A couple of you suggested that I do an AMA, so here it is! I will answer as many questions as I can, honestly, in the next couple of hours, then I will log back in later tonight/tomorrow and answer the rest!

After seeing the lack of resources available on YouTube for indie filmmakers, I started making Action Filmmaking tutorials from a stuntman's perspective, to give back to the community that helped me become a stuntman! My goal is to help people do action SAFELY and make it LOOK GOOD. Here's the playlist so far: http://bit.ly/2mVA7CM

Earlier today, this video was trending on the front page (and it's still up on r/movies): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGyPLlLarJw

My short bio: Born in Russia, grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, went to college in Scotland. Moved to Los Angeles 6 years ago to become a professional stuntman, after I got interested in action filmmaking through my youtube channel and an online forum that existed back then called "The Stunt People".

On the days that I'm working, I do fight scenes, wrecks, wire work, parkour, and any number of other stunts that a production would need. I double actors (most recent one was Scott Adkins) and play bad guys all the time. (You've probably seen me die on screen.)

On my days off, I'm working at building a resource for indie filmmakers through my youtube channel, as well as training several different methods of fitness and martial arts.

My Proof:

TIMESTAMP: http://imgur.com/6pd5lbp

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4493407/

STUNT REEL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTtw0GNIL9g

EDIT: THANK YOU for your questions so far! KEEP THEM COMING! I'll be checking back here throughout the day, as well as tomorrow! And I will answer every one! :)

Comments: 70 • Responses: 29  • Date: 

David828812 karma

Why did you want to become a stuntman?

kellock7112 karma

Great question! There's a 2 part answer..

Part 1: Ever since I was about 5 years old I remember deconstructing action movies in my head. I was obsessed with Jackie Chan movies, and when I turned 10 I started reading everything I could find about Bruce Lee's training methods. Bruce Lee motivated me to get into Martial Arts when I was 12, and propelled me to train hard in Parkour when I turned 16.

Part 2: I was studying Architecture at the University of Dundee in Scotland, and spending way too much time making youtube videos with my friends. We were doing parkour videos, action comedy skits, and eventually I stumbled onto an online forum called "Stunt People". The forum was filled with indie stunt performers and filmmakers who were all posting their own fight scenes, and that motivated me to start making some fight scenes also!

I soon found that I had a knack for action.. so I took a year out from college and worked at a call center while continuing making videos (on another channel). Then, one of my friends from my home in Pittsburgh decided to move to Hollywood to be a stuntman, and I followed him on a whim! Saved up money for 3 months, and moved out here.

Best decision I've ever made :)

mincepienonce10 karma

Have you ever had to use your stunt skills in a real life situation?

kellock7125 karma

Wonderful question!

I have saved myself numerous times falling over, tripping, and falling off my dirt bike. One time I was riding a bicycle to the autoparts store with a beer in one hand..I tried going off a curb, and the front wheel accidentally turned sideways, which sent me flying forwards.

Luckily I was able to roll out of it and stand back up to take a sip... then I look over and there's an old man walking a dog staring at me, lol.

Fighting wise, I have not had to use those skills. Fortunately :)

Assorted_Bits3 karma

That would be an actual interesting (series of) "react"-videos for youtube. Filming unknowing bystanders when a prepared stunt is done in front of their eyes.

kellock713 karma

Great idea!! I've been pitching something similar to a couple prank YouTubers, but nobody is biting. I think I'll just have to make one! Like, a compilation?

Assorted_Bits3 karma

I'd go with trying it yourself. You're in the scene already and have contacts for the right people. Besides, you (and/or your group) can keep creative and financial control in case it becomes a succes.

kellock711 karma

Good point!

EddZachary6 karma

Did you see Sam Hargrave give a breakdown of a fight scene in Atomic Blonde? He gives a great overview and even gives a few secrets, like glass poppers and dropped frames in editing. Thanks for the detailed response on your original post. I know camera moves and angles help sell the shot. What other techniques can you use to help make a stunt look even better?

kellock7112 karma

I did see that!! Sam did a wonderful job, and I even learned some stuff from him! That guy is amazing, and is one of my biggest inspirations. (He was the first stuntman I ever met, when he doubled Joel Edgerton on a movie called Warrior, in Pittsburgh)

To answer your question: Other than camera work, you are relying on the actors and performers who are around the actor. Just like Sam mentioned in his breakdown, it is the whole team working together to "play to the angle" that sells the action.

