Chad Stahelski | The Backlot Podcast | New York Film Academy

Hi I’m Eric Conner senior instructor at New York Film Academy. And in this episode we bring you stuntman turned director Chad Stahelski.

I’ve had over a thousand stitches broke my back my neck both arms both shoulders both knees ankle and my face has been reconstructed twice.

As Keanu Reeves’s stunt double. He battled an infinite number of Agent Smiths in the Matrix trilogy. He helped wolverine slice Spidermen swing Mr. and Mrs. Smith wreak havoc and even worked as a stunt double for Johnny Knoxville of Jackass fame. Can you imagine how terrifying stuff must be if Johnny Knoxville wouldn’t even do it. But it’s his directing on the john wick trilogy which has established him as one of the best action directors out there. And his remarkable career might not have even happened if not for. Of all things snow.

I’m from Massachusetts. East Coast was well decided to go to school at USC at the time because geographically it was about the furthest place I could get into. That was away from snow at the time I was very heavy into martial arts. My parents were athletes so I got into it. Remember. This is way long ago when martial arts weren’t cool you didn’t really get a date if you did karate. You know the UFC wasn’t around yet. Jackie Chan wasn’t known yet if you knew about Bruce Lee you really didn’t go on a date. So yeah that was my kind of gig. And as I was going to school I was competing and stunt coordinator was in the audience you saw me compete said Well you might make a good stunt guy. So they had me double Kris Kristofferson on like a million dollar movie. And that was probably in 1990. And then I just got into the business through them and. I was doing a lot of TV work at the time and my boss came to me one day and I just got hit by a car. So I wasn’t really seeing things right and he said hey look they’re auditioning stunt guys who have a certain skill set. For this guy Keanu Reeves you know anything about him was like I don’t know you know saw him in that bill and ted’s movie. So I went and auditioned and that movie ended up being the matrix. And I passed all the auditions and then I was with the Wachoskis and Yuen Wo Ping who’s one of the best martial art choreographers on the planet from Crouching Tiger fame got to know Keanu and we spent the next eight years making the Matrix trilogy.

A common expression in Hollywood is you need to pay your dues considering what Chad Stahelski has put his body through as a stunt man that feels like a massive understatement.

To date I have 13 surgeries under my belt. I’ve had over a thousand stitches broken my back my neck both arms both shoulders both knees ankle and my hip my face has been reconstructed twice on the first Matrix I broke everything in my right side. That’s why you see like I don’t sit still. And that’s because things start hurting. But that’s again. I was. In the top 5 percent of stunt doubles at the time I was actively performing nearly. Every day or every other day on high end martial art shows and at the time you know what you guys what we called rigging or wire work. Before wire removal they did it on piano wire. So the stunt guys were very small very light. They had to be otherwise the piano wire would break. When you’re figuring you’re doing high end ratchets or what we call wire work. When you see a guy gets yanked back or they fly that’s wire work at the time the systems weren’t quite developed. So you kind of had a better than average chance of coming out. OK. But when you doing from there about 80 feet in the air and 200 feet that way. Doesn’t always work out well sometimes the math is a little off. OK. When I started maybe there were three or four deaths a year. And it’s usually it all goes back to human error. Or people just being really either ignorant or just f**king dumb. Someone should have said this isn’t a great idea or they didn’t rehearse it properly. You know doing a rehearsal in a gym is one thing doing it out on location with explosions with stuff. And every all the factors are different. And it’s you know I was on the set of the crowd I was on the set of the expendables. I’ve witnessed two fatalities. And it’s always down to the same thing it’s let’s hurry up and go. Don’t worry it’s a lot of yes men going. All right. We’ve got no time. If you had had time if they had had time or if they had like another three hours ago no one would have said go. They all would have said yeah this is dumb but because you gotta go we got to go let’s go. We got to go. We got to go. And everyone goes yeah we got to go will it be OK yeah should be OK. Let’s go. And like you get a bunch of. Like a person is smart people are dumb. Ever hear that expression you get a group of really smart people together but they’re all tired and they all got to go and they want to make it happen. That’s when dumb decisions get made. And every time I can try to when I have been hurt a lot of times it’s me being like you know I’m trying to go into ego stunt guy I’m a tough guy I can do it. I should have no business getting up on that thing. Should have tested the rig and done it and then we should have done three or four more tests. No we got it let’s just go. I can do it I can make it. And next thing my legs turned around backwards. And believe me it’s not like the movies. Literally where you get up and go Yeah and you spit and you wipe the blood off. I cried and peed my pants and then I went to the hospital. So yeah that wasn’t cool. But it’s so much better now nowadays honestly because my wife is still a performer and I’m ultra protective of her and the stunt team she works with most of the time it’s just our stunt team now. But the rigging capabilities the safety precautions the entire industry has come a long way. Like stunt men are all professional athletes that are usually in bed by 9 because the competition. If I told you right now just be really good listen to what I say and you can make half a million dollars. Smart ones will make it. You know. Will go to bed early stop. They’re not going to chase girls all night they’re not going to do drugs they’re going to drink they’re going to go work out in the gym like it’s a whole different attitude nowadays. It’s very very very professional and everybody’s very very into being safe because there the few accidents do happen. Trust me it’s crushing crushing when it happens to the entire industry.

