A sleek, black car skids along at breakneck speed, its driver clearly losing control. The vehicle veers perilously towards a metres-tall fence. There’s no stopping it; a collision with the sturdy steel posts, topped with barbed wire, is inevitable. But, behold! The driver’s muscled arm emerges from the car window. As the car’s shining bonnet edges ever-closer to the fence, almost tightening in anticipation, our hero pulls his body upwards. With impressive calmness, he pushes his weight away from the vehicle, landing on the asphalted ground to roll, his body neatly compacted, to a halt. The car continues ahead, crashing only seconds later into the fence, and promptly bursting into angry red flames.

The life of a stunt performer is nothing if not exciting – adrenaline and movie stars must make for an intoxicating combination.

Few of us would grow up hoping to spend our working life engaging in potentially dangerous, draining, and unstable work. But for some, the benefits of stunt work outweigh any risks.

The stunt industry, just like any other, does have its disadvantages. The pay can be high – depending on the extent of danger that any given stunt entails – but also irregular. As computer technology continues to become more sophisticated, it is possible that demand for stunt performers will shrink.stunt-performer-jump

Countering these difficulties, though, is the niche that the Australian film industry has carved out. Over the last decade or so, Sydney has become something of a Mecca for films requiring complex action sequences. Fox Studios is a world-class production facility, and a lot of high-profile action films are produced in Australia – Mission: Impossible II, Star Wars, Wolverine, Independence Day, and The Matrix – to name just a few.

Anyone hoping to become a stunt performer should be prepared for a rather complicated route. If you’re not born into the industry, your best bet for gaining the experience and skills you’ll need is to attend an American stunt school. Otherwise, engaging in some high-level sports could be beneficial, with sporting achievements and qualifications potentially earmarking you for employment. Time spent on a movie set as a extra could help, too.

If you manage to break into the industry, international travel could follow – a very exciting prospect. The possibility of going to shoot in foreign locations means that travel insurance is a must, as you move up the ranks of the industry to become a go-to expert, and ultimately a coordinator or manager.

Contrary to popular belief, in the majority of cases stunt performance occur without major harm. Of course, bruises, knocks, and the occasional broken bone are to be expected. But cheap health insurance in Australia can ensure that these sorts of basic injuries are covered. Should the unlikely occur, and a stunt person is seriously incapacitated, policies from the likes of HIF will provide appropriate compensation.

More than anything else, stunt work is attractive because of the pure exhilaration it offers. The thrill of a narrow escape – either real or simulated – surely proves somewhat addictive for workers in the industry. It’s what keeps them coming back, keen to push their mental and physical limits to the precipice.

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