor of competing on SASUKE Vietnam (their version of ANW) three times. Additionally, I'm an avid cyclist and archer -- I was preparing to shoot in the indoor Olympic-style Recurve national championships prior to Covid. Cycling is a hobby, but in late 2018 I rode 625 miles in a week alone and unsupported to raise money and awareness for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. That might've been a bit ambitious, but I survived it haha. After returning from that, the stunt life started to creep into my mind again (as it had been prone to doing for a few years up to that point). I started my stunt journey in May of 2019 and don't regret it for a moment. What inspired you to become a stunt person? It's difficult to pinpoint a single thing. I'm not an adrenaline junky at all -- rather, I love seeing what the human body is capable of. I love learning my limits (safely, lol) and surpassing them with training and discipline. That was the appeal that American Ninja Warrior held for me, and it definitely translates to stunts in my opinion. Performing on fire, the physics of wirework, even just doing a hard wreck on the ground captivates me. One of the reasons I love wrecking so much is that to me, there are few better feelings than appearing to have absolutely destroyed myself on the pavement and popping up with a smile because it wasn't painful -- though more than a handful are plenty rough haha. What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it? I'm best at wrecking, for sure. Ground falls, acrobatic falls, impacts, wire-wrecks, I love all of it. I think it comes from loving the feeling of weightlessness for an instant -- to me, it feels like freedom. I have a predisposition to falling & wrecking from American Ninja Warrior and rock climbing, for sure -- on ANW, a lot of times we're hurling ourselves through the air, and even if we don't "fall," there have been more than a handful of moments where I've needed to just throw my body at a landing platform with as much force as I can muster. I generally feel that sticking the landing in those situations isn't a great idea, so I got really good at dispersing my energy on impact. Same for climbing; I specialize in bouldering (though I've done plenty of sport climbing in my time), where every fall is a ground fall. When you're committing to a hard move 12-15 feet off the mats and you miss, bad things can happen, so I organically learned how to protect myself during awkward falls -- which makes controlled falls a *lot* easier to do safely as well. Within the world of stunts, my vocabulary isn't nearly complete (still working on my scorpions!), but the things I'm capable of, I make sure I do exceptionally well. What is the best part about being a stunt performer? I mean, to me, it's just the coolest job in the world. I've always felt that stunt performers are enablers -- they enable productions to better tell the stories they want with broader options at a fraction of what VFX would cost. They play no small part in transforming actors into superheroes. I look back at Keaton, Canutt, Chaplin, the Marx Brothers...I can see this visceral cinematic evolution in visual storytelling that took place over the last century...and it's largely because of THEM. To get to be a part of that (and get paid for it, to boot!), how is that not the coolest job in the world? What advice would you give other stunt people? I am in *no place* to give anyone advice haha. Maybe work really hard, be humble, contribute energy... something like, "find a way to be the best version of yourself when you're in the industry"? I got into trouble with bringing some of my personal issues into training early on (and I like to think I've learned from that), so that's definitely something to avoid haha. StuntListing: https://www.stuntlisting.com/index.php#ajax/profile.php?id=2940
Stunt Performer Spotlight: Eric Fuchs
Tell about yourself and story! Well, I’ve been a Martial Artist since 5 years old, and my path into stunts started around 13. By then I knew for sure I wanted to do something with Martial Arts. I wanted to make a living doing what I loved the most, but didn’t know how. My path pretty much formed it’s self when I stumbled across a movie called “Jet Li Unleashed” and was hooked from the very opening scene. I wasn’t sure how it was going to happen, but I knew I was going to do exactly that one day. I was so mesmerized that I decided to do some research about the history of Martial Arts, and films. Still with no knowledge of how to get there, I ended up creating a few choreographed performances for school shows and barmitzvas. But at some point I gravitated towards thinking maybe being a pro fighter would help me get there. I competed for a solid ten years in karate, kickboxing, and jujitsu. I taught in my school almost seven days a week, and when I wasn’t doing that I traveled the country with my team to train and compete. But a big part of me knew I didn’t actually enjoy hurting people, I loved performing! As fate would have it, I ended up attracting a few friends that were interested in film making in high school. Then some more in college, until eventually we had a few years of experimenting with content under our belts and started to get noticed online. This is when my career really started to snow ball as I built relationships through working with as many people as possible. I went on backstage.com and got a small indie gig on a Star Wars film back in 2017. Then I met someone there who invited me to a slightly