Coordinator's Corner: Ross Clay
What has been the biggest highlight of your career?
My biggest highlight of my career, was stepping in the position of Stunt Coordinator. Sure I have had various professional experiences coming to be a stuntman. Then as a Stuntman I did all kinds of gags on shows. Ranging from little shows to medium to and finally to some large pictures. But the immense responsibility to plan, prepare, coordinate and direct the gags has been outstanding. Above all to hire and surround yourself with really great talented stunt performers is always a tremendous pleasure. What is the greatest lesson you have learned over the years as a stunt coordinator?
Our industry is based on a collaborated effort. The most import part and key in this effort is “Integrity!” If you arrive on set, and immediately start speaking in “first person” “I can do this, I can do that and I am just so great!” As Sam Peckinpah said, “Then here’s your ticket for the bus home!" The new or seasoned stunt performer has to understand, it is has taken allot of time, effort and money to arrive in creating a project. What stands out most and you will be recognized for is, your “Integrity!” Being authentic, being passionate about your job and your integrity will be valuable asset to you. I share this on because trust on a project is everything. It takes lifetime to earn that trust and that trust can be lost in a second! But if you have Integrity, you will be trusted as a co-collaborator on a project. The project is a gift. It is my obligation to share my integrity and I am humble and grateful on every project I collaborate on. With integrity, it is not about you, or me, it is about the “we.” We are all on this project and we give the project the integrity it deserves.” What are the greatest qualities you seek out in a stunt performer?
The greatest qualities are really not many. Firstly is the person right for the job? Do they bring a particular skill set that is above and beyond and not just average? Are they an adult? That being said, are they responsible, and take their work very seriously? Does that Stunt performer have passion and drive? A really good Stunt Player will take their prep seriously. They will be briefed about the money and contract because this is a business. They will understand the risks of the job, what preparations are needed, and if there is rehearsals and possibly of a “pre-vis” will be done. One thing I look for is kindness, politeness, and passion and as I said above is integrity. If as added plus you are humble, that will be all the better. The project is counting on you to make everyone look excellent. Because good is not good enough. It has to be excellent. What advice would you give up and coming stunt performers?
The advice I would give to a up and coming stunt performer is this. Train and keep training. Train on what you know so it is like second nature. But, train on the new skills that you could be asked to do. Learn that new skill like it is second nature as well! Also have a mindset for change and keep learning and adapting to change. Our industry is forever changing and reinventing itself. Also your career will change and be ready for it! Be a vacuum and learn as much as you can about our industry. Because that could be a start of a whole new career for you! Something else I would strongly advise is, stay well and stay healthy. If and when you get hurt you will recover sooner if you are in a wellness state of mind and body. In addition you will make sounder decisions that insure your safety and the safety on the set. I have seen all to often the hung over, or stoned “stunt-pup” on set. I have even seen that odd director that is a hung-over wreck. Don’t be that dismal failure for the day! For you will be given that bus ticket home! (If you’re lucky.) Listen, we all do this to have a life worth living! So practice and train and live that life that makes it all worth it for you!” What do you love most about the stunt community?
What I love most about our Stunt Community is the very rare individuals that have made the personal experience of the work all worthwhile. It became a joy and not just a job. I have had the pleasure and honor in knowing those rare folk for a long time. Admiring their own upward progression in their careers! Listen, we all work in a business that is a lottery. There will be the good, the bad and horrible of times and work experiences. But those rare alliance you have and will make, it all worthwhile. And yeah, those pay checks help to! What also makes our community remarkable is the rare solidarity between us all. We can’t do this alone in this business. It takes trust and cohesiveness. “A Stunt Coordinator is only as good as his / her horses.” And Stunt Player’s performance is only good as the Coordinators mentorship and finally the shot!” We really do need each other! For without each other support and trust, action sequences would look like “unimportant suave” on the screen (We have all seen that stuff!) The integrity of the community as whole is what is at stake here. We have duty to production and to our audience at large. Because of all of this, is our passionate conviction to excellence and that is what I love about our Stunt Community!” In closing I wish to humbly thank you Hunter Crowder for your work, your time and your conviction that you share with us all. Thank you again and I hope this helps our remarkable community. Very sincerely, Ross Clay.