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Stunt performer

Stunt performers stand in for actors when the script calls for anything dangerous or specialised to be done on a film or TV set.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: Variable average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need to be at least 18 years old, and have excellent physical fitness and a commitment to staying very fit.

You’ll also need membership of the Joint Industry Stunt Committee (JISC) Register of Stunt Performers and Coordinators.

This shows employers that you’re JISC qualified, recognised as a professional stunt performer and can perform hazardous or specialist stunt work.

To get onto the JISC register, you’ll need to show you’ve qualifications and skills to the required standard across at least 6 different sporting areas across the following groups:

  • fighting – martial arts or boxing
  • falling – trampolining or high diving
  • riding and driving – horse riding, driving cars or riding motorcycles
  • agility and strength – gymnastics or rock climbing
  • water – swimming or sub-aqua

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • ability in several sports and outdoor pursuits
  • good communication and 'people' skills
  • quick reactions and calmness under pressure
  • a willingness to work in dangerous situations
  • a high degree of responsibility and health and safety awareness
  • good planning skills and attention to detail
  • some acting skills (although formal experience isn’t essential)

3. What you'll do

You’ll use highly-developed physical and sporting skills to make them look natural and part of the action, like:

  • gymnastics or high diving, for performing all types of falls
  • fighting skills, possibly with weapons
  • swimming or diving
  • horse riding
  • advanced driving techniques, for performing car chases and crashes
You’ll set up, plan and perform stunts, usually whilst being supervised by  a stunt coordinator. 

Health and safety is very important as the work can be dangerous. You’d need to carry out a full risk assessment and complete detailed paperwork before you performed each stunt.

4. Salary

Most stunt performers are self-employed, and paid a fee for each job.

Equity, the UK trade union for professional performers and creative practitioners, recommends minimum daily and weekly rates for stunt performers.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

Working hours can be irregular and unsocial, depending on filming schedules. Days on set can be very long, although you may spend a lot of that time planning and setting up stunts, and waiting between scenes.

You’ll work in studios or outside locations. Some stunts may need you to spend a long time in uncomfortable conditions.

You’ll wear protective clothing, harnesses or helmets for some stunts.

You could travel to studios and locations all over the UK and abroad, and you may spend long periods away from home.

You’ll usually be self-employed and work on short-term contracts for each production. You may need to do other work to earn a living when you’re not performing.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could become a stunt arranger or coordinator.

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Last updated: 11 April 2017