Although some of my friends were very adamant about sending cold emails to different coordinators, I never believed that it was going to work. I figured that the only emails that I was going to get away with were the ones that I sent right before I was going to actually show up in front of the coordinators face. However, I was proven wrong, very, very wrong!
Before I even went on my first hustling trip, I sent emails out to some local Florida coordinators. I sent standard emails with my head shot, resume, stunt reel, and a message that said I would love to work with them. Three weeks later, I got a text message from one of the coordinators asking if my headshot was current. After going back and forth about my look and sending an impromptu picture (thanks to my wife!), he asked if I was available tomorrow. Tomorrow? Let me back up and tell you that this is way different from the live entertainment industry I come from. We book out months in advance. If I called and tried to book an entertainer for within the week, they might laugh at me. But, I am new to this industry and I have no idea how things work. So, even though I wasn’t technically available, I said “YES!” He told me that I would be doubling someone and asked if it was OK to cut and color my hair. I texted calmly “Not a problem,” but I wanted to say “Of course, whatever you need, do you need me to cut a leg off too?” Haha, maybe not that far, but you get the point!
So…the next morning, I packed up my stuff and headed on a 4 hour drive to the shoot. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. All I knew was that I was going to a prison to film a fight scene, where I would be doubling some actor. I had to be there at 10:30 am for hair & make-up. I didn’t know what the show was, nor did I know anyone else that was going to be there. I showed up to the prison and walked onto the live set. My first surprise was that only 5 people out of the 50 or so there spoke English. I guess I should have known from the Telemundo trailers outside that this would be the case. My contact rushed me straight to hair and makeup where two ladies who spoke no English spent two hours on me. I was transformed from a kid with spikey hair to a tired Spanish prisoner with a full goatee! It was absolutely AWESOME!
From there we went on lunch and I finally met the coordinator who gave me my shot! This guy has to be hugely brave. I feel like he put his reputation on the line to give me this shot. I have no credits at all and he only saw a list of the live shows that I did and my demo reel (which is mostly flips with one section of fight choreography). Anyway, I am super thankful that he went out on a limb for me. I owe him big time!
Back to the story…And then in the middle of hanging out and talking to the other stung guys and the coordinator, they were all of a sudden ready. We went from a dead stop to 100mph (my kinda style!). We walked in to this “itty-bitty” prison cell with four bunk beds. This is where the scene would take place. The director explained what was going on and what he wanted to see from the fight. Like a machine the coordinator all of a sudden started showing us what he wanted us to do. How in the hell did he think of that so fast? Was it already in his head? We went through the choreography over and over with the other stunt guy and actors. Punches were flying, kicks were thrown, and prison bars were rammed into. Within 30 minutes we were ready to roll. I rushed backed to hair and makeup to get my goatee put on and secured. I was now ready to go!
I want to take a line here and explain that I finally met the actor I was going to double in this rehearsal process. We were almost a dead match! In fact, multiple people throughout the day confused the two of us and then were kinda freaked out that we looked so much alike! As for the actor himself, he was freakin awesome. Super cool to be around and even funny!
Back to the shoot… We did about 4 “takes” with the cameras outside of the prison cell, with me in place of the actor. Everything went very well and the director seemed to love it. After this, we spent about an hour going through each move in the fight scene with the actor. This was crazy to me (keep in mind this is the first time I have ever done this). I just filmed the scene from start to finish, but now we were going to go back and get every move with the actor in the shot? Stupid me…I forget that I know nothing about this yet. Some people after the fact explained to me that this is normal, it is what makes the fight scenes look realistic! Anyway, we went about three moves at a time with the actor, filming each set of moves a couple of times. This way they could get reaction shots of his face and use it during the scene. So cool to me!
After finishing the first fight segment, we did it one more time with a shorter scene. The process was virtually the same, rehearse the scene, director approved, film the scene, and have the actor step in to do it step by step. It went very, very well! The coordinator even told me that I did a “great job today!” Hindsight being 20/20, I think this might have been the acknowledgement of “I know you’re new, but you did pretty well.”
After everything was filmed, I got my fake goatee and makeup removed and headed out to my car. The day couldn’t have gone any better. This is best for me as it made the 4 hour drive home much more pleasant! Hopefully, I will get to come back and double this guy again soon!