By: Stephen Dalton
The idea of becoming a professional stuntman has always intrigued many people, but is it a realistic career for pursue? If defying death and potentially making big money sounds like a good time, this may be the dream job for you. Or it could lead to you imminent paralysis and potential demise. Either way, it’ll get you out of that friggin’ cubicle!
Although the need for live-action stunts is slowly being replaced by computer generated image scenes (Is there anything Finding Nemo didn’t ruin?!), audiences will always appreciate the allure of a well performed stunt. Dar Robinson, one of Hollywood’s most famous stuntmen holds the Guinness World record for the highest paid stunt. (more details and photos after the jump) Robinson was a high-fall specialist and earned the largest payout of $150,000 for only a few ‘pants-pissingly terrifying’ seconds of work. In the 1982 film "Highpoint," Dar was required to jump off the 1,170 ft. CN Tower of Toronto, Canada. Dar jumped from the top and fell over 700 feet before deploying his concealed parachute. At the very last moment, and only 300 feet before Splatstown, Dar’s chute properly opened and he floated safely to the ground with only a bit of a rough landing.
Dar’s life might seem glamorous and amazing, being the coolest mofo on the planet and the ultimate badass. But tragically he was killed while performing a routine motorcycle stunt a few years later. This is the life of a stuntman, and it goes without saying that one has to really love the thrill of a day’s work more than the eventual monetary payoff.
The general range for a stuntman’s salary is around $70,000 a year, but first requires the performer to be well known in the entertainment business. Attending a stunt school is also a good way to get started. Although there are no legal qualifications or requirements to be a stuntman, no director or producer in Hollywood will hire a stuntman without a proven background of experience and distinguished body of work. Like many careers, you’ve gotta work work way up from the bottom. One of the major hurdles for someone in this industry is to join the screen actor’s guild union. Only card carrying union members are allowed to work in films.
For the beginner, the best way to join is to get 3 separate roles as an extra in a sanctioned film. For some more detailed steps check out Manny Siverio’s website. After years of hard falls and daring feats, a stuntman will earn enough experience to become a stunt coordinator for a film or television show. The stunt coordinator job is where the real money is. Using those years of experience, the coordinator will design and direct his stuntmen underlings to do some crazy stuff.
At the end of the day, this older guy with all the bruises and scars is banking well over $250,000 a year from a major studio production. Hey, another plus for the life of stuntman is that most likely no one will ever see your face. You’ll be in all the big movies, but won’t have to worry about being super cool and popular like Brad Pitt. Screw the paparazzi. So if you thing you’ve got what it takes, do your homework and then start breaking some stuff. Click on the images below for a little inspiration on your path to Evel Knievel-like glory. Any other suggestions for potential dream jobs? We wanna hear about them in the comments section. Weird and Wonderful: Jobs For People Who Think Differently Manny Siverio: How To Get Into Stunts StuntPerformer.com: FAQs IMDB: Dar Robinson