The recent shutdown has greatly affected our ability to create content for the proposed Summer 2020 launch of our online training platform. As soon as it is safe for our instructors, we will be back to work making training videos. We are estimating a fourth quarter 2020 or first quarter 2021 launch, However, if you are interested in the online training, we suggest you submit a request for information now so we can put you on a list to be contacted as soon as launch date is finalized. Stay safe!
STUNT PERFORMERS are individuals who put themselves in potential danger while performing stunts or doubling actors on film & television productions. Now you can study these skills and put them into action on the set! Imagine fighting off zombies in a post-apocalyptic future, falling from a stagecoach in the old west, flying through the air on wires like a superhero, clashing steel with knights on a medieval battlefield, or having a laser battle against alien creatures on an abandoned space station... These are the things that happen in the exciting life of a professional stunt performer! Now you can be a part of this action packed industry!
For those who live in Colorado, you can train directly with the ROCKY MOUNTAIN STUNTS team. We meet regularly to practice fight choreography, the safe use of theatrical firearms, the ability to fall and recover, fighting with classical weaponry, working with fire, flying on wires, and interacting with breakaways and props. If you are interested in getting involved with our weekly training program, send us a message.
For those of you who can't train directly with our team, we have created ACTIONFX ONLINE, a resource to learn foundation stunt skills we like to call Fights, Falls, and Firearms. Taught by industry professionals, the training is comprehensive and delivered in a unique way that offers a progressive approach to learning and refining action related skills that will help you on your path to success in the industry.
“Mark Grove is the very best. His skills as a martial artist and fight arranger are inspirational. He is well versed in all forms of stunt work and special effects, which makes him the perfect mentor for up and coming action performers. He is also a writer and director who specializes in action genre filmmaking, which makes him a great resource for breaking into this highly competitive field. My advice...if you get an opportunity to train with him...Don’t pass it up.”
“As a Martial Artist of over 50 years I can tell when someone is the real deal. Mark Grove is such a man. I had the honor and pleasure of working with him and his Rocky Mountain Stunt Team. His team was expertly trained, efficient, and professional in every respect. Mark Grove’s style of action direction was very innovative with the flavor of classical martial arts combined with modern gritty realism.”
“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mark Grove in various capacities. As a Producer he has always taken care of his actors on every level. As a Writer/Director his creativity and collaborative energy is electrifying. As a Stunt Coordinator he is dedicated to creating powerful safe action for all his projects. All of these skills and qualities make him the perfect guide to those interested in pursuing a career in the film and television industry.”
Here is a rehearsal and final footage comparison with action performer Sara Salazar against Rocky Mountain Stunts team members Matt Feula, Cameron Carter, Nate Coyle, Courtney Felling, Scott Sheely, and Emmanuel Hernandez.
Here Rocky Mountain Stunts team members rehearse a firearm reversal set and a aerial fall and recovery for an upcoming project.
Cameron Carter and Nathan Coyle got to fight many other members of the Rocky Mountain Stunts team in this Ninja action clip showing the rehearsal and then some of the final footage.
Rocky Mountain Stunts team members practice various fight sequences at the beginning of 2020 before the social distancing shutdown.
Fighting is an action performers bread and butter. Being able to simulate aggressive action with an opponent seems simple, but the dynamics involved are extremely intricate. We will teach you all aspects of communicating with physical dialogue.
Falling and basic acrobatics are important because a stunt performer hits the ground... a lot. We will teach you a variety of breakfalls, rolls, leaping, as well as more advanced skills such as falling down stairs, over objects, and from heights up to 20 feet.
Guns are very prevalent in the film industry and learning the safe use of firearms as well as the proper tactical skills is important. We will teach you how to handle and use both prop and blank-fire weapons as we guide you through some basic action scenarios.
You are a character from the Old West. You will fight with rugged conviction in a no nonsense fashion, throwing haymakers that deliver jaw-breaking power in the name of frontier justice.
You are a character from the Far East.
You will fight with technical precision, delivering offensive and defensive maneuvers with stylized movements that reflect both grace and focused energy.
You are a character from the mean streets. You mix hybrid martial arts with a bit of dirty fighting in a no rules mentality where quick thinking is the only way to survive in a city plagued with violence.
You are a character from a fantasy world. You wield swords, staves, daggers, and a variety of other exotic weapons on your quest to vanquish evil creatures and defend the realm.
You are a modern action hero character who is armed and dangerous. You will fire, reload, move, and disarm opponents with a flair reminiscent of one who serves on her Majesties secret service.
Learning to take a bullet, a hurled dagger, or a flying arrow is an art form. Whether its via camera trick, a wire guided projectile, or a pneumatic effect, the performer must learn to sell the hit.
1. Once a potential student requests training via phone or email, they will be emailed an enrollment packet that must be filled out, digitally signed, and returned.
2. Once we have received the completed paperwork and vetted the student, they will be sent an email confirming their successful membership.
3. At that point the new student will be allowed to start with the first program of the system. Once the program fee has been paid, they will receive a link to a private showcase that requires a unique pass code. This will allow them to view step by step instructional videos, demonstrations, and interview style Q&A's with instructors.
4. Students will have an allotted amount of time, depending on the program, to complete their independent study and shoot video of themselves performing the skills to be sent in for evaluation. If all video lessons are completed, a certificate of completion will be awarded. At the end of the enrollment cycle for a program, the pass code will be deactivated and the videos will no longer be able to be viewed.
5) After the first program is completed, the student will be allowed to progress to the second program. Each program will need to be purchased independently and this process will continue forward from program to program unless the students has purchased multiple programs in advance.
6) All programs start at the beginning of the next full month.