bigger project that ended up premiering in a film festival. And finally the film festival lead to me meeting my first stunt team who would recruit me back in two thousand and eighteen, and the rest is history. We started a series on YouTube called “Power Rangers Unworthy” which grew to be one of the biggest fan series on YouTube, still to this day. I continued to work with more and more experienced performers above my level, continued grinding to get sag credits on indie sag sets and background roles until I was able to join the union in twenty nineteen. Then eventually I branched off into my own stunt team/production group, now called “Unworthyproductions”. Now we train in a program I run out of my martial arts school called “Film Fighting Association”, creating content for YouTube and working on varying levels of film projects as a team. Our ultimate goal is to become our own production company one day. What inspired you to become a stunt person? One hundred percent, the movie “Jet Li Unleashed” started my fascination. From there I continued to be inspired by films by Scott Adkins, and Donnie Yen. As well as other stunt men and women in the community who I’ve been lucky to meet and train with. They’ve become my constant sources of inspiration and motivation. What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it? Fighting and falling would probably be my speciality over all. I’ve spent the most time mastering my movements in several styles of martial arts. And although I still have plenty I can improve on, I’ve grown a skill and passion for creating fight choreography over the years. What is the best part about being a stunt performer? For me it’s getting to create in cool places with great people. Whether that means bringing the directors vision to life on a job, or starting from scratch creating my own story with my team. Performing and creating, with people I enjoy. What advice would you give other stunt people? My advice as a young performer if I could give any to the current community, or even the next generation would be, to do what you love because you love it. Don’t let anything else get in the way. Anything else you would like to tell the community about? Just that I believe it’s amazing how we’re beginning to connect on new levels in this community. I believe if you look back just ten or twenty years ago, this community was very small and out of reach for so many people who would be great for the industry. Now we’re communicating on a bigger scale, and allowing opportunities for all those individuals who were born to do this. Follow Eric On Instagram! @epicericfuchs
Stunt Performer Spotlight: Gary Choi
Tell about yourself and story!
My name is Gary Choi, U got involved in stunts when I was a kid from my Sifu (Martial Arts Instructor). I was training in Chinese Kung Fu and one thing led to another and next thing I know I was on a set at 10 years old. I primarily do HK style stunts, which go quicker and closer. It requires a different skill set. Currently I am in ABQ, NM and running a stunt team, where I can do my best and show them how to be safe on set. I teach them HK style and promote teamwork. What inspired you to become a stunt person? I wouldn't say inspired… I was sort of dragged into it and now… my biggest motivation is to keep people safe. What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it? I would say to learn and to react. In HK you have to sell the hit and reaction and because it's a lot more pressure to succeed, you have to learn much faster. What is the best part about being a stunt performer? The comradery… the looking at each other and knowing you did something amazing and you are part of a great community What advice would you give other stunt people? Take your time, breathe and its ok to say no Anything else you would like to tell the community about? Its not worth it sometimes, theres always another gig and your safety and self respect is not worth cutting things short. Check Out Rising Star Stunt Team! https://www.facebook.com/RisingStarStuntTeam
Stunt Performer Spotlight: Jody Cieutat
What inspired you to become a stunt person? Truthfully I wasn’t even looking. My first film was in 2015 as an extra. My mother was watching news and they had a casting call for elves. Me being 3’11 and feeling like 6’4, I wasn’t interested. Eventually me and my wife talked, I gave in and here I go. The first film 16 hours later I was like holy cow never again. Fast forward, I met a really great guy on that first film and he called me up a year later. So off I went to work on Garry Marshall’s last film. While we was in a hold, I sat next to Michael Endoso, he asked “Ever thought of stunts?” I was 33 and thinking am I too old? That comment stuck with me for weeks after the film ended, till I finally said “I’m not old, just short.” Use that as your advantage. So that’s how it all started. What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it? Just starting in the business I would say my attitude. I never grew up in sports. So lacked all that skills. Now at 39 I’m slowly learning them and getting the fittest I’ve ever been. Being attentive, learning. Most of all keeping that “I am not 3’11, you can do anything mindset.” Tell your all-time personal favorite stunt story! So far it would have to be with Brad Martin. We was working on Greenland that he was the coordinator on. I was on my first day on a stunt contract. I was chilling out and he walks by says “Wanna go with me?” I was like sure, we hop in the dually and I learned very quick, speed wasn’t something just running in my veins. What is the best part about being a stunt performer? Money, right? Actually when I did my second film I saw the stunt guys come in like super heroes, I heard the “Those are the stunts guys." It intrigued me as too everyone had respect and knew them. After I worked a few more films it was like, “I am noticed because of my size, I wanna be noticed as more.” What advice would you give other stunt people? Get out of your own head someone is always better (just do you). Learn the business, NETWORK! Anything else you would like to tell the community about? Be prepared for anything. Attitude is everything and opens so many doors. Check Out Jody's Links! Stunt Reel: https://youtu.be/qWJmXD1OWGs Instagram: @jodycieutat
