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A Guide to Filming with Qualified Stunt Performers

Do you need a stunt performer in your film but don't know where to look? Or are you unsure of the legal boundaries and insurance issues? Here's a guide to filming with stunt performers to push you in the right direction. It's even useful to those looking to get signed up as stunt performers in the UK.

Where to start looking?

The Joint Industry Stunt Committee Register (hereinafter called the Stunt Register) is generally recognised as the definitive directory of all stunt co-ordinators and performers in the UK available for cinema film and television including commercials.

The register is the only industry-wide approved body of recognised artists qualified to undertake work of a dangerous or hazardous nature in film and television involving stunt work. It also forms the basis of the BBC's Approved Contractors List for Stunt Performers and Co-ordinators.

The Stunt Register has been in existence since 1973, but was first conceived in 1966, and is divided into three categories of membership:

  • Probationary
  • Intermediate and
  • Full

Each of these categories is strictly controlled.

How do people join the Stunt Register?

  • In order to join the Register as a Probationary member, a performer must provide evidence of qualifications to a required standard in six or more categories, at least one of which must be within the 'Fighting' Group.
  • Categories must fall within at least four groups and no more than two categories may fall within any one group.

Full details of the procedure for application are contained in the 'Rules of the Stunt Register', which is available from trade union Equity. Set out below are the groups of activity in which performers may qualify for probationary membership ? details of the level/standard required are mentioned in the rules section of the register.

What are the different qualifications stunt performers can provide?

The stunt performers listed on the register are divided in various groups.

Group A - Fighting - please note only one martial art is acceptable

  • Judo
  • Aikido
  • Wrestling
  • Other martial art
  • Boxing

Group B - Falling

  • Trampolining
  • High diving

Group C - Riding and Driving

  • Horse riding
  • Cars
  • Motorcycles

Group D - Agility and Strength

  • Gymnastics
  • Rock climbing

Group E - Water

  • Swimming
  • Sub aqua

Group F - Miscellaneous

  • Exceptional talent/skill eg. an Olympic or National champion

Please note: only one miscellaneous is acceptable.

Successful applicants become probationary members of the Register and are required to serve a probationary period of not less than three years from the date of acceptance onto the Stunt Register

What can stunt performers do who have a Probationary Membership?

  • Probationary members of the Register may work only as stunt performers under the supervision of a full member of the Register.
  • They may work neither on their own nor with other probationary or intermediate members except where there is supervision by a full member.

What can stunt performers do who have an Intermediate Membership?

  • Intermediate members are those members who have successfully completed the probationary period, but who are not full members.
  • They may work on their own without supervision but may not act as a co-ordinator for any other stunt performers with whom they may be working or for an actor with whom they may be working.
  • They may therefore work on their own where they are the only person involved in the stunt.

What does a Full Membership mean?

  • Full members of the Register are those members who have completed both the probationary and intermediary stages of the register and who are considered as experienced stunt performers who may act as stunt co-ordinators.

How is the question of insurance dealt with?

All members of Equity, by virtue of their membership of Equity and of the Register, are - in the event of their suffering personal injuries, automatically personally insured to a level of, minimum £125.00, maximum £1000.00 per week in the event of temporary disability for a maximum of 52 weeks, and to £100,000.00 in the event of death or permanent disability. Individual members of the Register may carry insurance in excess of this level.

Many thanks to Christine Blake for her assistance in compiling this section.

You can contact Christine on:

Tel 020 7670 0248
Email [email protected]