Stunt performers, also known as stuntmen or daredevils, commonly work in the TV and film industry where they replace film actors in acting dangerous or risky scenes. These performers often focus on achieving great visual impact with minimum safety risks. If you have well-developed physical and sporting skills, and willing to work in dangerous situations, you will certainly enjoy this job.
What do stunt performers do?
Although the specific tasks of stunt performers could vary according to the type of stunt being performed, they generally have the following duties;
- Jumping from high rise buildings
- Riding motorbikes and driving vehicles at fast speeds
- Setting themselves on fire or entering flaming buildings
- Performing falling or flying stunts using ropes or parachutes
- Diving, swimming underwater and skiing
Stunt performers could work in a variety of filming environments, from television studios to on-location sets. They are often exposed to a range of climatic conditions, including extreme heat and freezing cold. This means that while at work, stunt performers may be required to wear protective gear and costumes, such as helmets and swimsuits.
Stunt performers have irregular working hours, often depending on filming schedules.
The average annual salaries for stunt performers are as tabulated;
Average Annual Wage
Newly qualified performers
Very experienced performers
Entering the profession
The only way to become a recognised stunt performer is by being a member of the Joint Industry Stunt Committee. This proves to potential employers that you possess what it takes to execute various stunts safely and professionally.
The JISC has three membership categories;
As an aspiring stunt performer, you will join the JISC’s probationary category and rise through the levels as you gain more skills and experience. You must be at least 18 years to qualify for this category.
At the probationary stage, you would work under a qualified stunt coordinator, who will assess your competencies. Because you will need to prove that you have completed at least two months of non-stunt work in front of a camera, you can participate in community filming projects.
You will also need to demonstrate your qualifications and skills in at least six sports across the following sporting fields;
- Agility and strength – gymnastics or rock climbing
- Fighting – martial arts or boxing
- Water – sub-aqua or swimming
- Riding and driving – riding motorcycles, horse riding or driving cars
- Falling—high diving or trampolining
- You must offer sports from any four sporting fields
- You can’t offer more than two from the same field
- Although one of your sports has to be a fighting skill, you can only offer one martial art.
You can join a local sporting association that has training sessions geared toward helping members secure the JISC’s registration.
Important skills, abilities and qualities
Want to know the skills you should nurture to become a successful stunt performer? In a nutshell these are:
- Highly developed physical skills and a commitment to staying fit
- Interest in sporting activities
- Ability to follow instructions accordingly
- Excellent teamwork skills
- Good acting skills
- Awareness of health and safety issues
After joining the JISC’s probationary category, you will need to work your way through the intermediate and full categories.
You will spend at least three years of probationary, after which you would have achieved the standards required to move to intermediate. This involves completing a health and safety qualification.
Intermediate stunt performers can perform solo stunts without being supervised.
After spending a further two years as an intermediate stunt performer, you can achieve full status after reaching the required standards.
It’s rare to find full-time stunt performers. As such, you will be in self-employment, working in short-term TV and film production projects. What’s more, the National Careers Service forecasts that the UK’s sports and culture sector will create about 50,000 jobs between 2014 and 2020, meaning there will be plenty of gigs for stunt performers.
To enhance your chances of securing more contracts, you should put your energy on building a network of industry contacts and maintaining a high-level of physical fitness
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