How to Become a Stunt Driver

Stunt driving is a whirlwind of adrenaline, precision, and excitement. Suppose the idea of pulling off daring vehicular feats, thrilling moviegoers, and contributing to iconic moments in film and television captivates you. In that case, you may have what it takes to become a stunt driver. It’s a unique career path, one that’s paved with equal parts thrill and challenge. This post will detail how to become a stunt driver and what the role entails.

Understanding the Role of Stunt Drivers

At the core, a stunt driver’s role revolves around performing intricate driving maneuvers that are too risky or challenging for regular actors. Their work has propelled the action sequences in numerous movies and TV shows to new heights. Here are a few noteworthy examples:

  • The classic chase scene in “Bullitt,” with Steve McQueen, showcased impressive stunt driving, establishing a new benchmark for car chases in cinema.
  • The “Fast and Furious” franchise has consistently wowed audiences with its high-octane driving sequences, each more daring than the last.
  • The quirky and entertaining “Baby Driver” integrated music and stunt driving to create a cinematic experience like no other.
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” is a symphony of relentless, post-apocalyptic vehicular chaos, largely thanks to the daring work of its stunt drivers.

The Exciting World of Professional Stunt Drivers

how to become a stunt driver

Becoming a stunt driver transports you to a world where the norms of driving are routinely pushed to the limit. Unlike regular driving jobs, stunt driving calls for extraordinary precision, courage, and an ability to perform under pressure. Be it executing high-speed chases, perfecting tight corner drifts, or flipping a car on cue, the challenges and rewards are all part of the job’s thrilling appeal.

Necessary Skills for Becoming a Professional Stunt Driver

Driving SkillsExpertise in different driving techniques and deep understanding of various vehicle types.
CreativityThe ability to envision and execute innovative stunts that keep audiences engaged.
DisciplineAdherence to strict safety protocols to minimize risks during stunt performances.
CommunicationEffective interaction with directors, coordinators, and other team members on the set.
Problem-SolvingQuick thinking and the ability to address unexpected challenges on the go.

Becoming a successful stunt driver requires an array of skills that extend beyond expert driving. Let’s put a spotlight on a few:

  1. Driving Skills: Proficiency in different driving techniques and an intimate understanding of various vehicle types is paramount.
  2. Creativity: Stunt drivers must be able to envision and execute innovative and engaging stunts that captivate audiences.
  3. Discipline: The ability to follow stringent safety protocols is crucial to minimizing risks.
  4. Communication Skills: A stunt driver must communicate effectively with directors, coordinators, and other team members.
  5. Problem-Solving Skills: As unexpected challenges arise, quick thinking and problem-solving skills can make all the difference.

Advanced Driving Skills

how to become a stunt driver

A stunt driver’s skill set extends far beyond that of a typical driver. They must master advanced driving techniques such as high-speed precision driving, J-turns, sliding, drifting, and executing timed skids. Every action-packed movie car chase you’ve enjoyed made possible by a stunt driver demonstrating these advanced skills behind the wheel.

Physical Fitness and Mental Alertness

how to become a stunt driver

Physical fitness and mental alertness are critical to a stunt driver’s ability to perform under intense pressure. Being physically fit enables stunt drivers to withstand better the physical demands of their role, including managing high G-forces and recovering from minor mishaps. Mental alertness, on the other hand, allows them to make split-second decisions, maintain focus during complex stunts, and react swiftly to unexpected situations. In the high-octane world of stunt driving, the body and mind must work in perfect harmony.

Educational Pathway to Become a Stunt Driver

Becoming a stunt driver isn’t something you just stumble into – it takes careful planning and dedicated preparation. Here are the key steps you need to take:

Obtain a Regular Driver’s License

how to become a stunt driver

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s a vital first step. Before you can perform daring feats in a vehicle, you need to master the basics. Get your driver’s license and spend time gaining confidence on the road.

Enroll in a Reputable Stunt Driving School

how to become a stunt driver

Look for a stunt driving school that offers hands-on training and covers a wide range of driving techniques. You’ll learn crucial skills, from executing precise maneuvers at high speeds to controlling a car during an intentional spin or slide.

Gain Experience in Precision Driving

how to become a stunt driver

Before you can leap into the world of stunt driving, honing your skills in precision driving is a must. This might involve motorsports or advanced driving courses, where you can learn skills like executing tight turns and navigating obstacles at high speeds.