Also, if you're hypothetically one of the stunt performers on the outside of a multiple person fight, your #1 job is to make the actor look good.

More stuff to help sell stunts: Sam basically covered it.. hiding pads everywhere you can, using VFX to remove pads and wires. I've also seen some people use a little baby powder to make a kick that connects look good!

Another cool trick is for those slo-mo face punch closeups. You can start 2 inches away from the face, and punch through without much force but it will look just as good :) (if you can picture Rocky..though I'm not sure if that's how they did it in Rocky per se)

RalfHorris5 karma

What's your Favourite on-screen fight scene?

kellock712 karma

I've been a Jackie Chan fan ever since I can remember.. so my top favorite fight scene is the Playground fight scene in Police Story 2!

Other favorites: All of the fights in the Raid movies, Donnie Yen's fights in the first IP MAN, and the craziness of the Oil fight from Transporter 2!

PeachCherry995 karma

What's your worst injury?

kellock7111 karma

Nice one!

I have been very fortunate so far (knocks on wood) and have been able to do my job safely for the most part.

The worst injury I've ever gotten from stunts was when I first moved out to LA. I made some other newbie stunt friends and a group of us (like 10 guys) decided to do an underground style fight scene/short film. So we found a location, which was an under-construction parkour gym..

The place where they were going to install the "foam pit" was still empty, and looked like a fighting pen.. so we covered the floor in cardboard to make it look "hard". In retrospection, I wish we'd have put 1 inch mats under all of the cardboard..

Anyways, I was doing a move where I do a spin hook kick and my opponent comes under and sweeps my leg out from under me, which sends me flying. I practiced it on a sprung floor perfectly, but my newbie brain forgot to realize I was now on concrete.. anyways, I freaked out in the air and came straight down on my shoulder. It separated for a second, then went back to normal.

I had to finish the fight scene though, so I was just wildly swinging my arm around.. when I went home, I put it in a sling and iced it.. then I couldn't lift my arm past shoulder height for about a week, until I went to Hot Yoga for 7 straight days. That stuff works MIRACLES!!

Full movement is now restored in my shoulder (luckily) and it has been 6 years since that incident.

Thanks for the question!! (My 2nd worst injury story isn't as cool..)

PeachCherry993 karma

Wow you have been lucky! I thought for sure that land would end in a broken bone or two! :) hope you stay just as safe while doing your stunts :)

kellock713 karma

Thank you!!

Lolikeaboss032 karma

Tell us about the less cool 2nd worst injury

kellock712 karma

Gladly! lol..

I was at a gymnastics gym, just warming up for a training session. I had done some kicks on the heavy bag (which I think contributed), and was just jumping on the trampoline. I wasn't even doing any flips yet, just jumping up and down to get warmed up.. when I came down wrong and dislocated my ankle.

It popped itself back into place after like 2 seconds, but I had to get my brother to drive me home (he was visiting, luckily).

I wasn't able to walk properly for about 2-3 weeks, at which point I went and got an x-ray... turns out my ankle was broken and grew back "mostly" in place.. haha

Moral of the story is: the simplest of things are when people get injured (we usually never get injured on the "big" stunts because we're bringing our mental a-game). Also, make sure to go to the emergency room when you're not sure if something is broken!

coryrenton4 karma

what's the biggest differences you see between old school stuntmen and up-and-comers? are there different stunt skills needed for integration with CG?

kellock7111 karma

Old School Stuntmen are hardcore. They came up in a time when you had no choice, but just had to DO THE THING. That still exists today, and you won't make it far without an "yes, I'll do that sir" attitude.. but I feel like us up-and-comers have it way easier due to the use of CG and VFX which can help hide pads, wires, etc.

As far as stunt skills and CG. I haven't done much motion capture work myself, but I have some friends that do it regularly.. basically, all CG still needs a "controller" which is a stunt performer in a mo-cap suit. And as such, those guys spend a lot of time training to move like animals and creatures. A friend of mine doubled Maugli in the Jungle Book. He said it was just months and months of green screen motion capture work... when doing motion capture, you get to fall on pads more often (because they're green), but you're in that suit cranking out takes all day.

MouthJob4 karma

Do you ever get any input as to the specifics of how a stunt should work or is it basically just "here's what you're doing so be ready?"

kellock718 karma

Usually the stunt coordinator who hires the stunt performer has spent several days in pre-production.. planning the stunts, renting any equipment, designing the action. So by the time I step on set, I will get an explanation on how the stunt is meant to go.