A discussion about stuntmen would not be complete without a shout out to the great Hal Needham like Chad Stahelski. Mr Needham started out taking his bumps as a double for the irreplaceable Burt Reynolds. Before launching his own directing career with Smokey and The Bandit. Mr Needham had a distaste for digital chicanery that was used to remove harnesses and other safety measures. But As Mr Stahelski explains stuntwork is no longer treated like the Wild West.

It was a fledgling part of the industry back then but again even the special effect guy where they used to be known as a little bit loose and yeehaw and the stunt guys yeehaw and the stunt guys the effects guys were like put more black powder in. It’s kind of changed in that everyone’s on the same page. The whole level of people you’re talking about you know MBAs in chemistry. Now you’re talking about structural and physical engineers are taking over. It’s just the money involved now. And the lawsuits and like you know Marvel has a you know 3 billion dollar interest in their movies you know like Warner Bros and DC like those are you do not want somebody getting hurt on you don’t want anybody turn ing an ankle. You know like these are franchises and dollar amounts to be protected so yeah everyone wants to you know they got the half a billion dollar insurance policy. Like you don’t want anybody getting hurt you don’t want a hang nail. So the medics I think everybody it’s pretty pro. I mean. The last couple of times I’ve been on set is incredibly incredibly well put together incredibly safe.

Mr Stahelski had been a stunt performer for years when he signed up for the Matrix. Not only did he perform in some of the best action scenes of the past 20 years. He also found a pair of artistic mentors in the Wachowskis.

The Wachowskis took me under their wing. Most of what I know about filmmaking really came from them and they really are genius filmmakers. If you look at the way they. Compose and detail and create worlds and I ended up directing they gave me a camera and I was like trying to figure it out and then I’d go shoot little things and little tactically second unit things. From them over the next eight years I learned quite a bit from them. And then I had a good relationship with Warner Brothers afterwards and they gave me a few smaller films to action direct. And then it just kind of blew up from there when the matrix came out and it was such a success. There weren’t a lot of people with our skill set as choreographers a choreographer is just a dance choreographer. Every time you see a martial art fight or a fight scene or wire work or even a gunfight there’s a guy like me that will go and block it and choreograph it and hire the stuntmen to do it and help the director find the interesting angles to shoot it and how the logistics are of you know whether it’s visual effects wire work stunts explosions all that kind of stuff and we help them put it together. So after the matrix came out that was very much in demand. So it was like a niche market. Second unit for you guys who don’t know most action movies or most bigger movies have at least two units sometimes three. What they call first unit or main unit that’s your real director. A lot of the dialogue the acting. Sometimes there’s a second unit which is technically if you’re going to want an aerial shot of Rome you send that guy first unit never even goes. They just do their shots sometimes it’s like four guys a camera in a helicopter and that’s second unit. Or second unit could be bigger than first unit doing a big battle sequence you know like in the new movie hacksaw Ridge. There’s a big second all the big establishing shots are probably second unit or Braveheart with all the horses. Anything that doesn’t have your lead cast in it then you have like an action unit that may or may not have lead cast in it. And do big sequences then you may even have a third or fourth unit with visual effects that are shooting all your blue screen elements or the digital composer or modeling or anything like in the original Star Wars. So we got very good at crossing line in all the other directing work.

