Most stunt performers work on a freelance basis, contracting with individual productions on a project-by-project basis. Stunt performers working on TV projects may have long-term commitments if serving as a stand-in for a regular character. Some stunt performers also work in other aspects of the entertainment industry, taking jobs with theme parks, and live stage shows and events.
Most stunt performers enter the field by contacting stunt coordinators and asking for work. Coordinators and stunt associations can be located in trade publications. To be of interest to coordinators, stunt performers promote any special skills they have, such as stunt driving, skiing, and diving. Many stunt performers also have agents who locate work for them, but an agent can be very difficult to get without stunt experience. If you live in New York or Los Angeles, volunteer to work as an intern for an action film; you may have the chance to meet some of the stunt performers and make connections with crew members and other industry professionals. If you attend a stunt school, you may develop important contacts in the field.
New stunt performers generally start with simple roles, such as being one of 40 people in a brawl scene. With greater experience and training, stunt performers can get more complicated roles. Some stunt associations have facilities where stunt performers work out and practice their skills. Stunt performers with a great deal of experience may be invited to join a professional association such as the Stuntmen's Association of Motion Pictures, which gives them opportunities to network with others in the industry.
About five to 10 years of experience is usually necessary to become a stunt coordinator. Some stunt coordinators eventually work as a director of action scenes.
Tips for Entry
Try to get as much acting experience as possible—whether in school or community productions or as a film or television extra.
Work hard to improve your physical endurance, strength, flexibility, and overall health. Since work as a stunt performer is very demanding, you will need to be in top shape to land jobs.
Apply for a job as a production assistant. Once on the job, network with casting directors, producers, directors, stunt coordinators, and others to let them know you are interested in working as a stunt performer.
Attend stunt school and try to obtain job leads with the assistance of instructors and fellow students.
Look for jobs and/or market your services at Mandy.com. Other useful sites includes Infolist.com and EntertainmentCareers.net.