Now, stunts range wildly in difficulty. And sometimes you get told to do stuff that there isn't really any "right" way to do, except to just "eat it" on a wreck. In that case, you put on all the pads you can and go for the ride. (The video I put up on my channel last night talks about stunt pads). The last stunt I did like this was being thrown through a breakaway table from a fireman's carry on the shoulders of a 6'8" actor.

Some stunts are more complex, like a wire gag where you have to do a flip in the air and land on someone's shoulders. In this case, we usually get to practice it several times in rehearsals, then again on the day of the shoot.

And some stuff is pretty self explanatory.. like doing flips and fight scenes, in which case the coordinator just tells us what he wants to see :)

This is also why the stunt industry is built on trust and reputation, and you get jobs by word of mouth. We have to trust each other and in each other's abilities :)

Not__Doug3 karma

How did you start off?

Say i wanted to pursue stunt work with no experience, what would be the first step?

kellock712 karma

1 - Train in a discipline and get experience 2 - make a showreel / headshot 3 - move out to a production hub 4 - network, meet people, work on small projects and build your resume 5 - word of mouth builds the career

I started with a background in martial arts and parkour, so I made myself a showreel of different practice fights I did with friends, as well as parkour moves I could do. Then I moved to Los Angeles and started training with stunt people here, getting to know them, and eventually being invited to work on small projects, which build up over time :)

amirtaghan3 karma

What stunt in a film do you wish you could have done?

kellock711 karma

In 22 Jump Street, near the end, Channing Tatum's character jumps off a roof and grabs the leg of a helicopter. They then proceed to fly him around while "holding on with one hand".

My friend Antal doubled Channing in that film, and was telling me about how fun that was.. and so, even though I don't like heights too much, I think that's the stunt that I wish I could have done! (Spoiler: they did it in pieces, and had a safety harness strapped on at all times)

Bulgayrian3 karma

Hi! Can I ask, what was your first experience with filmmaking? Does it date back to child times or did you get into it when you got older?

kellock713 karma

My very first experience in filmmaking was when I discovered youtube and wanted to make a video! Here is the first video I ever made actually, before I even had a video camera.. so I made a stop motion video (I was 16yrs old): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkoS2V-aNag

Then, I was making parkour videos for a while.. and started experimenting with actual scene structure when I was in college. I started a comedy channel with some friends of mine, and called it Kouro Media: http://youtube.com/kouromedia

Then I moved to LA and worked as an editor for a friend of mine for a while, before returning to my own youtube channel. Here is the most recent re-incarnation of the stop motion concept :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waGg29jwa3Q

superiorpanda3 karma

What do you charge per concussion?

kellock717 karma


Union day rate is 960/day, plus stunt adjustments. If it's a big wreck like a CAR HIT, where you know you're going to get banged up and potentially concussed (though we do everything we can to avoid that).. the stunt adjustments will range from 1000-3000 per hit.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I haven't personally done any "real" car hits myself yet, these numbers come from friends I've seen do it.. I personally enjoy using a mix of VFX and a stunt to make a realistic car hit (going to be doing a tutorial on that soon.. until then, check it out here at 0:43 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-bvSuJcNmw)

superiorpanda3 karma

Dude that is sweet! Cool video too. That would be an entertaining gig if you were good at taking a fall/smack. Wish you the best, might be the only time it would be polite to say I hope I see you in an accident soon!

kellock716 karma

haha, nice one!

PS I honestly hope I DON'T see myself in an accident any time soon! lol.. my specialty is more in the art of movement, and fight choreography :) car hits scare the sh** out of me.. hope no coordinators are looking at this >_> lol

superiorpanda3 karma

lol makes sense. was that in real time? when you mimicked being hit by a car

kellock714 karma

That particular example was sped up just slightly, on the vfx shot. The part on the ground was real time.

I've actually did it a second time with a friend of mine, and this one was not sped up. Hit happens at 0:11 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsB3kqIfasc

FredHowl3 karma

What do you do spescifically as a stunt coordinator, and what are the differences between working on a music video and a feature film? Thank you for the AMA!

kellock715 karma

Hi Fred, thanks for the interesting question!

I do not promote myself as a stunt coordinator, though I've done it several times.. but I can surely explain to you what the job entails!

