If you are active, fit, have lots of energy and aren’t afraid to take risks, you may want to consider a career as a stunt double. This is a less conventional path in the industry, to be sure, but many movies require actors to have doubles for action-packed scenes. So, there is work out there for the taking.
Because of the unconventionality of this career choice, there are no formal training programs, per se. You won’t be able to enroll in a program designed specifically for landing stunt double gigs and get a certificate of completion. You will have to forge your own path, taking on opportunities to hone your skills.
Consider taking sessions in stage combat and enrolling in gymnastics or martial arts. You’ll need to learn to be limber and quick on your feet. You’ll also need to be able to maintain balance and proper posture and contort your body into highly skilled positions in order to make it as a professional double.
As with any other entertainment career choice, the field is competitive. It has been recommended that stunt doubles train in more than one area of expertise to maintain their spot on the call list. This means, you’ll have to think out-of-the-box and enroll in some specialty areas, such as weaponry and stunt horseback riding. You’ll want to be prepared to be a double regardless of what criteria is demanded of you for the role.
It is also important to network and stay active as a background actor, especially on projects that may allow you to showcase your skills. You’ll want to get your name out there and pitch yourself as a skilled stunt actor whenever possible.
If there’s an opportunity to network with someone who’s already made it big in this particular niche, reach out and engage this person in conversation. Many stunt men and women come from a long line of family members in the business, according to professional stuntman, Robert Chapin. They were exposed to the profession and started training at a young age. In order to break in, you’ll need to show your stuff to the right people.
Breaking into stunt work via background roles which will eventually allow you to join a union is your best bet. Once you’re affiliated with a union, you will be able to get in touch with an onset stunt coordinator responsible for casting. Above all, never give up on your dream! Your big break may be right around the corner.
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