As a stunt coordinator. Mr Stahelski helped create the ultimate superhero showdown in Captain America Civil War.

Underoos.

Nice job kid.

Hey everyone.

The airport battle with the Avengers split in two going against each other helped bring the Marvel Universe to dizzying new heights and the sequence never would have worked without the extensive preparation before they filmed. With this in mind Chad Stahelski and his partner David Leitch started a company focused on bringing action to life.

My partner Dave Leitch and I Dave’s directing the new Deadpool as well. He was my codirector on John Wick. We have a company called 87Eleven we’re a one of a kind company that pretty much we call it its action design you can hand us a script you hand us a sequence and we write it. And we design it and we bring it to fruition rather than just writing something that can’t be achieved or can be achieved for an extra hundred million dollars. We work with the producers the directors anything and actually build an action sequence and hopefully employing just like you know a couple years ago the X Games were new snowboarding was new the MMA was new. Now you cut to what’s new tomorrow. Not what they’re trying to do today so studios will come to us a lot and have us design a new sequence. So the Russos are kind of friends of ours from the commercial days people that we had know and really really dug and they had just saw John Wick and they were like oh my god. Can you help us with Spiderman we’re like yeah sure that would be great. So we helped design the Captain America and Bucky stuff in civil war and we helped design the airport sequence and that’s the sequence we shot the airport sequence with all the actual civil war part. Part of I think why we got such the education we did or the back and we did is you coming up. You work with the Wachowskis you work with Fincher we did Zack Snyder we did worked a lot with Guy Ritchie. I mean just that alone. Is. You know on second unit jobs. I got to direct Robert De Niro I got to do Hugh Jackman I got to do Tom Hardy I get like you know these are just so by the time you go to film school like that you’ve directed you’ve worked with lead cast you’ve worked with some of the best directors on the planet if you pay attention not just to you know where to put the camera but how to run the business how to budget and how to spend the money they give you. You can be fairly efficient. And that’s kind of the best film school you could ever go to.

One of the reasons Mr Stahelski achieved success as a stunt coordinator was because he was needed on set and the directors who didn’t do their homework or prep for their action scenes but they needed him even more.

You gotta know where directors come from you know back in back in the day they could have been artists or photographers or poets or writers or novelists like it. They’re very well. Versed in in a broad sense of education. Now you can have a music video director. You can have anyone of you right out a film school you know you do a cool project somebody sees it oh he’s got a little bit of shine and they’ll give you a fifty million dollar movie OK and there’s guys that come from production design that are directors and a stunt guy you know visual effects supervisors so you don’t really know if they’ve come from an on set or in the trenches background they probably have an inkling of at least what a good stunt or bad stunt is or what an action design may look like. Most of the problems with action design is tone like what kind of most directors don’t know tone that’s where most of the cleanup jobs we have to go in and fix are tone it’s like that’s why sometimes you watch a movie and it’d be kind of funny kind of weird kind of serious kind of cause the guys kind of gaze all over the place go. You know we always want is OK so what do you want out of your movie. And they’ll go well you know that scene in Captain America we’re going to do that but then we’re going to do Bourne. But then we want this scene where it’s like you know American history x and then but it’s a little Buster Keaton and I’m like. Wow that’s a hell of a movie dude. So if you don’t know what your movie is you’re going to have a problem. You know tonally through the action as well. Like you brought up earlier like John Wick it is brutal it is violent just because of the way we chose to shoot it because it’s it’s connective it’s not like the typical gunfight where you do a single on the guy shooting and you reverse and see the guy falling down. It is connected. And in order to do that that’s in close proximity intimacy always brings more emotional content to it but that kind of ties in with tone and that’s what you have to explain. So if you can get that but back to your question. Different directors come from different backgrounds some are very versed some are not. The best thing I can say to anybody here that wants to be a director is it should never be the way it is kind of in Hollywood today. That’s kind of the biggest thing I shouldn’t say. That’s why I have so many houses right now. I don’t I only have one but it’s really big. It’s mostly because they come in and they think oh well Chad’s the action guy or Bob’s the action guys or Scott’s the action guy. So I’m just going to go eat lunch. That’s the worst attitude you can have. How many movies have you recently watched where it just becomes a gunfight or just becomes a fight scene and it’s the obligatory third act. I got to beat up the giant robot. But you don’t really feel anything you don’t care. You don’t really see the actors faces cause he’s in a suit a hood or a mask. That’s because it wasn’t shot by the director that’s because the cast wasn’t even on set. That was the second unit guys trying to get it done with what First unit gave them because you know you know Bob the action star has already gone home or he’s in his house in the Bahamas. And we’re trying to finish the movie. It’s become this thing where action has been divided where storytelling stops. And then we’re supposed to just go in and do an action scene because the studio wants an action scene like at what point like take your godfather. Anything like that. DeNiro was in that scene. You know what I mean Scorsese shot it. You know what I mean like they kept it in storytelling was just part of the action.

