Author Topic: Low risk, high thrills for Team Stunt Predators  (Read 1110 times)

BrianDzyak

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Low risk, high thrills for Team Stunt Predators
« on: April 26, 2015, 02:39:40 PM »
http://morningjournal.com/articles/2011/08/29/entertainment/mj4954348.txt?viewmode=fullstory

Quote
By MARK MESZOROS
Recently, Richard Fike and his team had to drive to downtown Cleveland for work — where they were beaten up, tossed around and nearly blown up.

And it was all just another day at the “office,” as far as they’re concerned.

Fike, who owns Madison (Ohio) Combined Martial Arts on Main Street, also is the leader of Team Stunt Predators, a group of stunt men, women and even youth — typically students he’s worked with at his dojo — available for hire for film work — which has been pretty steady in recent months, thanks to some serious, huge film productions being shot in this region .

But Fike’s company is a serious company as well.

“The big thing is, we’re not daredevils,” Fike said. “Daredevils are risk takers. They do it for the thrill and the attention. They don’t care if they get hurt or someone else gets hurt.

“Stunt professionals are individuals who are professionally trained, who take calculated risks. The goal is to get the shot for the director.”

Most recently, the director was Joss Whedon, the creator of TV series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Firefly,” and the shots were for “The Avengers,” the big-budget movie about the Marvel Comics superheroes that’s been filming downtown.

Fike said when he heard a big chunk of the “Avengers” would be shot in Cleveland, he sent the stunt coordinator a book with his entire Team Stunt Predators roster, about 35 people.

“I try to sell the whole team,” he said.

However, they hired four: Tommy Quinn, of Melbourne, Fla., who’s from Ashtabula: John Sundquist, of Ashtabula; Todd Emmett, of Geneva; and Fike himself.

“A lot of it was looks,” said Fike. He joked that the production was interested in taller guys, and he’s not sure how he was included based on that criteria.

Team members have been included in myriad productions since forming in 1986, mainly in Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania and, of course, Ohio. And they’ve earned a tremendous reputation, Fike said.

“The word travels very fast,” he said. “(Filmmakers) don’t want to work with you if you’re a risk.”

Safety is key, he said. Injuries slow down a shoot, and that means added costs. Fike takes pride in them having been called “the one-take team,” meaning that his guys can do it right in one try. He acknowledges, though, that a director typically wants at least two takes to be safe.

For the “Avengers” production, just as with the shoot for fellow Marvel production “Spider-Man 3” a few years ago, a portion of downtown Cleveland is standing in for New York City. Two weeks ago, Fike and his guys took on a variety of tasks, mainly playing NYC cops early on.

“The first day, we were driving patrol cars — precision driving — coming up and stopping to where they wanted,” said Emmett, a Geneva police officer.

“We were responding to an alien invasion,” Fike said.

“As we got out (of patrol cars),” Emmett said, “the aliens were coming out from the top of the buildings and we were shooting up at them.

“I think I got two or three,” he said with a laugh.

At other times, they were pedestrians. Fike said he traded in the police uniform for a pin-striped suit for one scene.

Fike said there are basically two types of stunt person: The doubles the main cast members get, who travel with the production wherever it goes: and nondesignated — or utility — professionals hired for a certain location and basically asked to do whatever’s needed at the time. On “The Avengers,” he and his men were the latter.

“We are the workhorse of stunts,” he said, adding that 12-hour days are typical.

And, as members of the Screen Actors Guild, they all can serve as actors, which they did.

“Instead of paying an actor to play a cop and hiring a stuntman to double him, they just hire a stuntman,” he said.

“Out of 120,000 SAG members, only 7,000 are SAG stunts,” he added. “It’s easier to become an actor on screen than a stuntman.

“It’s very unique. They use us for everything.”

Fike and his guys have been even more of use to Hollywood of late, thanks to Ohio’s tax-relief-based efforts to bring more productions to the state.

Along with “The Avengers,” Team Stunt Predators has taken part in filmings of, among others, “Fun Size,” a Halloween comedy starring Victoria Justice, Johnny Knoxville and Chelsea Handler; and “Boot Tracks,” a thriller starring Michelle Monaghan and Willem Dafoe.

Not surprisingly, the guys love when they can work in Northeast Ohio.

“Obviously, it means that we get to stay home,” Fike said. “We can work more because we don’t have to travel so far.”

Of course, the stunt work means extra cash for the guys, but the benefits go beyond that.

“It’s part of expanding our martial arts training in a way,” said Quinn. “We all grew up watching Bruce Lee, so you think, ‘This is kind of cool.’”

It’s just fun,” said team member Tom Dziak of Madison, who wasn’t on “The Avengers” job but was hired as Knoxville’s double on “Fun Size.” “It brings out the kid in all of us.”

Few productions are like “The Avengers,” which will bring together Marvel heroes Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).

According to Fike, the movie boasts a $300 million budget. If the guys couldn’t tell they were on a pricey production based on the explosions and pieces of phony buildings falling around them during the shoot, it could be the fact that each had his own trailer.

“When it’s all said and done, it will be marketed as the biggest action adventure to date,” he said. “For us to be part of that was an honor and thrilling.”

Online: www.stuntpredatorsusa.com