Low Budget Stunts are a “Pain” – Literally

Okay, since I first began shooting Atlanta Homicide (now known as “Atlanta Investigations:HD” – more to follow on this soon), back in January I have seen the entire process continuously improving.  I think that is one of the things that make this project so much fun to work on.  While I wasn’t necessarily there on day one, I did come in early enough to witness the evolution of where we were to where we are today.  First, the scripts are getting better and better.  We also have a much more stable cast of recurring characters now.  So, throughout each subsequent episode you can really start to feel the various relationships begin to take on a life of their own.  But I guess, more than anything else, the overall production value of the show has increased with every new day on set.

We have taken in more “on-location” shoots, more car scenes, more in-your-face scenes.  We have had several fight scenes and even a shoot out staged down at MLK park late one Saturday night.  Everything about that one was a little bizarre.  But all of these scenes have been pretty well staged and, at best, run at 50-75% full action.  

All of that changed yesterday.  I had a scene where my character and my partner were going to talk to a murder suspect at his home.  Well, as you would expect, he was not too keen on talking to us.  So…. he bolts out the side door and takes off.  I mean this kid was FLYING!  So, being the Alpha male cop that I play on TV I immediately gave chase.

The scene called for a short, but full out foot pursuit where the suspect flees his home, hops a wood fence and is pretty much tackled, kneed and cuffed by yours truly.  As we were blocking out the scene and figuring out where the exact action would take place and where the cameras would be, I happened to notice that this wood fence is about 4 foot high from the level that we were running and about 5 – 5 1/2″ down to the ground we would ultimately land on.  Piece of cake!  I mean I’m an agile, athletic young buck, right?  Who needs a stunt man for something like this?  Uh huh, right! 

After we walk through it a couple of times we decided to just go ahead and shoot it full out at 100% action.  You can’t really half jump over a fence.  With the cameras rolling – off we go!  Spotting the fuzz outside his crib my man is off like a bullet and is flat out moving before he shoots his 6’4″ frame over that fence like a gazelle with me hot on his heels.  On cue he goes down just as I am about to spring over the fence.  But hold on!  Where he landed is a little short of where I anticipated him being.  Within those miliseconds I shifted my leaping/hurling/springing action to miss landing square on him.  Instead, I slammed my knee into the top rail and then proceeded to finish out my already in motion flying-through-the-air action.  I land near enough to secure the suspect in the same rough fashion we had intended, but my knee is pretty jacked.  Take 1 being “CUT” I struggled to my feet and hobbled back to position one to do it all over again, and again, and again.  Six, seven, eight more times to cover all angels and only one more banged knee.

So here I sit, 28 hours later, my knee still bruised and swollen, thinking I had conceptualized it going a lot more smoothly than it did.    Maybe the fence was actually a little taller than I originally thought.  And what was up with the camera being there on that one take?  Not to mention that stupid branch hanging down which seemed to appear out of nowhere on another.

The upside of this little story?  Well I do think I gleaned a smidgen of humility yesterday.  Oh yeah, and I am pretty adamant about having my IMdb.com credits for this episode include “stuntman”.

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