When you watch The Matrix you’d assume the Wachowskis had an extensive background in martial arts. Well that’s not the case. They just did their homework.

When you go into a director whether they know or not the best ones they may not know anything about stunts the Wachowskis didn’t know. They’re two kids from Chicago that used to draw comic books and that’s how they got into the business. Used to draw comic books but as soon as they knew they always loved watching Kung Fu they went to China got hooked up with Yuen Wo Ping the best Kung Fu choreo on the planet. They went to the source and for two years educated themselves and wrote the matrix. So when they came to us they can they can name every move with the Cantonese name in that first fight scene in the dojo. You know and they burn in they were in every rehearsal they were they were in live in rehearsals with an actor how many of you guys have seen an Arri 3. It’s a big ass camera that weighs about 85 pounds. They put it on their shoulders just to find the angles and figure out what is possible. So they get those great angles in the matrix like they gave a s***. They knew action is a huge part of what the Matrix is. Imagine matrix with sh*** fight scenes. It’s not the same movie right it wouldn’t blow your doors off. They did it. They knew that. Why is Jackie Chan. Well it’s simple because it’s Jackie. They’re like OK well we’ve got to get Jackie Chan we’re just going to call him Keanu Reeves. And Carrie-Anne Moss and they are all that was in the contract. It’s like you’re going to give us six months of your life in a gym and then we’re going to do this movie. But we ain’t going to pay you. But it’s going to be a great movie and that takes a lot for a castmember to do so kudos to Keanu and the rest of the cast but that’s directing. If you’re going to do a movie about you know horse racing learn about horse racing you’re doing a movie about boxing learn about boxing. Don’t divide it up. Storytelling is storytelling.

Mr Stahelski’s growing list of credits as a stunt coordinator and second unit director showed that he was more than ready to direct but he faced one small problem. The material being sent his way was just not good until he came across a professional bad ass named John Wick.

It’s not what you did son it’s who you’d do that too.

That nobody is John Wick.

You dip so much as a pinky back into this pond you may well find something. Reaches out and you back into its depths.

I lost everything.

They know you’re coming.

Of course. But it won’t matter.

People keep asking if I’m back yeah I’m thinking I’m back.

