Stunt performers work in the film and television industry, standing in for actors in dangerous, specialised or physically difficult scenes. They need excellent stunt skills to make it look easy.
You could be:
discussing with the director and other members of the production team how to create a stunt that is both safe and realistic
planning how you will do the stunt, getting the equipment and carrying out a risk assessment signed by the stunt co-ordinator
adapting your movements and posture to match the age, fitness and demeanour of the actor you replace
performing the stunt at least once before the cameras under the supervision of a stunt action co-ordinator — you may have to do retakes
following strict choreography, for example in fight scenes
specialising in one or more particular skill including martial arts, boxing, fencing, trampolining, gymnastics, swimming, high diving, horse riding and driving
keeping up your skills and fitness with regular practice between jobs.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of the company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Stunt performers are usually freelance, working on a production on a contract basis. Fees depend on the type of production and are usually higher for feature films than for television, therefore pay is variable.
The Equity website lists the latest recommended minimum rates of pay, for which you now need to be a member to access.
As a rough guideline, in 2021 the Pact Equity TV Agreement recommended a minimum daily fee of £464.00 and a minimum weekly fee of £1,855.50.
The work is highly dangerous, with stunt performers routinely facing the risk of serious injury or death.
You work long and irregular hours, including late nights and early mornings — sometimes up to 18 hours a day.
Like actors, you have to go to make-up, hairdressing and costume fittings before filming starts.
You work in studios indoors or outdoors.
Most of the work is on location on film or TV sets and you will spend time away from home, sometimes working abroad.
You repeatedly face extreme physical challenges (for example, you may have to jump out of high buildings, be set on fire, stay in water or be underground for long periods).
You have to wait around a lot while shots are set up.
Stunt performers often have to wear protective gear, such as fire suits or harnesses.
You do not need formal qualifications, though it is usual to have some experience of working on a TV or film set as an extra or walk-on actor.
To get work you should work towards full membership of the British Stunt Register (formerly formerly known as the Joint Industry Stunt Committee (JISC) stunt register). This is the only approved list of UK based artists qualified to do dangerous stunt work in film and TV.
The British Stunt Register (BSR) now has a grading scheme with 5 categories of membership: Probationary Stunt Performer, Stunt Performer, Senior Stunt Performer, Key Stunt Performer, and Full Member (Co-ordinator). To gain full accreditation you must have gained experience in all of the other grades of the Register and study for a BSR Level 4 Health and Safety course and take periodic refresher courses.
To be accepted as a Probationary Member, you must have experience of working in front of camera and be working only under the supervision of a BSR Stunt/Action Co-ordinator.
You should also demonstrate high skill in 6 sports across the following groups: Fighting, Falling, Driving vehicles, Riding/working with animals, Water, and Fire. One of the skill categories must be from the Fighting group. The full requirements are on the The British Stunt Register website.
You need good acting skills to work as a stunt double as you have to copy an actor’s mannerisms and movements.
The British Stunt Register (formerly the Joint Industry Stunt Committee, or JISC) provides a recognised career path for stunt professionals administered through The Stunt Grading Scheme. It gives stunt performers an industry recognised qualification process and the opportunity to start their career as a stunt performer.
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