Q: How did you become a stuntman?
A: In 1987 I saw an ad in the San Francisco Examiner/Chronicle newspaper for a stunt training program in Redwood City, CA (about 45 minutes south of San Francisco) and thought Id give it a try. I was already working as an actor (I got my Screen Actors Guild union membership card in 1981) and was looking to expand my potential to be hired. There were two six week courses, a B class for beginners and an A class for those who passed the B class. The classes where held in a large warehouse with gymnastic style tumbling pads for learning rolls and falls, boxing speed and heavy bags, a trampoline, a wood stair case for stair falls, a beat-up old car for learning car hits and plenty of fake (rubber and plastic) swords, knives, bats, clubs, batons and other items for fight scenes. After passing both courses I moved from Northern California to Southern California (Burbank) to start hustling for work in the business.
Q: What was the most challenging stunt job you have never had?
A: In 1997 I was hired as the stunt double for Samuel L. Jackson on Sphere (Directed by Barry Levinson, Written by Michael Crichton) which also starred Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, Peter Coyote, Queen Latifah and Liev Schreiber. Each actor had a stunt double and the stunt team started underwater training two weeks before filming the movie. Out of water the uniforms were very heavy. The helmet (35 lbs), the backpack (70 lbs – twin scuba tanks), the battery pack waist belt (15 lbs) and the boots (15 lbs). It took about 20 45 minutes to get into the suits. We looked forward to getting in the water because most of the weight disappeared once we were submerged. There were scenes where we had to jump into the water, run under water and climb a ladder, which meant we slept pretty good at night from the exhaustion. I worked for four and a half months on Sphere and it was probably one of the best jobs I ever had.
Q: Was there ever a stunt you refused to do?
A: Yakima Canutt was a pioneer in the field of stunts in movies. If you search Yakima Canutt Stagecoach youll find this clip with Vic Armstrong (stunt coordinator/2nd unit director Thor, The Amazing Spider Man, Mission Impossible III) who talks about this incredible stunt of Yakima Canutt leaping from his horse to a team of horses pulling a stagecoach (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9TS6ZCgZkc). He falls to the ground between the horses holding on to the rig and then lets go as the horses and stagecoach pass him. I was asked to do this stunt in 1998 and having no experience with horses, no cojones for this type of stunt and no desire to get kicked in the head by horses I said uh, no, I think Ill pass.
Q: What is your oddest Hollywood story?
A: Working as a Wookie in the Star Tours: The Adventure Continues film that plays continuously in the Star Tours ride at Disneyland. It was an amazing job to get to step into a Wookie costume and be a part of the scene where you travel to the Wookie Planet. You can see me hit the glass in this YouTube video at the 1:45 mark http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvdB_9tQxqs. It was about 8 hours of work for that :05 second clip.
Q: What is Our Next Movie?
A: Our goal is to produce movies in Northern California every year if possible. Our Next Movie is a page on Facebook that allows us to engage fans who would like to follow the journey as we make Our Next Movie. Instead of launching a new page each time we start a movie, we thought it might be best to have one page where we can grow our audience and invite them to be a part of the experience. You can visit and LIKE our page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/OurNextMovie/308909995903294. Our goal is to grow the page to over 100,000 Likes before launching a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to fund The Lavender Bandit (working title) which will be a romantic comedy.
Q: Why a romantic comedy?
A: We would like to produce a variety of films. Our 1st movie Chasing Rodriguez is a family friendly movie that got endorsed by the organization Kids First for a film that is approved for families. Our Next Movie will not be approved for kids. We plan to take this next project into the R region with appropriately edgy scenes for a more mature audience. Its the story of Marty who wants to get married but chickens out as he’s about to propose to his girlfriend and instead hires a private investigator to check her out first. We plan to film in the San Francisco bay area, mostly in Contra Costa County (an hour east of San Francisco) in the summer of 2014. Actors, crew, volunteers and other supporters who are interested in working on or being a part of the movie should sign up for the email updates at http://www.OurNextMovie.com.
Q: What are you looking for in a script?
A: With this next production were looking for LOL (laugh-out-loud) scenes and situations. Comedy is always a challenge and they say if it aint on the page, it aint on the stage so well spend many hours working to craft the best script we can for the budget that we have to work with. We recently announced The Lavender Bandit to our Facebook friends with this YouTube video Skype call with writer Jeff Vibes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrWEFFiMzhA.
Q: What kind of budget are we looking at here?
A: Our Next Movie, The Lavender Bandit (working title), will be a Screen Actors Guild ultra-low budget contract and we may also sign a contract with the Directors Guild of America. The S.A.G. contract allows us to employ union and non-union talent and give us greater flexibility in terms of budgeting for name talent.
Q: What is Chasing Rodriguez about?
A: Chasing Rodriguez is the story of Daniel, an aspiring filmmaker and fan of Robert Rodriguez, who gets together with his friends to make a movie for a film contest and runs into a wealthy heiress and 3 clowns who are all out to steal the priceless Black Widow Diamond. We produced Chasing Rodriguez to try and raise money for schools in the Mount Diablo Unified School district. We filmed it in 15 days using Canon 5D and 7D cameras and GoPro cameras for some of the action scenes. It got great support from local restaurants who fed the cast and crew for free because of the cause, volunteers who donated their time, locations who let us film there for free and plenty of local press. Keep in mind that the budget for Chasing Rodriguez was about 15 seconds of Avatar just to put things in perspective. If you’d like to see how it turned out its available on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009B0SPSY/?tag=concordmoviec-20.
Q: What do you like about San Francisco?
A: San Francisco is an amazing city for so many reasons. The landscape, the restaurants, the views, the people, cable cars, BART, Pier 39, the Golden Gate Bridge and more! I was born and raised in San Francisco and have worked on many local productions here. Some of the movies I worked on include Contagion with Matt Damon, The Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith, Milk with Sean Penn, War with Jason Statham, Bicentennial Man with Robin Williams, James and the Giant Peach and more. There are thousands of talented actors in the San Francisco bay area and I look forward to hiring many of them on Our Next Movie and other movies in the future!
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)