We’d been trying to direct my partner and I for a couple of years but we just we got I think let’s see like every Navy SEAL ninja assassin script out there and they’re really bad. I’m certain you’ve seen probably most of them that were made. No they were really bad scripts and then Keanu who I hadn’t talked to in a while called up one day and said hey I got this script did you want to read it. And I read it and John Wick was let’s see. He was 65 years old. His dog was a German shepherd. His wife died when she was 50. And it all took place in New Jersey and it wasn’t nothing against New Jersey. It just wasn’t very sexy. So I was a big fan of when I was in college I was a big fan of mythology Greek mythology and stuff so we said Well why don’t we just remodel this to be a Greek myth. So we did it if you go back and watch the first John Wick you’ll see that there’s a lot of mythological references in it. The underworld Charon the river Styx all this kind of stuff. So we just painted it over and made it a mythical world. After spending ten years with the Wachowskis you. Nothing else you know how to world build. So we kind of went into that and our action background gave us like I don’t know if you guys know about budgeting but the first John Wick was made for about 18 million bucks. That sounds like a big chunk if you’re gonna buy a new car but for making a movie it’s not very much money. So we had to come up with ways to do things very cheap especially when you’re shooting in New York. So when we do a longer takes and stuff like that we just literally told Keanu Yeah like the more coverage you do the longer it takes. That’s why you see all the editing so we’re like look we want to do something cool we’ll do like we’ll go back with Jackie Chan and all that stuff and we’ll do longer takes less editing. But the payback is like. You know Keanu’s got to spend three months in the gym learning all this stuff because at the time he was 50 years old. I don’t know if you guys most people can’t walk when they’re 50 let alone do jujitsu. So we beat the s**t out of him for about three months. We have a facility. Here in town that trains cast. That’s where we train all the Marvel people the DC superheroes and all that stuff so we got Keanu in there with the best tactical gun people jujutsu guys and stunt guys and just he literally lived there.

John Wick is one of the best action franchises produced by Hollywood in years. When you watch the film’s set pieces it’s clear there is a stunt man behind the camera and it’s also clear that Keanu Reeves who’s now in his 50s is the one doing his own hand-to-hand combat.

The reason we did what we did on John Wick was not just to you know show off and say look at our guy. The reason is like how many you guys have seen in action movies the scene with the two FBI guys and CIA guys open the folder and go Joe. He was Navy SEALs he was three tours like he’d tell you how bad ass he is. But do you ever see him do anything bad ass. Not really. We figured let’s not do that scene and John’s going to cry over a puppy. He’s going to lay down in his boxer shorts. He’s going to be mopey. And then when he picks up a gun then you get to see him. You don’t have to ask whether he’s bad ass and you don’t have to worry about the editing. You don’t have to worry about the VFX you’re actually seeing who. Keanu Reeves do something that you think is kind of difficult right. There’s no cuts. It’s him doing it all. You all love Jackie Chan right. Jackie’s awesome. Great guy. Give me the name of his character in any movie. Maybe you get a Lee. Most of the time it’s just Jakie right. But you really don’t care because why it’s Jackie you going to see Jackie you don’t care who the character is. You don’t care what the plot is you want to see Jackie. And why do you love him so much. You don’t love the back of his head right. You don’t love the super wide Top Shot. You love Jackie because you know that’s the guy that fell off that f**king clocktower right. Yeah that’s why you believe it. So there’s believability in the character. When you see a character emote it’s the same thing when you really see Christian Bale cry that’s really Christian Bale crying. You get on board with that. But if you just saw the back of his head crying you don’t really care. It sounds silly but that’s what you’re doing with action. If you see the guy doing his own action that’s great. Like stunt doubles are great don’t get me wrong I made a great job out of it. But at some point not everybody can do the splits well some of us have got to go on and do the splits. That’s just the way it is. Not everybody wants to get hit by a bus. Some of us are dumb enough to go and get hit by a bus. OK for a lot of money.

Perhaps most impressively John Wick’s action scenes are actually clear. We feel the tension all the more since we understand and feel what’s happening. But Mr Stahelski shares the credit for this. With all the directors who inspired him.

