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..I fell into it, of course.
Let’s start with a dramatic teaser trailer.
..and that is what I do with some of my time!
If you were to tell me five years ago that I would be pursuing stunt performing, I would have probably laughed out loud. I considered myself an introvert for the majority of my life – you know, one of those kids who was too shy to ask anyone for anything.
That all began to change starting with the fateful day I decided to sign up for a Stage Combat 1 class in my second semester of grad school in Savannah, GA.
I remember specifically mentioning on the first day of class during introductions that I was by no means an actor, but an athlete who was attracted to the idea of combat and weaponry movement.
It was then the Society of American Fight Director’s certified Professor Martin Noyes confidently restated to the class that this was, indeed, an acting focused class that incorporated the technical skill sets of the latter.
I remember having instant anxiety. Stage fright, my friends, was indeed an extremely real thing for who I was at that time. Little did I know Professor Noyes was going to change my life. Forever.
When I get asked, “So, how did you get into stunt work?” and I respond with, “..I fell into it”, I’m only halfway being punny. I quite literally starting falling for the idea of stunt work on the first day of stage combat class when we learned the four basic fall maneuvers. Everything starts with safety in this performance world.
Lesson number one: learn how to fall without injuring yourself and make it look believable.
Oh, and let’s add a decent amount of vulnerability issues to that stage fright I mentioned before. That was certainly not the best combination for a performer to have, and believe you me, it made for the most comical and embarrassing-looking falls ever seen (Martin can attest to this still to this day).
Needless to say, I made it past the falling lessons (I literally left my ego on the floor) and finally gained some confidence when we moved onto unarmed and weapons-based combat techniques. My athleticism and kinesthetic awareness was earning me some brownie points as I studied and learned the parry systems for single sword and knife fighting.
*Side note: Koosh is life. If you don’t know why, you’re not in the club.*
I was feeling great about my technical abilities, but still struggled with producing vocal and believable reactions, i.e. letting go of my fears and insecurities.
Being a performer is hard when you aren’t naturally a performer. I was an athlete. I understood athletic performance. Being able to play a character backed with intentional, genuine action and reaction is much different.
I certainly learned about new aspects of myself that semester that I never imagined existed.
I put myself out there. And it was beyond scary, yet amazingly rewarding.
The most difficult lesson I learned and continued to practice mastering was to live in the moment. To be truly present.
In class, it applied to the mental effort required to remember choreography, to target effectively, to be aware of your surroundings at all time, and, most importantly, to keep your partner safe.
In life, it has taught me greater lessons. As I’ve started living more presently in the last few years, paying fully attention to the moments, I have had more satisfying connections with people and have been able to see/understand opportunities that came into my life.
Feeling tears well up in my eyes, I went to Professor Noyes on the last day of class and thanked him for teaching me things I didn’t know I needed to learn or what I thought I was capable of doing.
He embraced me, and offered to teach me other weapon sets/cool fighter stuff if I was interested because he saw potential.
I definitely started to cry.
Some past life awoke inside of me during that semester and I was determined to explore it.
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Let’s fast forward two years that had included wonderfully intense, action and tear-filled lessons and fight practice with the most talented, kind and patient combat teacher I’ve ever known. <Soon to be solo post>
I had now in my arsenal the weapon skill sets of: unarmed combat, single sword, knife, rapier and dagger, broadsword, sword and shield, quarterstaff, bullwhip (use and build), and knife and axe throwing.
Martin and I had also attended the National Stage Combat workshop as guests as well as other workshops as attendees.
Spring 2016 I became his assistant while he taught his Stage Combat 1 and 2 classes and loved every second of it. Spring 2017 I decided to attend a two week intensive stunt school in Atlanta, GA.
It was there I expanded my knowledge from choreographed fighting to high falls, car hits, wire work, air rams, fire burns, mini trampoline, parkour jumps, and more tumbling/ground falls.
Am I cool yet?
I made the decision to move to Atlanta from Savannah to pursue stunt work and design work (more of that in another post) in the entertainment industry and did so in early summer of 2017.
My time in the city since then, I have networked, trained with other stuntmen and women and had a few professional jobs. And it’s only fueled me for more.
It’s all about the hustle, my friends.
Soon I’ll write a day-in-the-life about keeping up with/kinds of training post, so stay tuned! In the meantime, keep tabs on all of the cool stuff I’m getting into here!