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Stunt Work
Don't make the call
| Saturday, 08.05.2017, 10:00 AM |   (34992 views)

Grady Bishop

Don't Take The Call If You Can't Make The Fall- When Auditioning/Casting


Helpful Safety Food For Thought When Casting


Agents Sending Talent Out For Castings


As discussed in the Screen Actors Guild, in a 1982 study, found that the major causes of injuries and illnesses in films were falls, smoke and chemical inhalation, auto accidents, fight scenes, equipment failure, horses, and motorcycles.  Most of these examples are stunt-related, where a stunt can be defined as any action sequence that involves a greater than normal risk of injury to stunt performers, actors or others on the set.


This can include falls, fight scenes, car chases, helicopter sequences, horse riding, diving, etc.  In many situations, actors are doubled by stunt performers who have extensive experience and training in carrying out hazardous action sequences.  Often, however, these scenes are performed by, or involve actors who do not have appropriate or sufficient training in stunts. 


If an accident occurs on set picture yourself in front of a Judge or front of the actor or actor's family" 


This is a lot of info. You won't need to retain all of it. We just want to fill you in on how much small action can grow.


Who Should Assist In Casting Calls Where Stunts or Actor Action is scripted and/or story boarded.

The Stunt Coordinator is the manager of the stunt unit.  It is he/she who translates the director’s vision into action in front of the camera.  The Stunt Coordinator works with the Director and where applicable the 2nd Unit Director, Key Rigging Grip, and Special Effects Coordinator’s in pre-production to design and plan action sequences such as chases, fights, and burns. Together, they decide how these illusions will be accomplished as well as where and to what extent stunts will be required.


Based on this, the coordinator prepares a breakdown of the script and/or story boards detailing the stunts and their estimated cost.  The coordinator is usually someone who performs stunts him/herself, and thus is uniquely qualified to judge through personal knowledge, resumes or references, whoever is best at doing particular types of stunts.  The Coordinator will determine the number of stunt performers needed and estimate their stunt fees, called “adjustments”.


During the actual shooting, the Stunt Coordinator is responsible for assisting the Director in choreographing the action sequences and supervising the performance of the stunt.  The coordinator must ensure that the stunts are performed safely while still obtaining the maximum visual impact.  As part of this process, the coordinator will arrange and supervise the rigging of the stunt equipment, stunt vehicles, airbags, and other equipment, determine what safety precautions (paramedic, standby ambulance, etc.) are necessary and communicate them to the production company.  The coordinator may offer suggestions regarding coverage, camera placement and frame rate.


The Stunt Coordinator is also responsible for the safety of all of the performers involved in a scene. It is important to realize that actors may request a stunt double at any time when they feel a scene is too dangerous to perform.  If non-stunt performers appear in an action scene, the Stunt coordinator will determine to what extent they may be involved in the action (if at all) and, if doubles are needed to take the place of the actor in danger.


The Stunt Coordinator also shares in the task of ensuring the general safety of the camera personnel and other crew members during the performance of a stunt by anticipating hazards and providing escape routes. He does this with the assistance of the 1st Assistant Director, Production Medic, Fire & Police Officials and, where applicable, the Key Grip.


The Stunt Coordinator may also perform some of the stunts for the project, and sometimes acts as the Second Unit Director, particularly if the film requires a lot of action.

Risk Factors & Considerations for Stunt Work and Actor Action.

Special Note:  For those Producers, Unit Production Managers and especially Casting Directors that are reading this: Please understand that the knowledge of these risk factors and the ability to apply them takes years to attain.  Your best bet is to always hire qualified, experienced stunt personnel.  The risk factors contained here are only the tip of the iceberg.  The number of things that a stunt person has to be aware of when performing any stunt is staggering.  It is impossible to cover them all. However this is a good start.

Type of catcher, if any

Who is my safety team?
A: How much experience do they have?
B: How much experience with this particular stunt do I have?

Are there non-stunt people involved?
A: Have they been made aware of the risk?
B: Do they have any stunt experience?
C: Do they know their marks?
D: Do they know the marks being hit by the stunt players?

Are there animals involved?
A: Have they been properly trained?
B: Are there potential dangers?
C: Is there a qualified animal trainer on the set?
D: Has the action been approved by the Humane Society?

How many stunt people are involved?
A: What are their levels of experience?
B: What are their areas of expertise?

Will there be any explosives or Pyrotechnic's?
A: How powerful and where will charges be?
B: What types of explosives are being used?
C: Are the effects personnel licensed and trained, experienced in that type of explosive?
D: What type of detonator is being used?
E: Who or what is pushing the button?

Have the surfaces been checked for loose debris, oil, etc.?

Have I checked my equipment thoroughly?

Have all necessary repairs been made?

Where will I be in the water?
A: Is it clean?
B: How deep is it?
C: How clear is it?
D: Are there any currents?
E: Are the water safety people SCUBA trained in case of emergency?
F: Will I have readily available air?
G: Will I be inside of something; is there an escape route if I become trapped?

Is there any fire involved?
A: Am I on fire?
B: Is the set/location potentially flammable?
C: Is the flame controlled?
D: Are there enough fire extinguishers?
E: What type of protection will I be wearing?
F: Will you have and air source?
G: What type of fuel will be used for initial burn?
H: Do the safety people know how to use the extinguishers?
I: Have escape routes been mapped out for cast & crew?

Are there any obstacles that could interfere with the performance of the stunt?
A: Can they be moved? If not what can be done to make obstacle less dangerous?
Are you being rushed or under pressure?
How many times will you be required to perform the stunt?
Have I had adequate prep and rehearsal time?
Have the proper emergency medical arrangements been made?
Have the proper permits been acquired?
Are the proper insurance papers filled out and ready to go in case of an accident?

Are there vehicles involved?
A: Are there any special operating procedures?
B: Am I familiar with the vehicle?
C: How many vehicles are there and, are they in good condition?

Grady Bishop is a 2nd Unit Director / Stunt Coordinator and member of DGA / SAG / AFTRA / Teamsters 399 Hollywood. He is the President and Owner of Extreme Stunt & Driving Team, Inc.
 He can be reached at

Grady Bishop

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