It’s not really us. We copied stuff from the 70s 60s and 70s and obviously you know we have a huge influence with. Sergio Leone Bernardo Bertolucci Andrei Tarkovsky all framing composition you probably recognize in there the Wachowskis are obviously huge but you gotta remember why editing exists. It controls pacing and framing wise it exists. I believe in choice more than anything. And when I was a second unit director working say I was working for you I would try to design a sequence and help design it so that you had choices. Meaning I’m trying to get the actor to do as much as you can like so you try to give the director choices about how to spin the choreography how to make the guys move. I believe that editing should be a creative choice. I believe framing and shots should be a creative choice. Most things are done today unfortunately like. Let’s look back at Paul Greengrass second Bourne when we first really brought back shaky cam. When I was coming up shaky cam was just called bad camera work. And you got fired for it. And now it’s back so they don’t even try you can just do this. You had to call. It was like pool You had to call your shot back in the day and now you just swirl around with five cameras. But Paul did it for a very interesting reason just didn’t talk about it he did it because he wanted Bourne the character of Bourne to feel frantic and frenetic and disorientated. That’s why he did it. And if you go back and watch the secong Bourne. It’s not super kooky it’s just kinetic. And you get that he put the pulse in it he wanted to infuse pace in something I think that’s a great use of handheld that’s a great use of more ballistic editing even when you’re crossing the line and doing things like that. Unfortunately that’s become a time saving technique. I’m sure you guys know time is money in the film industry. You have a 12 hour day. Some directors average three setups a day. Some can get as many as 50. You’re judged by your setups setups mean coverage coverage means you have to time time management is probably the best logistical skill a director can have because you don’t want to spend two hours shooting this guys close up and then 20 minutes on your close up when it’s Brad Pitt going to get yelled at for that. It’s become a way to hide. Instead of a way to show.

In John Wick Chapter 2. One of the flat out coolest sequences was set in a club filled with mirrors. It turns out it was also the most difficult.

The mirror room just logistically. I only mean that because no one knew what the hell I was talking about when I pitched it. I’m a huge Bruce Lee fan so that was my tribute to enter the Dragon. We wanted to do it like that something like that doesn’t like that location doesn’t exist. We built that that’s one of the few builds in the movie. So when you get that you have to think 1 What is the cost. What is the just you have to think of that one three months before you even show up on set. And you gotta start designing it. Now no one’s ever built a mirror room before for a gunfight that I could find. So you’re like okay so me and the stunt team went out and bought a bunch these really cheap dance mirrors. About 50 of them and lined a room about this big with them and started creeping around with a little toy gun on weekends with our iPhone’s and trying to figure out okay you see the guy there I don’t see that we figured out we had to rotate the mirrors and they rotate not just for fun. But 50 percent of what you don’t see is because I can angle the mirrors or I’m hiding camera teams behind mirrors. So it took literally 3 months to figure out and at the same time I have to build the set. The first budget came back at about one point two million to build that set so we had to shrink it down and shrink it down figure out and like that’s why it’s not real glass in every shot. Sometimes it’s lanothane its a reflective material. So when you shoot it it doesn’t shatter which is another handy thing to know. So we get it down to about 700,000 and that’s just to build the thing. But you can’t build it all in one day. You build a small section of it. You test it going. I think this is going to work. Then they build another piece or you have to tear it down and rebuild it. As you go. And then now you’re in there. Now where do I hide a 50 person crew. Five stunt guys and still get my cameraman. Okay well that goes to VFX you know the original budget came back. Well it’s going to be 800 to a million dollars to remove everything. And you’re like whoa hey that’s. So much. So you’ve got to figure out OK well screw it we’ll have to figure out how to do it practically. And then it’s back to the with the stunt guys and little mirrors on your iPhone. Figuring well if the mirror moves if I do this I put the camera guy low and shoot Keanu up high. So it’s just a lot of rolling up your sleeves and figuring it out and knowing what you spent. While still trying to look cool. That’s why we put mirrors on the ceiling trying to be inventive otherwise that could be got really boring too.

Chad Stahelski might now be sitting in the director’s chair. But when it comes to his action scenes he just can’t seem to let go.

