Greetings readers of The Action Elite, Danny Templegod here to continue the discussion of the Stand Up For Stunts Movement, that eventually, and hopefully, will lead to the Academy Awards including a category for either Stunt Ensemble or Stunt Coordinator. Intrinsically, it is a logical progression to include stunts into the awards, but in order to do so, perhaps a few things need to change. It all starts with the actors that the stunt people double. In my mind it is very important, especially in a high profile movie such as Captain America: Civil War, and X-Men: Apocalypse. Those films, along with the recent ‘Suicide Squad’ are examples of properties that dozens of stunt performers work many months, either training the actors, and or doing and setting up the stunts. The actors, some more involved then others have to learn what to do from them.
When the movie comes out, the actors go out on press tours to promote the movie, or show and talk about either why they did it, or the plot etc… In action movies, questions always seem to lead the actors right to their training for the project. Rather than talking about their stunt doubles who helped them, it is all about me, me, me. Of course, there are awesome exceptions, like Ming-Na Wen, Elodie Yung, who not only mention their doubles in the interviews, but share a story about them, and what they had to go through to train with them. Obviously there are blatant examples of complete disregard for the stunt double, as in the case of Julia Rekaikyna and Olivia Munn claiming she sent her stunt double home, good lord what a jerk. Well Olivia, here is Julia’s stunt reel,https://vimeo.com/155427197 and obviously, although new in the business she has training, and obviously, she wanted to work hard for you to make you look good, and seeing as her name is in the credits of the film as your stunt double, perhaps a small thank you is in order. Actors play a vital role in the ultimate success of the stunt community, a few kind words, and a name drop on a national outlet goes a LONG way.
The second important aspect is the press, we have a responsibility to not only mention the names of the stunt people, but to do interviews with them when the movies they work on come out. Of course there are those who want to remain in the shadows, but the issue arises, the more remaining in the shadows the worse for the community as a whole. Stunt people have perhaps the most interesting stories to tell about action films, they have to not only train the actors, but most often have to rehearse for many hours and days before the actors even arrive on set.
Recently, I had the opportunity to conduct a few interviews, three of which I would like to share, with you in case you missed them. Heidi Moneymaker, Monique Ganderton, and Lauren Mary Kim. The three of them have worked over a decade in the business, and not only share stories behind the sets, they have intrinsic knowledge, on how to craft action, fitting of the actresses they double.
The final and perhaps the most important aspect lies with the stunt performers themselves, do not settle for lying in the background, push yourself to be the best, even if you want to remain out of the spotlight, quietly work to support the actors who support you. If you see an actor is not being respectful to the stunt community do not accept that! I said it, refuse to work for them! As a writer I have refused work, for magazines in the past I did not agree with. That said, if an actor, or actress, like Ming-Na Wen goes out of their way to support the stunt community make sure THEY are the ones getting the action work they desire. I recently watched Suicide Squad, why did I watch it? HAHA, I watched it to support the stunt people in it! Yep, some films I go to see in the theater based on the stunt people crafting the action, good lord, I went there! So stand up and shout for the stunt performers like Ming Qiu, Tara Macken, Monique Ganderton, Sam Hargrave, and the entire team at Suicide Squad, you kicked ass, and it was well worth going!
Whew, OK kids time to go, I am done pissing you all off. Keep action alive, but reading The Action Elite, and if you ever should happen to see a stunt person in your travels, say hi, shake their hand, after asking of course, and say thanks for making my action movies great, you never know, you may get a cool story from them about a recent film!