Gain Stunt Driving Experience

how to become a stunt driver

With a solid foundation in precision driving, you’re ready to transition into stunt driving. This could involve working in smaller productions, practicing stunts in a safe environment, or assisting experienced stunt drivers.

How to Launch Your Professional Stunt Driving Career

Ready to launch your career in stunt driving? Here are some key steps to help you on your journey:

Build a Stunt Performer Portfolio

how to become a stunt driver

Your portfolio is your ticket to catching the eye of industry professionals. Include videos of your stunts, certifications from reputable schools, and testimonials from professionals you’ve worked with. Showcasing a wide range of skills and experiences will help you stand out.

Networking in the Movie Industry and Stunt Community

how to become a stunt driver

Building relationships is crucial. Attend industry events, join online forums, and make connections wherever you can. You never know when a relationship might lead to an opportunity.

Auditioning for Stunt Performer Roles

how to become a stunt driver

When you feel ready, start applying for precision driving roles. This might be for commercials, TV shows, or films. Always arrive prepared, demonstrating professionalism and clearly understanding the stunts required.

Donut talked to some of the best drivers in the business, who have driven in movies like The Fast & Furious and Dukes of Hazzard, and this is what they had to say:

The Role of Stunt Coordinators in the Stunt Driving Industry

Behind every hair-raising stunt sequence, a maestro is orchestrating the action: the stunt coordinator. They play a pivotal role in the precision driving industry, choreographing high-octane scenes and ensuring the safety of the stunt team.

What is a Stunt Coordinator?

how to become a stunt driver

A stunt coordinator is a person who oversees the design, planning, and execution of stunt sequences in film and television production. Here are some key responsibilities:

  • Designing Stunt Sequences: They conceive, plan, and choreograph complex stunts, ensuring they align with the director’s vision.
  • Safety Protocols: Ensuring the safety of the stunt team is paramount. They establish safety measures and protocols, minimizing risks during stunts.
  • Coordinating Resources: From coordinating stunt performers to arranging the necessary equipment, the stunt coordinator manages all the resources required for a stunt.

How Stunt Coordinators Work with Stunt Professionals

how to become a stunt driver

Stunt coordinators and stunt drivers work closely to create breathtaking action sequences. For instance, during the US Rally Championship, the coordinator and drivers collaborate to design and execute the driving stunts, ensuring they’re thrilling yet safe. This harmonious relationship is pivotal to the success of any stunt sequence.

Importance of Building Relationships with Stunt Coordinators

how to become a stunt driver

In this industry, networking with stunt coordinators can unlock doors to new opportunities. Here are a few tips on fostering these professional relationships:

  • Professionalism: Always deliver your best work and maintain professionalism on set.
  • Communication: Effective communication with the coordinator can help foster trust and mutual respect.
  • Networking Events: Attend industry events to meet coordinators and other professionals in the field.
  • Continuous Learning: By continuously improving your skills, you demonstrate your dedication and passion to the coordinators.

FAQs: How to Become a Stunt Driver

How long does it take to become a stunt driver?

There isn’t a specific timeline as it varies based on individual skills and experiences. Generally, it involves obtaining a driver’s license, attending a stunt driving school, and gaining experience, which could take several years.

What qualifications do stunt performers need?

A stunt performer should have a valid driver’s license, training from a reputable precision driving school, and experience in precision and stunt driving. Some may also have backgrounds in martial arts, gymnastics, or other physical disciplines.

How much does a stunt car driver earn?

Professional stunt driver earnings vary widely based on factors like the complexity of vehicle stunts, experience level, and the size of the production. On average, stunt drivers can earn anywhere from $500 to $1000 per day, but top professionals in large-scale productions can earn considerably more.

What is the best way to find stunt driving schools?

Online search engines, industry forums, and professional networking are great ways to find reputable schools. Look for schools that offer comprehensive, hands-on training and prioritize safety.

Are stunt driver schools expensive?

Costs can vary based on the school and the length and depth of the program. Some schools might offer courses for a few hundred dollars, while comprehensive professional programs can run into the thousands. It’s an investment in your future career, so consider the value it provides, not just the cost.

Those who determine the time and/or financial commitment are too high may consider other driving-related businesses or careers. For example, you may learn how to become a truck driver or how to become a pilot car driver instead. These options provide reliable income and are often not as intensive.

Image: Depositphotos

Antony Maina Antony Maina is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 8 years. Antony covers business and technology and is also a successful freelance writer.