The Stunt Coordinator is the head of the stunt department. Think of it as the Action Design department. The stunt coordinator gets a script, and goes through it while making a "stunt breakdown" which lists every stunt and action sequence. Depending on the production, he will either get more or less input (action movies that do well usually get a lot of creative input from the stunt coordinators: ie John Wick, where the directors were both Stunt Coordinators in the past)

Then after several production meetings, the coordinator puts together a roster of all of the people in the department and brings them on board.

The Stunt Coordinator hires the Stunt Performers, Stunt Riggers (people who specialize in setting up advanced rigs, like flying and superpower movie stuff), and makes sure they have all of the necessary equipment for each of the Action Days.

On the day of the shoot, the stunt coordinator is there to set up the stunt and make sure everyone is ready and knows what they're doing. He/she will also usually be safety-ing the pads and standing by in case of injury. When everything is set to go, the stunt coordinator is the one who usually yells "Action" on the stunt.

After the stunt/action sequence is finished, the coordinator makes sure everyone is safe, and checks with the director if he got the look he wanted.

Again, depending on how involved the coordinator is in the production.. he/she may want to sit in on parts of the editing process, to make sure they stuff looks good.

There have been several projects I've worked on (and it happens all the time) where we KNOW the camera got some amazing footage.. but it got butchered in the edit. (This is why if I ever DO coordinate something, I usually insist on getting final say on the action edit).

Hope that answers your question! _^

FredHowl3 karma

Thank you so much! Very interesting

kellock713 karma

you're welcome, thank you!!

paguy2363 karma

What goes into you everyday training routine?

kellock713 karma

Great question!

My routine varies from week to week, because I'm constantly learning different skills. Some weeks I'm focused on fight choreography, others I'm rock climbing, and yet others I'll be riding dirt bikes, etc.. but here is the basic structure.

Also, when I'm working, it's usually long hours (5am call times, etc) so I don't get to train much.. but on the days that I'm not working..

I wake up around 6 am (aiming to get it to 5 am soon), and hop in a cold shower. That jolts my system awake, after which I meditate and write out my to-do list for the day. Then I do a morning workout, which is usually solo. After that, I do whatever work needs to be done for the day (computer work, sending resumes, making videos), then I do my afternoon training, which is either skill development or weightlifting (modified bodybuilding).

MORNING WORKOUTS: In the morning I stick to some form of Intense Cardio/Calisthenics workout. Sometimes I run the hills by my house, followed by a pushup/pullup/burpee circuit. Other days I will hit the gym and run on the treadmill, then row, then bike, then do some full body circuits with free weights.

WEIGHT WORKOUTS: When I'm in a bodybuilding cycle (I usually go 3-4 weeks at a time, then take a break for a week), I will split my lifting into 4 days. Chest/Tris, Back/Bis, and Legs/Shoulders x 2 days. I've been finding my lifting workouts too brutal recently, since I was sore on the job, so I've started modifying them into full body workouts that just focus on one of those groups slightly more than the other.

SKILL DEVELOPMENT: For skill development, this ranges wildly depending on who is available to work out that day! I usually go to a gymnastics gym at least once a week to keep my tricking (flips, kicks, twists) skills sharp. There are several fight choreography groups that train every week, so I'll hit them up. If my rock climbing buddy is available, we will hit up our favorite spots near Santa Monica.. and I'm currently looking for people to start training in Tactical Movement

MARTIAL ARTS: Thought I'd add this, too! My background is in competitive Judo (7yrs) and TaeKwonDo (4yrs) but since I moved to LA I've been focusing on training fight choreography, which molds several styles together... but recently my friend Justin Gant (he's also in my tutorials) and I started training in Jeet Kune Do, and so we'll do that twice a week!

Sorry if the reply was messy.. trying to answer honestly! lol. My training feels all over the place, but the wake-up times, cold showers, and training 2x per day stays consistent!

coryrenton2 karma

what are the easiest stunts that look impressive, and the hardest stunts that don't get much credit from the audience?

kellock715 karma

Wow, really cool question!

I think it depends on the stunt performer, but for me the easiest things to do are martial arts flips and jump spin kick to moves. Also, when I get to do Wirework and fly around, that's pretty easy because I'm basically in for the ride.

I have to think about the second part! Brb

kellock712 karma

Sorry it took me a couple of days to answer the second part (celebrating a birthday all weekend)

The hardest stunts that don't get much credit I would say are the high falls. They aren't done as often in today's movies, but they're still there.. basically a stunt performer falls off a height into an air bag.. could be coming out of a window, or being thrown in a weird way.

