What is stunt work?
Stunt work is the art of performing dangerous film effects. The goal of a stunt is to spark emotions of the viewer. These are most often: anxiety, tension, excitement, fear, rage, and these scenes mostly don’t leave anyone indifferent. If viewers relive such moments, as if they were in a car with the stuntman while he is flipping the car over, than the stunt is successful, even if it is entirely harmless to be done.
When did stunt work begin?
If stunt work didn’t appear with the very first films shot, it certainly followed close. Stunt work emerged as a necessity. In the early days, actors themselves shot acrobatic feats and dangerous scenes, until the first injuries began. However, only with the appearance of the special effects coordinator and with formation of special teams that dealt exclusively with these issues (the so-called second unit) can we think of the actual early days of stunt work. We are talking about the golden age of the 50s when huge movie spectacles were shot that required a lot of stuntmen.
Who were the first stuntmen?
As early as 1916, there were two famous stuntmen – Klif Lajnos and Yak Canut, awarded with the Academy Honorary Award for their work. They were brave men who helped put this craft on stable legs. They were forced to improvise and try out things for the first time during the actual shooting. They had to learn on their own mistakes, which cost some of them their lives, and almost all suffered light or severe injuries. Tom Hinks boasted about his injuries, as he earned over a couple of hundreds (fractures and strains). Senior stuntmen used to take pride in their injuries, as if there were a rule – the more the injuries, the better the stuntman. This way, they raised the price of their work in the eyes of other people who hired and paid them. There have been examples of stuntmen who lead their producers to the place from which they were supposed to jump in order to justify their price.