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Stunt performer

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Summary of occupation

Stunt performers are involved in the performance of stunts for television, film and other productions. They study scripts, plans and other detailed documents to work out the best way to undertake a stunt, rehearse stunts with safety gear, and perform stunts in front of cameras or audiences. They may take the place of actors in dangerous filming situations, or scenes that require specialised skills such as fighting, falling or jumping. They liaise with stunt co-ordinators and attend training to learn how to perform new stunts, and work with directors, producers and other film crew to ensure that their stunts are performed and recorded according to the requirements of the script and to strict safety standards.

ANZSCO description: Stunt performers are involved in the  performance of stunts for television, film and other productions.
Alternative names: Stuntperson
Specialisations: Safety Consultant, Safety Supervisor, Stunt Action Person, Stunt Actor, Stunt Co-ordinator
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A stunt performer needs:

  • physical fitness, strength and stamina
  • quick reflexes, strong eyesight and flexibility
  • dedication to safety
  • good communication skills
  • the ability to follow instructions well
  • a willingness to put themselves in dangerous situations
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Working conditions

Stunt performers work in film and television studios and on-location on film sets. They work in a range of climatic conditions, including extreme heat and cold. They may be required to work in wet conditions, or to work in or around areas rigged with explosives or other hazardous materials. They may be required to work at heights, sometimes without safety harnesses. They may work long hours depending on the requirements of a shoot, and may be required to travel long distances to get to the set.

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Salary details

Earnings for stunt performers can vary considerably depending on their level of experience, their negotiated contract, the type of production  they work on, and the demand for their work. As a stunt performer develops their skills and reputation, their earning potential will generally increase.

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) are responsible for setting the minimum award wages for performers in entertainment productions. Check the MEAA website for the rates for stunt performers as pertains to different production types, and daily and per episode award rates.

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Tools and technologies

Stunt performers work with stunt equipment such as flying harnesses, air-rams, airbags and stunt rigging. They often wear protective equipment such as back protectors, knee and elbow guards and rehearsal pads, and are also often required to wear make-up and other costuming. They may use props such as weapons, and may also drive stunt cars and other vehicles.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as a stunt performer without formal qualifications. However, all stunt performers must be graded by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance in the following five areas: body control, heights, vehicles, animals (driving or riding) and water. It is compulsory to display competency in the body control category.

In order to work as a stunt performer (Stunt Actor Provisional (SAP) or Performer Grade 1) you must display competency in four out of the five above categories.

Applications to become a licensed stunt performer need to be submitted to the MEAA's National Stunt Committee. Applications are approved on the basis of the quality and type of stunt or training that has been carried out by the applicant, their qualifications and achievements, their attitude towards working in the stunt industry, their ability to communicate effectively, both verbally and in written materials, the individual's aptitude and potential for work in the industry, and any written recommendations or references.

Stunt performers often start as assistants before taking on higher-risk stunt work. Once they have become established as a stunt performer they may move into the position of stunt coordinator or safety supervisor.

You will also need to hold a current Provide First Aid Certificate.

Contact the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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