How To Become A Stunt Double | How To Become A Stuntman
VIDEO TRANSCRIPTION – How to become a stunt double and how to become a stuntman? That’s what we’ll answer in today’s video.
Hi my name’s Dillon Wilson with CBT Stunt Alliance. Train Hard. Perform Easy. We help actors, stunt performers, filmmakers and content creators learn professional stunt training to leverage in film, TV and live action entertainment performances.
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So, we get a lot of questions like how to become a stunt double, how to become a stuntman, and even how to become a stunt actor.
So, we’ll share with you the things that we know to help you along the way. So, we’ll start with the first question.
How To Become A Stunt Double Question 1:
What is a stunt double?
A stunt double is a professional stuntman or stunt performer which is the correct term, who performs high-risk action scenes for the actor. Now, because they’re highly trained, they can do variety of different action sequences to keep the actor safe. The reason why is, think about it, if the actor performs their own stunts and they get injured because they don’t train or practice, or if they do train and they’re really good at it, if they get injured the whole production shuts down. This was something that happen with Tom Cruise on that Mission: Impossible movie that he got injured. I think production shut down for an entire year. And it threw everyone into chaos because you have people who are committed foe a certain amount of time for that project. They got that time blocked off and then all the other project, they schedule afterwards.
Well, when he got injured, production ceased. All people who were supposed to get paid and work on that project don’t because the production stopped and it threw up their entire timetable. So, it was really a nightmare for a lot of people involved with the project. Yeah, Tom Cruise likes doing his own stunts and he’s the bankable actor so you know, there’s two sides of that. That’s the reason why. So, if an actor gets injured, production ceases and everyone can lose their jobs. So, that’s why the stunt double is there because if the stunt double gets injured, the production continues. They just bring another stunt double. It’s just the nature of it. And the other thing is with a stunt double, their face isn’t visible in camera. So, usually some clever camera work where you’re only seeing the back of their head or something and maybe a little piece of the side of their face. They may even have a wig on or even some makeup or something. So that, ideally, the audience can’t tell that it’s a stunt double that the illusion of the actor doing the stunts is actually what’s maintained.
I have actually stunt doubled people before. Look nothing like them. They were different ethnicity than me. Yet because I could do some acrobatic move that they wanted for the shot. They dressed me up and we were able to make it work. So, that’s the key thing. That’s what a stunt double does. Stunt double does is they make the actor look amazing without the audience knowing that it’s not the actor actually doing it.
How To Become A Stunt Double Question 2:
What does a stunt double do?
If you’re wondering what a stunt double does, it’s literally the same as a professional stuntman or stunt performer. It’s the same job. You just made up to look like someone else. So, there’s no difference. Depending on the scene they’re in, a stunt doubles can perform throwing punches or in a fight scene receiving punches, getting beaten up in a fight scene, getting pushed into a wall, slammed into a door, falling on the floor. It could be them driving a car at high speed. It could be them doing car stuff. Whether jumping stuff or doing for 180s or reverse 180s. they could be hanging from a building.
Actually, coordinated a project like that. We had someone hanging out of a 2nd story window. It’s all those types of things that could endanger the actor. So, it’s all the cool stuff like the fight stuff and everything. Like memorizing fight choreography and then even rehearsing fight sequences. Yet it’s also kind of like the boring kind of mundane stuff, too. A stunt performer is boring in a body harness hanging out of window. I mean it doesn’t sound very exciting because it isn’t. Right? That’s another one. Sometimes I remember like a buddy of mine, I’m not going to say who the actor he stunt doubled. A famous actor, real famous actor, older and like the scenes for them at their age was they’re pretty much laying on the floor like their wheelchair might fall over or something. And they are laying on the floor. He stunts doubled them and had a nice contact though. Made a lot of money doing it. Yet very boring kind of stuff. So, it’s whatever puts the actor at risk is when they’ll bring the stunt double.
How To Become A Stunt Man Question 3:
How do you get jobs as a stunt double?
Wondering about how to become a stuntman, how to be a stuntman, how to become a stunt actor, and even how do you get gigs as a stunt actor? Alright. So, we’re going to share a few ways on how to actually get jobs. Yet the thing to understand is a stunt double is generally selected by a production’s stunt coordinator, responsible for casting and choreographing the action. And realistically, what you do is try to get booked for stunt work. It’s the same, sort of thing, we’ll touch on this a bit later.
All it takes is for the stunt coordinator to notice some similarity between you and the lead or the actor they need a stunt double for. And that could pretty much be it. Also, you want to build and maintain relationships with those stunt coordinators. Because once they work with you the first time, they know how you are to work with your good to be on, good to have on set. You know with all the safety regulations and they are comfortable with you. They are going to want to fire you time and time again. So, there’s always relationship building is should always be the foundation of any successful marketing plan especially in this business.
Being listed in stunt performer casting sites, and even stunt association rosters work immensely well. Because when time comes for them to cast for someone, it’s helpful when they can just go to a website where stunt performers are. And he’s always pick your head shots are going to be up there as well as the skills that you have. And they can go and look right at your photo. Man or woman, they look at your photos, look at your skills and they just pick you. I’ve done that myself when I needed to cast stunt doubles for various projects and it works immensely well.