Stunt Performer Spotlight: Stephen Koepfer
Tell about yourself and story! I am a lifelong New Yorker and martial artist with black belts in Tae Kwon Do, Judo and a Master of Sport of Russia in Combat Sambo. I competed a fair amount of combat sports in my younger days with some success and officially began coaching in 2003 when I started my own gym, New York Combat Sambo. Aside from my own team, which has had a wide range of success in Sambo, MMA, Jiu Jitsu and other combat sports, I have also coached Sambo and Combat Wrestling national & world teams, with multiple individual and team championships. I have been truly fortunate to have been able to train, teach or coach around the world in such places as Russia, Ukraine, Japan, Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia, and many others. I am also an Association of Boxing Commissions approved MMA referee and judge with many years involved in MMA coaching, officiating and safety & regulatory development. I am very proud to have been able to give back to my community and have counted among my students many military and law enforcement professionals including UN and DOS Diplomatic Security Officers, NYPD, FBI, DEA and NY State Court Officers. I have been a guest combatives instructor at West Point Military Academy and Ft. Campbell. 5 years ago I became a SAG-AFTRA stunt performer. Since childhood I dreamed of working in the film and television industry; and even attended film-making camp during several summers of my youth. This is where I first started learning how to shoot a film from script to screen. As I got older I continued to experiment with film-making. I started with an old super-8 camera of my dad’s, then with video tape, and later with modern digital technology. Funny thing is I always wanted to be behind the camera and was most interested in SFX. I knew this thing called a “stuntman” existed, but I never made the connection or even considered it when I was young. After high school I attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City on a full scholarship and earned my BFA. I later earned my Master's degree in Art Therapy from Hofstra University and worked in pediatric oncology for almost a decade before making the leap to run my martial arts gym full time. What inspired you to become a stunt person? Honestly, I have martial arts and YouTube to thank. I started my YouTube channel in 2006 when it was a brand-new thing, putting up martial arts instructional videos. That got me back into thinking about shooting and creating content. I produced a few DVDs and continued to put up content on YouTube. The channel became popular and put me on the radar of a few people who reached out for my services as a martial arts technical adviser for television including HUMAN WEAPON in History Channel in 2007 (my first real TV gig) and DHANI TACKLES THE GLOBE on Travel Channel in 2009 (where I also appeared as myself). After that I started thinking about the industry more seriously and produced several short films and documentaries. I also continued to get gigs appearing on myself or in different production roles for combat sports television like Spike TV and Bellator MMA. One of my first interactions with the stunt community was in 2014 when Chad Stahelski and the 87 Eleven team came by my gym while casting the first JOHN WICK film – they found me on YouTube! I am grateful to have worked with them a bit on the subsequent installments since then. Later that same year I produced a short film (a proof of concept for a television series) which received some publicity and got me in the room with a noted director who was considering it as a potential show to pick up. The show went nowhere, but as a result of those meetings I did meet a veteran stunt coordinator here in NY named Doug Crosby. He liked the fight scene I had choreographed for the short and suggested I consider stunts, that I might have a future in that industry. That is when a bell went of in my head, and since then I have been all in regarding becoming a stunt performer. One of my best friends, students and partners at my gym, Paul Varacchi, had similar goals and off we went on this journey together. Honestly, I have not looked back or regretted the decision once. I feel like everything I have done in my life, no matter how winding the road may have seemed, had led to that moment. What is your greatest skill as a stunt performer, is there a story behind it? I got in as a fight guy for obvious reasons. But, as you well know, after you get in is really when the serious work begins. You must prove yourself, earn trust, watch, train your butt off, network, and keep learning. Wash, rinse and repeat. It was several years before a coordinator trusted me to be