February 9, 2017

Why It Is Time For Stunt Crew To Get Recognition By The Oscars!

Movie stunts are, you could say, some of the most jaw dropping highlights of many different kinds of movies, whether they are globally established or relatively unknown with smaller budgets developed by a group of passionate folk intent on seeing their vision on screen. Many remember the famous corkscrew jump sequence in the James Bond movie The Man With The Golden Gun. Or what about the coach jumping over the major bridge gap in the Keanu Reeves 1994 flick, Speed. Further, what about the burning sequence in the 50’s horror film The Thing From Another World in which a stuntman was entirely engulfed in flames!

The history of movie stunts can be traced back to the year 1903 when Frank Hanaway played a useful part in having the ability to fall off a horse in the movie The Great Train Robbery. That set the ground work for movies to come, which have seen stunt crew perform death defying moves that have become one of, if not a main selling point of many movies. Theatrical trailers often display some of the biggest stunts from a picture, although that executive move has often come under scrutiny as to whether they spoil a film’s biggest and most exciting sequences.

Jack Gill performing one of many jump sequences during Knight Rider’s 4 year run.

But there is more to stunts than just the stunt performers risking their lives to achieve something visually spectacular. Hours, even days, are spent preparing to make sure that stunts turn out safe for the willing participant, which are often looked over by what is called a stunt coordinator. These people have often been stunt performers themselves, many of which still have thriving careers. They overlook the stunt to make sure everything runs smoothly and generally supervise the process from start to finish.

Unfortunately, even the best in the business have ran into major problems! In the 1980’s television show Dukes of Hazzard, Rodney Mitchell was killed when a camera truck crashed while filming a chase scene. In the Tom Cruise film Top Gun, Art Scholl crashed a camera plane and neither his body or the plane have ever been found. Jackie Chan has reportedly broken every bone in his body during the run of his career, performing his own stunts. Even the 007 movie franchise does not have a clean stunt history! In 1981’s For Your Eyes Only, a member of stunt crew was killed during the action filled bobsleigh sequence when he was pinned under a bobsled, losing his life.

While the yearly Oscars ceremony celebrates and rewards actors and other categories of film crew for their hard work developing motion pictures, the million dollar questions is why are stunt crew not rewarded for putting their lives on the line? It is true that there are a select number of actors that are willing to perform their own stunts. However, there are many more that do not and are made to look good on screen by somebody filling in for them during the most dangerous moments of a picture.

Long time stuntman, Jack Gill has campaigned for 26 years for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to start including categories for stunt crew. Gill has performed in movies such as the Fast and the Furious sequels and is known for driving the famous black trans-am, KITT, up ramps to give the illusion of the “turbo boost” in the 1980’s tv show, Knight Rider. His campaigning efforts are still ongoing as the Academy continues to deny them their much deserved gold trophies and respect.

Gill said to NBC4 I-Team, “We work very hard on these movies. We give our life and soul to them.”
That is a statement that is difficult to disagree with! Filmmaking is considered an art to those that are not in the industry solely to make a buck. And stunts are a dangerous facet of that art!

However, it is known that at least some actors are on their side! Johnny Depp and Vin Diesel have made the Academy aware, too, but they have declined to comment on the issue as of time of writing this feature. Why? We know the ceremony runs on average a little over three hours, with the longest ever recorded clocking in at 4 hours and 20 minutes. Could it be a simple issue of timing? Who knows!

Jack Gill (middle) seen with David Hasselhoff on the set of Knight Rider. The experienced stunt performer has persisted for stunt performers to gain more recognition for their dangerous work!


What is certain, is that for many decades stunt performers deserve to have their voice heard, as well as an appreciation for what they do because all their hard and physical work is simply not given enough credit or attention! It is about time that the Oscars take the time to give the structure of their ceremony a slight modification to allow for a couple of extra categories that will garner much admiration by everybody involved, and even those who are not. \

If you support this cause then feel free to sign the petition here to add your voice to the likes of Jack Gill who continue to fight for their right to get noticed!


About the Author

Lee Skavydis
Lee Skavydis
I am a die hard movie fan, owning over 500 movies on both DVD and Blu Ray. I try to go to the cinema at least once a week when time permits. My other hobbies include following fight sports such as boxing, travelling around, writing and editing, listening to heavy rock and cook the odd occasional recipe. I used to write for several prolific boxing websites, interviewing some of the most famous names associated with the sport around.


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