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.
Actors, dancers and performers, which include stunt performers, can expect to earn up to $1,143 per week, with an average weekly income of $732*.
*ABS Census (2006)
The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance is responsible for setting the minimum award wages for performers in entertainment productions. Check the MEAA website for further details of the rates for stunt performers as pertains to different production types and daily and per episode award rates.
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.
There are no qualification requirements to become a stunt performer. However, all stunt performers must be graded by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance and deemed competent in four out of five categories. These are: body control, heights, vehicles, animals and water.
In order to be considered for work as a stunt action person (SAP or Performer Grade 1) you must display competency in four of the five above categories. It is compulsory to display competency in one of three body-control categories - physical, fighting or stunt training.
Applications to become a licenced 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 by the applicant, their qualifications and achievements, their attitude towards working in the stunt and safety areas of the entertainment 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 roll of stunt co-ordinator or safety supervisor.
A range of stunt performer courses are offered by various Registered Training Organisations around the country. For further information visit the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance website.
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. Visit the ApprentiCentre to find out more.
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.
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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.