WHAT TYPE OF PERSON MAKES A GOOD STUNT PERFORMER?
Active people with strong body awareness make the best stunt performers. These people come from physical lifestyles that involve things like gymnastics, martial arts, extreme sports, and even dancing because these skills have a fluid dynamic that translates very well to film.
WHAT TYPE OF PERSON DOESN'T MAKE A GOOD STUNT PERFORMER?
Thrill-seekers and daredevils with no regard for their own safety. Stunt performers need to be focused and disciplined with the knowledge that they are expected to approach an action sequence in a safe and professional manner rather than an arrogant attitude more interested in the adrenaline rush than the project.
CAN STUNT PERFORMERS ALSO BE ACTORS?
Stunt performers are actors. They mostly deliver physical dialogue rather than words. Most the time stunt performers are cast as street thugs, police officers, military personnel, or an average person walking on the street who has to jump out of the way of a speeding car. That said, stunt performers who are also trained as actors are more prepared to play characters that have more than one or two lines. At the end of the day acting is another valuable tool in the overall arsenal.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A STUNT PERFORMER AND A STUNT DOUBLE?
A stunt performer is a general term for someone who executes a difficult action that involves a dangerous element. A stunt double takes the place of an actor in a scene requiring action by dressing in duplicate clothing and performing the dangerous part of the scene. The actor is brought back in when the stunt is complete. If a stunt person is lucky, they will find a high profile actor who they work with all the time.
IS IT EASY TO BECOME A FULL TIME STUNT PERFORMER?
Of course not, if it were easy everyone would do it. However, if you have the drive and tenacity to train hard, do the work, get the gear, and build your promotional materials, you have a much better chance to succeed. The concept of FULL TIME work is not something that really applies to the film industry. You will likely have gaps in work based on the time of year, what productions are starting up, how connected you are, and if you have the right look and skills needed for a show. The life of an artist!
WHAT GEAR DO I NEED?
Well, stunt performers usually have a "stunt bag" with all the basic safety gear they may need on set. These include hard and soft knee and elbow pads, shin and forearm protection, tailbone pad, rib protector, back pad, mouth guard, black non-descript shoes, thin leather gloves, and other items like these that are valuable in many situations. Beyond that, there are a variety of specialized items that can be added. Flame retardant clothing, custom wire harnesses, rappelling gear, or any other items that go along with your personal repertoire of skills.
ARE STUNT PERFORMERS PART OF THE SCREEN ACTORS GUILD?
Yes. Any on-screen performer is part of SAG-AFTRA, the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. However, when you start out you will be non-union and your goal is to get into the union in order to have guaranteed industry standard pay rates for your work. Until then you will negotiate your rate on non-union shows that will range from free work for experience to whatever you can convince them you are worth.
HOW DO I GET IN THE UNION?
The best way into the Union is to get what is called a Taft-Hartley contract. This is when a Casting Director or Stunt Coordinator chooses to hire you, a non-union performer, to play a principle role or perform dangerous stunts. They must file a form explaining to the union why they chose to hire you instead of one of the 120,000+ members who are already part of the union. The best way to do this is to be an exceptional actor or a highly skilled action performer with special talent or ability.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL RATE FOR A STUNT PERFORMER?
The current union scale day-rate is $906.00. However, there are a variety of low budget and ultra-low budget contracts that SAG-AFTRA offers producers to make professional performers available to smaller productions. So, depending on the type of contract, that rate can fluctuate.
WHAT IS A STUNT ADJUSTMENT?
The terms "stunt adjustment" refers to an extra amount of money given to a stunt performer doing more difficult stunts. Full body burns, high falls, car rolls, or other such gags typically get higher bumps in pay. Sometimes the budget allows for small adjustments for simpler stunts as well, all depends on the size of the show.
DO STUNT PERFORMERS GET RESIDUALS?
Yes, every time a show airs on television, cable, a premium channel, VOD, etc, the performer can earn a small percentage that is gathered by the union and paid via check or direct deposit various times throughout the year. The more successful the show, the higher the residuals.
DO I NEED A HEADSHOT AND/OR DEMO REEL?
Yes, but unlike the recent past where you had to mail these items to a production office, they are more often delivered digitally online. A good headshot, a resume detailing your personal attributes, credits, special skills, and training, and a well edited reel showing brief clips showing your physical abilities are a huge key to your success. That said, showing the same type of skill over and over in different settings is not variety, make sure you show a diverse range of abilities.
WHAT IF I DON'T LIVE NEAR A PRODUCTION HUB LIKE LA OR NEW YORK?
There are places around the country that have larger film communities for sure, but filmmakers are everywhere. Creativity is not isolated to a location. Starting out in a smaller market to gain a bit of experience can be beneficial before trying to move to one of these locations. Or if you are happy where you are, just thrive in your local film community.
SHOULD I WORK ON LOW/NO BUDGET FILMS TO GET FOOTAGE FOR MY REEL?
The general answer is yes, but make sure you don't advocate unsafe practices by doing stunts you are not trained to do. Make sure there is insurance that covers the stunts and a qualified stunt coordinator on board to ensure your safety and protection. To be clear, by qualified, I mean a person who has extensive credits on real productions doing stunts, not a parkour instructor, a martial arts black belt, or someone who has served in the military or law enforcement. All these are respected professions, but they do not qualify someone to be a stunt coordinator. Lastly, never ever offer to BE the stunt coordinator if there isn't one on the show. Don't let ego guide you down this rabbit hole of liability and danger. No show is worth risking anyone's safety and if the production can't "afford" to do it correctly, they should not be making an action picture. Stay safe, stay working.