STUNT DRIVER - Requirements, Outlook, For More Information - Salary
More and more you see tiny type during car advertisements on television that reads “Professional driver.” What does that mean? In most instances, it means the driver has been specially trained to handle a vehicle in all conditions for the purpose of entertaining. These drivers do the high-speed chases seen in movies and on television. They also entertain the crowds at amusement parks, county fairs, and car shows. If you think that was really Vin Diesel driving in The Fast and the Furious, think again. He just had close-ups filmed while a professional handled the tricky driving.
All of these drivers have been to school and have trained long and hard to make the driving seem authentically reckless. Stunt driving looks cool, but it is the most dangerous driving discussed in this book. It is not for the faint-of-heart, nor is it for people who dislike taking risks. This profession is strictly for those people who like to mix speed and skill with more than a little risk-taking.
The organization Stunts Canada best describes the job: “Stunt performing is its own unique craft. No skill you have will make you a good stunt performer, yet every skill you have will be useful in performing stunts. Just as rock climbing does not make you a good motocrosser, gymnastics does not make you a good stunt performer. Strive to learn everything you can, listen more than you talk, be very, very patient and if you follow the basics (learn the language of film [working as an extra], be diligent in your physical training, promote yourself as a stunt performer), and if you have a true passion for film, you can be successful as a stunt performer. It's the greatest job in the world.”
Stunt performers sometimes work live as well, entertaining at monster truck shows or NASCAR events. Many stunt drivers shuttle between film work and live performance work. Mark Hager, for example, has coordinated stunts for and performed in hundreds of shows. In 1995, he broke a record by jumping 213 feet over a row of buses at NASCAR's Charlotte Motor Speedway Race. (Hager is from a family of stuntmen, which is not at all unusual in this profession.)
Stunt drivers usually maintain professional Web sites listing their accomplishments and featuring video clips of their best work. If you wish to become a stunt driver, you will have to assemble such a “clip reel” for prospective employers. That becomes your résumé and calling card for any job that requires a professional driver.
Of all the careers surveyed in this book, this one may be the hardest to achieve. It may be even harder to sustain.
Stunt drivers are paid for the work that is required for a particular job, so the rates are entirely flexible and negotiable. The greater the risk, the more money paid. But if you're a stunt driver on a film that involves a lot of car work, you stand to make more money given the time involved.
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