Our expert: Lucy Allen (BA 1984), professional stunt woman
To join the Stunt Register and become one of the true professional stunt performers in the UK, you must train yourself up to a recognised standard in six different physical disciplines as set down by the JISC Stunt Register of Co-ordinators and Performers. And believe me, this is no pushover. The dive test, for example, is ten dives from the ten metre platform at Crystal Palace swimming pool – all marked to international standard. To prove you have experience of working in the film and TV industry, you must complete at least 60 days work as a Supporting Artiste. Video evidence of your physical disciplines must also be submitted to the committee.
Being a member of the actors’ union Equity is also a must and getting this ticket is another hurdle to overcome. You might have to find work as a dancer, wrestler, juggler or stand-up comedian, all the while keeping up with your training. My route was fairly extreme – working as an international striptease artiste in Istanbul for six months.
If you are finally accepted onto the Register you will be considered a provisional member – and that’s when you start to learn the job under the eyes of a Stunt Co-ordinator. Your work will be observed and you have to keep records of what you have done. Over the years you can progress up the ranks through intermediate to full membership which means you will finally be in a position to become a Stunt Co-ordinator, supervising all the action and taking all the responsibility – not a job for the faint-hearted.
The stunt profession is a tightly knit organisation and by most industries standards it is very small, but don’t be fooled that it is easy to get into or be accepted by. You need to be dogged and tenacious, willing to learn and be criticised and you have to be able to stand long periods of unemployment as the phone will not always be ringing. You have to take joy in the most uncomfortable, difficult, jobs – stunt work is never glamorous – and make light of long boring periods of waiting around. A sense of humour is a must as is the ability to get on with all types of people and know when to shut up.
Needless to say you have to have great physical ability, strength, suppleness and courage, a touch of masochism doesn’t hurt and you must also be a natural performer. Oh, and as a provisional you have to be very good at getting the teas in! Think you can do it?