And in addition, depending on where you are in the world joining union helps. Anything that you can do to put your name and your face out there. So that it makes easier for people to find you the better. That’s why any associations, unions, things like that because that’s where stunt coordinators even productions are going to turn to when they need a stunt double. They are always going to go to a place that’s reputable and where they have a good amount of options. And so, these types anything like that that you can think of is where they are going to go. Even some Facebook groups. Sometimes some coordinators post in there if they are not able to find they’re looking for. It rarely though. Yet productions definitely do. And so, even being in certain Facebook groups, you can actually find stunt double work as well.
In addition, a good thing to know, we’ll say this is a pro tip for you. Looking like a famous actor helps big time. So, if you notice that people keep saying, ”Oh, you look just like this person. That’s like that person.” You need to get into stunt doubling. And when we get to how much money you can make, you’ll understand why. Yet if you get that then you definitely want to do that. I have a colleague she looks like I don’t have a certain name. Yes, she looks like literally just like Zoe Zaldana. Spinning image. I mean everywhere she goes people stop her and want to get her autograph.
She was even saying one time, she was at the gas station and people walking up to her and stuff. She’s like, “I’m not Zoe Zaldana!” If you get that from any actor, you need to contact an agent right away because you got a career. There are people if you remember joining the President Obama administration who looked kind of like president Obama and made careers. A lucrative career just impersonating him. So, if you have the same thing is the case with this, if you look like any famous actors or anything, you definitely want to contact an agent. Let them know. Year ago, when Cuba Gooding Jr had a career was still going, I was approached by stunt coordinators before to stunt double him. My hair was different. Yet I could have yet. If you do look like someone that’s definitely going to be a big help.
Something else. Another way you get gigs. Some stunt doubles have dwarfism. Meaning that they are little people. And they oftentimes have very good careers because they serve as stunt doubles or stand-ins for children and babies. Again, I have some buddies who, I’m thinking of wight now, works consistently all the Disney movies. All the Nickelodeon stuff. When all those kids, if there’s any sort of dangerous or physical scene, they don’t wish to endanger a child. There are even more rules governing children on a set than adults. So, they bring in the stand-ins or the stunt doubles. So, even if you’re a little person or you know someone that is, they can get plenty of work as an actual stunt double.
A couple other things. Some stunt doubles begin their careers as children. And although kids tend not to do as much dangerous stuff. There is physical stuff like if a kid is already training in martial arts or they do gymnastics or something, then they could stunt double another child who’s in a project that calls for that. Even if they are like again the martial thing. Knowing how to do landings or falls or breakfalls and things. They can bring that child to be a stunt double or stand-in for sequences like falling or even climbing something like that. So, if you have a child who is in martial arts or anything else, does gymnastics or does skateboard stunts and things like that, you can put them as stunt double because they can cash for that for other kids.
And the last thing is sometimes with some stunt doubles is because they’re related to the actor. Like if your brother or your sister is an actor in a project and you look like them, well hey! It’s just natural for them to bring you in. This has happened with many famous actresses and actors is because they have like usually a brother or a siter. Sometimes you could be a cousin that looks a lot like them and then that’s how they wind up getting brought into the stunt double and booking the gig.
How To Become A Stunt Man Question 4:
How much does a stunt double get paid?
Wondering how to become a stuntman, how to be a stuntman, how to become a stunt actor and even what the pay is? Well this is all over the board. And the gain is going to vary depending on where you are in the world. Yet in the US, there’s what’s known as union work and non-union work. And there are pluses and minuses to each one. There’s always a lot more non-union work than union work. At union work, you tend to theoretically have safer working conditions because there’s more vetting going on and minimal pay. Minimal standards so that people can’t pay you under a certain standard. Like a minimum wage essentially. For non-union work, it can be a couple hundred bucks per day up to over thousand dollars per day. A good number of tv shows that you watch tv series are non-union.
So, they may pay the same amount that a union gig would pay. So, anywhere from a couple hundred bucks to over a thousand bucks a day depending on what you are doing. Now for union work, again, it varies as well. I won’t get too much into this. Now they’re called collective bargaining agreements in the US for the SAG screen actors guild. Yet there’s different budgets in here. So, there’s different minimums. For stunt double, it can range from anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to once again $1,100 or more per day. It’s all depends on the collective bargaining agreement. So, if it’s a movie that has a budget of like $20,000 or I mean the standards might be different now. $20,000 or less, then the minimum pay is like maybe 2 something. 250 or something like that. They can pay you more. That’s they can’t pay you less than that.
And so, with each successive budget, moderate low budget, low budget stuff like that, the pay increases. You can easily contact SAG and they can let you know what the scale is and eat on their website, you can do some research. Easier to call them and they can let you know what the pay is for each collective bargaining agreement. Yet the ideal one is theatrical. And usually with the theatrical, the minimum pay for a stunt performer, right now is a little $1,100 per day. So that’s 100 bucks per day even if you’re just sitting on set. Like that one buddy I told about stand that does stand and work for like a really old actor who just lays on the floor like you fall out of his wheelchair. He’s getting like a thousand dollars or more per day for doing that. For months on end, depending how long it takes for actually shoot the scenes.