I’m one of the choreographers. There are two or three other stunt guys that have become directors who they weren’t choreographers and they kind of let other people do stunts. I am again an incredible egotistical control freak. Most of the choreography you see is something I’ve either performed or put together. I still coach I still teach martial arts to to stunt people. Pretty much every morning. It’s what I enjoy it’s what I do. I have a facility by LAX that we train some of the best stunt guys around I’m probably better at that than I am at directing to tell you the truth. So I kind of stay involved because it. That helps me create. If that makes any sense to you you know when I choreograph I’m trying to picture what the character. Any any good action sequences has moments. Like. You guys have all seen the first Matrix. You probably can’t tell me three kung fu moves. Okay spitting hook kick but you could tell me Carrie-Anne walking on the wall and doing the eagle thing you can tell me. Keanu leaning back in the bullet time right. You can give me moments you give me the spoon bending. So I try to stay in it because that gives me the moments it’s like Keanu going ah or looking like you know the pencil was an actual joke because I got so frustrated at the first stunt guys in the first John Wick cause he wouldn’t I stabbed the guy with a pencil. Wake up. And I was like that’d be cool. Stab a guy in the ear with a pencil. And it was just like seriously. Moments of genius come that way sometimes. So I enjoy it. It’s something I think and again to my point I want to live by example. You know I go wardrobe shopping. I love shopping for I love going shopping I’ve got the best wardrobe supervisor ever. He’s got me into the world of fashion and just understanding what that is. That’s a big part of John Wick like those suits didn’t just didn’t get invented we tailored those. And we went to Italy we went to France we went to Milan just to see what the new styles were and then took what we wanted out of that. I don’t see stunts any different than lighting I’m a huge lighting freak composition or wardrobe. It’s just another department that you have to be vested in.

So what advice does a successful martial arts expert stunt man fight coordinator and director give for launching a career well don’t just do your job do your homework too.

Again the industry is always changing. Like you guys probably know more about what it’s like or whatever they’re teaching hopefully than I did in the day. It’s whatever you do if you want to make movies. You guys have this rare technological advantage that we didn’t have. Like right now. Any one of you can pick up an iPhone and go make a movie like there’s no like you can edit that you can learn to edit you can learn simple concepts of editing right now you can learn simple concepts of music design like you can what sound forge. I don’t know what iTunes you guys can do that you make a movie on your iPhone which is we had to go out and save every penny we could to get this big VHS camera and then do VCR to VCR you guys know what a VCR is. OK VCR to VCR. Good thing to know for you guys too is part of it is like just know what people make that helps you like. Never underestimate the power of controlling the money. OK it’s not like that should be your only job but you should know what things cost. You should know what people cost you know what time costs you know what cameras cost it helps a stunt guy right now is about 800 bucks a day for the first eight hours then he goes in overtime unless you’re on a weekly then he’s about 36 37 hundred dollars. It’s not a bad job. OK. Just getting hit by cars or shot. It’s a good job. It’s easy to get in. Say you’re a 21 year old kid you just graduated you know. Now you’re making anywhere from three to five a week. It’s pretty you can live pretty well you can get a new car you get a nice apartment you get. You get suckered into that easy life and you don’t do your homework. Like you still got to look through those lenses you still got to find out what a Gaffer does you still got to learn about light ing you still gotta. You know I’m a avid photographer I live and breathe with a lens. That’s what I do all day long wherever I go. I live and breathe with a lot of writers right now just because I want to hear stories I want to hear how people tell stories. If you’re willing to do the work and be a storyteller yes obviously make monie be on set. Do your thing. And at the same time learn how to tell like you can go both in parallel. You don’t have to do one then the other. You know be the stunt guy you know you’re young you want to get hit by cars you want to do fight scenes you want to to live the life and be Hooper right on the same time right now you never know you could talk to the right person. You do that little short film and bang you’re in. So the answer is yeah man go for it. Don’t land on your head though that’s bad.

We want to thank Chad Stahelski for all the blood sweat and tears he’s shed to make so many memorable films. John Wick Chapter 3 can not come soon enough. This episode was based on the Q&A moderated by Tova Laiter and myself. To watch the full interview or to see our other Q&As check out our youtube channel youtube.com/newyorkfilmacademy. This episode was written by me. Eric Conner. Edited and mixed by Kristian Hayden our creative director is David Andrew Nelson who also produced this episode with Kristian Hayden and myself executive produced by Tova Laiter Jean Sherlock and Dan Mackler. A special thanks to our events department Sajja Johnson and the staff and crew who made this possible. To learn more about our programs check us out at NYFA.edu Be sure to subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen.

See you next time.

New York Film Academy
New York Film Academy film and acting school offers the best hands-on degrees, accelerated courses, and intensive workshops. Call +1 (212) 674-4300 for more info.
New York Film Academy