There are many paths to becoming a stunt car driver. While many individuals started as race car drivers, it is not necessary. As long as you have quickly tuned reflexes, have undergone the necessary training, and possess perseverance and determination anyone can become a stunt car driver. Take Olivia Summers for example. She started out racing jet skies and snowmobiles before becoming a stunt car driver.
As previously mentioned there are many avenues to becoming a stunt driver, but there are some core essentials that anyone looking to break into the field must understand. First, let’s start with expectations. What can you realistically expect? Then we will look at the personal and technical qualities required, as well as how to acquire the necessary skills.
Stunt driving is a fun job, that allows you to work in an interesting environment, around famous people. That being said, it is very difficult to break into. This is due simply to the large amount of people looking for jobs in the field. Females may have a marginally easier time finding work, as there fewer women stunt drivers than men. Productions often need females in the vehicles.
Pay is usually low at first, just like with actors in the movie industry, the first couple of jobs are usually more about exposure than making a livable wage. With time and dedication that will change.
Personal Traits Required:
As stated above, dedication is a must. In the beginning, there will be many difficult periods trying to break into the industry, and only perseverance will get you through.
Another aspect that people don’t often consider is that you can be hired based on how you look, not just your technical proficiency as a stunt driver. This is because they want people who look close enough to the actors playing the roles as possible. Consider this when applying for jobs, a bit of tact can help you save a lot of time.
Technical Skills Required:
It goes without saying, to be a stunt driver you need to know how to perform stunts. The most common techniques required are: Driving on two wheels, or ‘skiing’, J-Turns, Handbrake Turns, Drifting, and Barrel Rolls.
These techniques require a great deal of practice and precision to perform. Several schools exist which allow you to learn from experienced professionals, as well as give you access to cars to flip and a place to do it!
Breaking Into the Industry:
Simply put, if no one knows are available for stunt driving work you will not be getting any.
The film industry is one built just as much on networking as skill and talent. For this reason, it is crucial to any prospective stunt driver to seek out contacts and get their name out there. The first step would be joining the Professional Driving Association, PDA, which gives you access to an industry job board.
Another good technique is taking on stunt driving jobs on film sets. These jobs are more or less transportation work. Moving people, props, equipment, and anything else around the set. This could be a good way to make contacts and network your way into a stunt driving job.