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Stunt performers are employed by production companies to perform stunts in the place of actors in a film or television production. Closely associated with the acting profession, stunt performers are fully trained usually with previous experience in acting or working as an extra.
For any scene which requires a specialist skill or potentially dangerous stunt, actors are replaced by these qualified and skilled stunt doubles, to perform one or more stunts. Stunt performers will do the required stunts under the supervision and direction of a stunt co-ordinator.
There is a large variety of activities that a stunt performer could be involved in, including but certainly not limited to:
Work can be really varied, either outside on location or in a studio environment. Stunt performers may also be needed for more than one scene per production, or whenever their actor “double” is involved in a specialised sequence.
Whilst stunt performers may only be needed for a short time during a stunt, they are also responsible for researching safety aspects and particular techniques. Some of the work can be uncomfortable, so performers must have good stamina, and patience with the scenes. Having high levels of physical fitness and overall health is also important.
Stunt performers’ work can be dangerous, so most professionals are monitored by the Joint Industry Stunt Committee (JISC), making sure that each performer is properly trained and aware of all the health and safety measures. Being a member of the committee can greatly increase the chances of employment, but also requires experience in a number of the activities outlined above.