stunt performer

How to become stunt performer

What does a stunt performer do?

Stunt artists work on film or TV sets, standing in for actors when the script requires anything hazardous to be done. The work may appear exciting; but it can be extremely dangerous and stunt artists need highly developed physical skills to make it look easy.

Most stunt artists are involved in arranging and performing stunts, usually under the supervision of a stunt coordinator. They work with other film or TV technicians, producers and staff to plan the segment that will include the stunt. Every detail has to be planned to ensure minimum time wastage and disruption to filming, as well as the safety of all those involved. Stunt artists may specialise in all types of falls; fights; water sports; horse riding, skiing, parachuting; motorcycle or precision driving work.

Due to the dangerous nature of the work, health and safety is extremely important and every proposed stunt has to be worked out in the finest detail to minimise the risk to artists. Full risk assessment documentation must be completed for each stunt.

What's the working environment like for a stunt performer?

Hours are dependent on filming schedules and may involve early starts and late finishes.When filming, most stunt artists work long hours (up to 18-hour days). Evening and weekend work is also common due to the demands of filming.

Stunt artists may work inside or outside in varying weather conditions. Travel to different film sets or TV locations is involved. They may wear protective clothes, helmets or harnesses.

As work is on a project-by-project basis, you'll typically be self-employed and may need to do other work to maintain a living when you're not working as a stunt performer.

What does it take to become a stunt performer?

Stunt artists should:

  • have a high level of physical fitness and a commitment to staying extremely fit
  • have an interest in many different sports and outdoor pursuits
  • be highly motivated and willing to work in a job which can cause serious or life threatening injuries
  • be able to work successfully in a team
  • have some acting skills, although formal experience is not essential
  • be able to plan and pay attention to detail
  • have good communication skills, to give and receive instructions and work well with a large team of people on set.
  • Some acting skills may be useful, however formal training isn't always necessary


Stunt performer career opportunities

There are only about 300 stunt performers in the UK which means that competition for work is strong. Work opportunities for stunt artists may be decreasing due to the advances of digital technology, which mean that certain stunts can be enhanced by computer graphics, without actually using a stunt artist.

The main employers are film and TV companies, which means stunt artists could work anywhere on location in the UK or abroad.

Many stunt artists go on to be stunt arrangers or co-ordinators on TV or film sets later in their career. Some manage to move into second unit director work (a second unit director is the person who organises the action part of films or TV programmes).

Further information

If you would like to know more about becoming a stunt artist that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Guild House
Upper St Martin’s Lane
Tel: 020 7379 6000

Prospect House
80-110 New Oxford Street

Skillset Careers
Tel: 08080 300 900 for England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Tel: 0808 100 8094 for Scotland

Creative and Cultural Skills
Tel: 0800 093 0444


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