High falls are scary in general, and since the camera has to frame out the air bag, you don't get to see the full height as a viewer.

High falls are also often under-estimated when the performer is doing a "face-off", which is where they're flying forwards and down (looking like they're about to faceplant the ground) but have to turn at the last second to hit the airbag with their back. Face Offs are hard because you're supposed to wait until the very last split second, so the camera doesn't see you start turning..

And that is why there are high falls specialists today!

WickedSushi2 karma

What films did you work on?

What is your opinion on Drive? (In which the main character is a stuntman)

kellock717 karma

I've been here for 6 years and have mainly worked on TV shows, but I have done several Netflix movies..most recently worked on a Scott Adkins film (can't say the name yet though!)

Here's my imdb! http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4493407/

I love Drive as a movie, the vibes are really cool and the story is good, the music, everything.

As far as from a stuntman's perspective, it's all made up. LA stunt drivers don't get their jobs from a mechanic who says "hey, I got another gig for you" and then you go flip a car, lol.

Thanks for the cool question!

King_Jeebus2 karma

As a no-budget filmmaker, is there such a thing as low-budget stunts?

Eg stuff that looks cool and adds production value, but is still perfectly safe and affordable?

Conversely, is there a stunt that stunt people hate doing?

kellock713 karma

Hey, great question!

Simple falls, where you can frame out a crash pad or mattress that's on the floor, are good for low budget projects. You shoot the fall, them a pickup of the actor hitting the ground (from like 1ft up). Learning how to do some simple fight Choreography is also good!

Car Hits.. stunt people tend to hate car hits, lol

windwoker2 karma

Hey Rustic!

Really like your channel and what you are trying to do. It's great to see your videos have been improving over the months!

I know that a lot of what you focus on is action films, and I find it really interesting as I study and make films, but don't get much in the way of an education for filming/theory of action films, so I greatly appreciate what you are doing.

My question is: do you think that there is a practical use for the skills that you have when filming a different genre? like perspective cheating. For example, I can imagine that it could be useful for physical comedy.

Thanks for doing what you do, and keep making videos!

kellock712 karma

Hey, great question!

YES, I think everything you learn on my channel can be applied to different genres. My friend likes to call fight choregraphy and stunts "the art of non-verbal dialogue".. so basically, we're just equipping people with physical tools to be able to advance their stories :)

And it's funny you mention Physical comedy! That's actually the other focus of my channel, if you get a minute pls check out my Action Comedy playlist and lmk what u think! http://bit.ly/2eI2015

Lolikeaboss032 karma

Are there any stunts that are really easy, but if you screw it up it's a lot of damage done to you?

kellock712 karma

Every stunt is like that! You can always fall the wrong way and break something..

but to answer more specifically.. Breaking through glass can be dangerous if you don't go at the right angle, or if you land wrong.

Also, you may have heard recently about the stuntman tragedy on the Walking Dead.. that should have been a simple fall (20 feet is nothing), but the pad was a few inches off.

We get paid to take risks, and our job is to treat every stunt like the biggest one.. the most dangerous thing for a stuntman is to become "complacent" in their thinking, and overlook something

Kirkodirk2 karma

Have you had any close calls or malfunctions that make a good story?

kellock711 karma

Hey, thanks for the question! Luckily, I have not had anything like that happen to me. I've been very lucky to work with some mindful stunt coordinators.

A friend of mine did an air-ram (air loaded spring board) launch from one rooftop to another, landing on some mats with a 1-foot margin for error. It took production all day to get to filming his stunts, and when he was mentally set to go.. they decided to push it til the morning. He was upset at first, but then realized the next morning that the pads were a little off. He made the adjustment, and landed safely :)

Robpool20001 karma

What movies have you worked on?

kellock712 karma

I haven't worked on too many mainstream movies yet, my career has been mostly TV and commercial.. but here are a couple you might recognize: The Diabolical, Dead Snow 2, Pandemic

My first doubling job was on SMOSH: The Movie, where I doubled Anthony Padilla.

I also produced a feature with some stunt friends of mine, called Boone: The Bounty Hunter.

Here's my imdb if you want to have a peek! :D http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4493407/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

Robpool20001 karma

Is there a movie you dream of working on?

kellock712 karma

YES!! I'd love to work on a movie with Jackie Chan. Also, a dream job for me would be to double a super hero