more deeply involved in any kind of fight development - other than hitting the ground LOL. Doc Duhame took a chance on me by casting me as Eddie Marsan’s double in season 6 of RAY DONOVAN, a role which involved primarily fighting. I am grateful to Doc as that show was where I really started to cut my teeth in the business and really learn the process of fight creation (for television at least). He also involved me in planning other gags I was not involved in, and just generally showing me the ropes. I learned a ton from him and all the stunt team that worked that season. It was a pivotal moment for me in the profession. Having said that, I aspire to be much more than a fight guy who can hit the ground well for coordinators. I have dedicated myself to becoming a good all-around performer. I want to be much more than a specialist and continue to actively train driving, tactical, fire, acting, rigging, and importantly shooting and editing action. I am not an expert in any of those yet, but I am a closer to being the dependable utility performer I want to be. My prior experience in production, with filmmaking, and organizational skill has definitely been an asset as well. But, to bring it back to your original question, I feel my strongest skill is my work ethic and desire to grow & improve my game. That is absolutely what one will get if they hire me – a guy with no ego who embraces the grind. What is the best part about being a stunt performer? Without a doubt it is the collaboration and community. There is nothing better than the feeling at the end of a great day when everyone on set – not just the stunt department – feels like they created something special together. That does not always happen, but when it does you just cannot beat that feeling. Along these lines, I just love learning. Even on the “easiest” days on set, I get so engrossed with what is going on around me. I love being part of this larger organism. It is literally a living thing and a privilege to be a part of. Tell your All-Time Favorite Stunt Story! It is hard to single out one favorite stunt story. I have genuinely enjoyed this entire ride so far! Having said that, one of the things I love most is seeing the folks I started in this industry with progress and move up the ranks. I love seeing people’s success. It is so gratifying to watch. To know how much people want success, to see and be a part of how hard they work at it, and then see them achieve it? It is just awesome. There is nothing better than seeing your friends enjoy the fruits of all their hard work and dedication. This is truly a team effort. Their success is mine, and mine is theirs. What advice would you give other stunt people? I guess the most important advice I could give, especially to those newer to the industry (but really for everyone), is to never stop training and always embrace learning. We never know everything, and the industry is always evolving. Never hesitate to ask a question and always be honest about your skill level. Think of yourself like a special ops operator who must be ready for when that call comes. It is your job to be ready, and if you are not ready, do not take the job. When not working, you should be training. Part of our training, in my opinion, must include learning the history of our profession. I think knowing where we came from and on whose shoulders we stand is critical. Not just to honor those who came before us (which is important obviously), but also so we can evolve, learn past techniques that may have been forgotten, see where current techniques came from, or avoid making mistakes of the past. There is a lot of information out there – books to read, movies to watch and veterans to talk to. Every performer should feel it is incumbent on them to spend time in the history books, not just in the training hall. One of the biggest surprises I encountered after getting in the union was the sheer volume of in-person and self-tape auditions I would need to do. I got myself an acting coach as a result and it was well worth it. That is absolutely a required skill to develop. Lastly, I think it is important to not become too embedded and obsessive about our respective factions. Healthy competition is great. It can inspire creativity and the pushing of imaginative boundaries. But, I think we have all witnessed when this can become toxic for our community. I think forming clans is a natural aspect of human interaction. After all, we all need our crew to depend on, train with, sweat with and feel safe with. But, in excess or fueled by ego, it can do more harm than good for our community. I have experienced some of the most wonderful, supportive and loving people in this stunt family of ours. But, like all families, ours has some disfunction to be mindful of. Anything else you would like to tell the community about? Paul Varacchi and I started a stunt training group called Breakfall Studios that operates out of my gym. We host regular workshops, and are available for rent as a location, for rehearsals, training, previz shoots, auditions, etc. Of course, anyone interested in martial arts can certainly consider training at my gym as well. Links! On Instagram, Twitter and YouTube: @sambosteve Our stunt training group, Breakfall Studios, on Instagram: @BreakfallStunts IMDB: www.imdb.me/stephenkoepfer NY Combat Sambo: www.ussambo.com Breakfall Studios: www.breakfallstudios.com Vimeo Channel (with reels, etc.): www.vimeo.com/stephenkoepfer
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