So, the other thing you know is a lot of ladies do really well with stunt doubling. A lot of my friends that are ladies, majority of them are stunt performers and they always book work. Because there’s so many projects that women are in. And they tend not to be the one who shot out of cannon. They’re usually getting like lifetime. They might slap each other or fall on the ground or crashed and get pushed into a wall. There’s something like that and there’s kind of things are common. And because of that, that means there’s a lot of stunt doubling work for the ladies. I mean watch. Think about your favorite tv shows and movies. Observe what happens to the women in it. They are not like marvel movies where the women have getting kicked out of a window of a 10-story skyscraper. It’s the bread-and-butter kind of stunts which what most professional stunt performers so. So, a lot of ladies get booked for work. So, if you’re thinking about becoming a stunt double and you’re a lady, go in full speed ahead.
How To Become A Stunt Man Question 5:
What stuntman skills do you need to have to be a stunt double?
Well, to be a stunt double, ideally, see our previous video blog post entitled “How to become a stunt performer”. Remember that’s the correct title – stunt performer. And we break it down step by step in intimate detail. Here’s what you need to do from a to z, suit to nuts to actually become a stunt performer. A very popular vlog those people share it a lot. Very informative. It even covers how to actually market yourself which is one of the most important skills. You can be the most highly skilled stunt performer or stunt double walking around yet if no one knows about you, then you have no career. So, you can find a link to this that video vlog post below this video. Just click and go right there and read it.
Yet some other skills and things are come from, let’s say if you do a martial arts training. Martial arts is important because you’re going to be doing a lot of fighting. That’s probably the most common stunt is fighting for camera or fight choreography. Whether you are beating someone up or getting beaten up, that’s like the bread and butter. The other is even doing some acrobatics. I say acrobatics more so than gymnastics because more free running and parkour relates more to film better than gymnastics. Gymnastics I mean you’re used to training in a gymnasium which has all types of mats and pads and everything else. Where free runners and parkour people just train out in the world. And that’s more what it’s like to do stunts.
You’re not going to have big fit mats and stuff that you’re going to cushion your fall out in the real world. So, I say acrobatics or gymnastics are good. Even if you have like a driving background. You ride motorcycles. You’re taking some type of training with cars. You can do car stunts and things. Those are good. Also, you’re going to need train regularly. This is what does it for some people is that they don’t like going to the gym. Yet all the stunt doubles like we have a bunch of guys in our team stunt double people. One of my buddies on our stunt team, he stunt doubles so many actors. Ridiculous. And he’s at the gym like maybe 4 days a week. Because he has to be in shape. Even the actors he stunt doubles aren’t even as good as shape as him.
Sometimes you have to put a fat suit on him to match the people. Because he’s a bigger guy, so he stunt doubles bigger guys. And sometimes, he’s not even doing action sequences. He’s literally sitting in a car because the actor doesn’t feel like sitting in a car. The car isn’t getting some shots of the car and the sun’s out. The actor’s like it’s hot out today. I’m not sitting in that car. Maybe call for a stand in. Boom! 1100 bucks a day. So, yet the gym is important. And it’s for men and women. You got to maintain your physical endurance because you have to do the stuff that the actors are not going to do. Most of these actors don’t work out. They got to look like they are in peak physical form beating people up, chopping them up with swords and shooting them up and all this type stuff, and that will be your job to do that.
Now, one way you can also learn some of the skills is going to a stunt workshop or stunt seminar. Don’t ask me why it’s a bad thing to call something a stunt school. It’s just something about this industry. I’m going to go to that in this video. Stunt workshop. Stunt seminar. Don’t call it a stunt school. Whatever you do. So, stunt workshops and stunt seminars are great. Do them. Because you will learn the skills and ideally, usually taught by stunt coordinators. And they are the one who are going to teach you the skills that you need to be successful in this career. So, that’s a really good place to train because all the other places that I mentioned, they don’t know what it’s like to work on a film set. There are going to teach parkour and martial arts and stuff and it’s not quite the same that someone at a stunt workshop or a stunt seminar. And you go to several. Not just one. When you do that, they’re going to be your training is going to be focused for film and tv.
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Again, my name is Dillon Wilson, with CBT stunt alliance. Train hard. Perform easy.
Don’t miss our next video where we share another pro stunt training tip. See you next video.
Frequently Asked Questions about
how to become a stunt double and how to become a stuntman
Q: When becoming a stunt double or stuntman, does it take a long time?
A: It doesn’t take long to do your training. Building your career DOES take time. Your commitment and sincerity determine that.
Q: How much do stunt actor training classes cost?
A: Classes, seminars and workshops range from $75 to $5,000 depending on where you go, what you want to learn and the duration of the training.
Q: Is there a lot of competition among professional stunt doubles?
A: Yes. Since you don’t have to look exactly like the actor you’re doubling there are many people who have the same physical build to double them.
Is there a lot of work for professional stunt actors and doubles?
A: Yes. A lot of projects need stunt doubles from dramas and action movies to romantic comedies and horror.