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Call To Action: Stunt Industry To Rally In Beverly Hills For An Oscar Category On Wednesday
Photo from the set of Terminator 2: Judgement Day (Courtesy Of Joel Kramer)
Good stories and good acting are key to making any film or TV show notable and watchable. The same goes for action movies, and in that respect, even greater action and stunt work is what's required to sell an action product. Without it, most of our habits wouldn't exist today.
More specifically, it's a field that influenced my interest in online independent action by inspired filmmakers back in the early 2000s as many of the people I've written about on this blog have risen to some major career successes in the field. It's why we enjoy a lot of the Marvel and DC films we see today and enjoy some of the smaller scale productions like Sakamoto Koichi's Broken Path or Dennis Ruel's recently released Unlucky Stars, a fact that still raises a lot of questions among those working today regarding why an Oscar category for Stunts don't exist.
For 25 years to date, the stunt industry has been campaigning for an Oscar category of their own, and it's something that's as important to them, and for good reason. Do they make a lot of money? Sure. However, that amount of income doesn't come without its huge share of risk as many people who perform the feats we enjoy watching have spent their years earning their stripes through more than the usual cuts and bruises. Some of them get badly injured, and have even died on the set of many of the very films we've watched in our lifetime.
Knowing this, you might think they're crazy for doing what they do, and to some mild extent, you're right. It definitely takes some outside-the-box thinking to go out in the world, venture into uncharted territory and do some of the most insane and electrifying things that not a lot of us would want or have interest in doing, and virtually all of them do it for the simple reason that most artists do what they do in general: They love it. Ask anyone of them and they'll tell you the same thing as I myself have yet to meet a stunt professional who would imply having gotten into this field for the check or did it because they were bored. It's a reason similar to why I spent many of my younger years as a pencil artist and doing favors for people with portraits and even winning a few art awards in my time, why I took up improv acting and even singing and songwriting for a time up until I was in college, and why it is I do what I do here on Film Combat Syndicate for the last three years and onward, not having ever seen a check from Google (yet), and having put up with a good number of jerks and liars to meet, greet and support many of the people I write about on this site: I freaking LOVE it.
Forgive me if you feel like you've accidentally stumbled into an online rant. Sure, I'm kind of venting, but you can't argue that the people I'm addressing in my article here don't have a case to make. They do, and they've made it time and time again for close to three decades. The 88th annual Academy Awards show is this Sunday with a number of films, including George Miller's Spring 2015 blockbuster, Mad Max: Fury Road, currently up for possible some Oscar wins of their own, and as of this article, if you go to their website, you won't find a single column attributed to the stunt performance and coordinator field. Not one.
Jackie Chan on the set of Dragon Lord (1982)
As it stands, stunt performers do have some annual award shows of their own, be it the Tarus World Stunt Awards which debuted its commitee a year before its first ceremony in 2001, or events like the SAG Awards for film and TV and the Action On Film festival which is held annually varying in different parts of California as of 2004. Nonetheless, the Academy Awards is where most eyes convene; James Cameron's Titanic made its stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet household names while earning nearly 2.2 billion dollars globally at the box office in 1997. A year later, 57 million people watched as the film took home 11 wins and 14 nominations, making the 70th annual Academy Awards show the most watched event among its shows.
That's 57 million people who will probably don't know the name Sarah Franzl who doubled actress Winslet on Titanic among over 140 other stunt performers and coordinators re-enacting some of the film's memorable moments; This is the same Sarah Franzl who also has work credited in upcoming action thrillers like Ariel Vromen's Criminal and the Idris Elba action starrer, Bastille Day. But more importantly however, this is 57 million people who bring tens to hundreds of millions of dollars to the box office every year to watch and admire their favorite stars and directors.
And so it goes - if you're one of those moviegoers who, like me, watches action films, it is inherently in your best interest to extend your graces to many of the kind people who make what you enjoy so much more fun - People like Franzl and stunt and action directors like Joel Kramer (Furious 7), J.J. Perry (John Wick: Chapter 2), Joey Ansah (Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist), people like Jackie Chan or Sammo Hung and MANY others I write about here at Film Combat Syndicate or include in my weekly Hit List column every Monday.
This is one of the many cases that protestors and folks within the stunt community will be making when they attend the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Wednesday afternoon in Beverly Hills with a petition 45,000 signatures strong. Check out the flyer below, and if you're in the neighborhood and love what these people do, come on over and share your support.
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The film takes its cues from Stephen Leather's novel, The Chinaman and is adapted for the screen by David Marconi with Casino Royale helmer Martin Campbell directing. Chan is joined by Pierce Brosnan, Liu Tao and Katie Leung for the story of a South London restaurant owner who reverts to the lethal skillset built in his dark past, paving his own way for vengeance after an IRA terrorist attack that kills his family and the justice system fails him.
The film has already made itself a share of festival appearances with a few gamey one-sheets but we now have an official first poster for its …
Acclaimed director and film multi-hyphenate Shaun Piccinino is set to direct American Fighter for ESX Entertainment. The film is a sequel to last year's American Wrestler: The Wizard which starred actor George Kosturos in the 1980-set tale of a young Iranian teen transplanted into a new town where he's forced to face adversity from all angles after joining the high school wrestling team.
Kosturos is returning to the sequel according to a new report from Variety which also lists Tommy Flanagan, Bryan Craig, Sean Patrick Flanery and Parviz Sayyad attached to star. Forrest Lucas, Ali Afshar, Christina Moore and Anna Zielinski are producing the film with a story by Afshar that now centers on a desperate teen who builds character between opponents upon competing in the underground fight circuit to save his dying mother. “Continuing down the line of a ‘Rocky’ meets ‘Karate Kid’ story, this new ‘American Wrestler’ movie remains a very heartfelt project for me,” Afshar said. “The res…