Hey everyone, Im sitting here with Jim Wilkey and Harry Wowchuck. These two gentlemen have had a life full of stunts in movies and television and they've agreed to answer some questions and tell some stories. One of the more recognizable stunts Jim has done (and the one that got the ball rolling on this ama) is the semi trailer flip in The Dark Knight. https://youtu.be/hRgq12XOhjc

Jim's IMDB http://m.imdb.com/name/nm0929197/

Harry's IMDB http://m.imdb.com/name/nm0941925/

And my name is Devin Donaghy, I'm a newbie to the stunt world currently gaining experience and working my way into the industry. You can follow my progress here https://www.instagram.com/devindonaghy/

We are currently teaching a stunt driving class so the replies will be spread throughout the day with the bulk of replies made during our lunch around 11:30 PST.

With that being said, a variety of stunt people will be dropping by to practice their driving so if they want to participate, I'll add them as they come.

Verification https://imgur.com/a/YxI7I

Ask us anything!

Edit: Cassie Lee Minick is here now as well. A very accomplished and talented stunt woman.



Edit again! Guys, I know today has been slow with the answers. We ended up having about 14 stunt people show up for tuneups so we were all extremely busy with car maintenance and instructing. So busy that the instructors, myself included, didn't get to break for lunch. I will be back with them tomorrow and it should be much slower so I will make sure everyone gets there questions answered so that this wasn't a complete failure of an AMA

Final edit for now: Theres a lot of great questions that didn't get answered, mostly cause I could tell I was starting to annoy them with so many questions during an unusually busy weekend. But, I will still work on getting your answers anytime I see them. Thank you for participating and again, sorry it kinda ended up being a not so very active one!

Comments: 108 • Responses: 32  • Date: 

theymademedoitpdx48 karma

What was the hardest stunt for Inception? What would’ve changed if more CGI had been used?

LElige99 karma

I wasn't there for the whole thing but probably the gimble for the hallway scene was the hardest. As far as large scale, it was the train; Driving it was a little dicey since I had to do it using only monitors. If more CGI had been used, they probably would've made the train fake. But thats what I like about Christopher Nolan. He wants to do it for real. - Jim

Rangourthaman_3 karma


Never even considered he used a real train.

LElige7 karma

Jim told me a good story about this train too. When he was driving he could only see out the monitors so he's looking at these when he sees a drunk guy stumble out of a bar. The drunk guy looks up and just sees this freight train barreling down the road. He stops, straightens out, turns around and walks straight back into the bar.

duffil43 karma

How accurate is the inside of Stuntman Mike's car in Tarantino's "Death Proof?

LElige6 karma

Accurate in terms of a stunt vehicle? Yeah its pretty accurate. Really just depends on what stunt the vehicle is being prepared for. Modern cars have much better crash safety now so they don't require as much of a cage as stuntman mikes car had but for any big crashes extra reinforcement like harnesses and roll bars is still a requirement.

notwutiwantd41 karma

How much do you love Christopher Nolan for keeping your jobs relevant?

LElige61 karma

I think he's great yeah. He's one of our heroes for letting us do it for real instead of just on paper - Jim

LElige12 karma

He's one of the true directors that hasn't gotten the acknowledgement he deserves - Harry

Yugma40 karma

Which was the most difficult stunt for you?

LElige166 karma

Probably in terms of just the logistics and scale of it was the truck flip. It had never been done before and it had to happen on the first try, right on the mark, right in front of the IMAX cameras. - Jim

Got married... hahaha - Harry

LElige3 karma

Harry didn't want me to post this cause he can't remember if it was actually the most difficult but he said it was still pretty tough. https://youtu.be/rY_3Q1XnNvo

albaniax37 karma

How many bones have been broken?

LElige68 karma

Ive lost count. Few broken backs, hips, ribs. A lot. - Harry

Yes_roundabout14 karma

Christ. First.. Insurance issues and cost? Second.. What impact (heh, sorry) has this had on your life?

LElige3 karma

When you belong to the union the production company and the union take care of any injuries that might have happened on set. You're not gonna get money out of it but you'll be taken care of. My first question when I'm injured is "how long until I can get back to it?"

You know Ive often wondered most people would have quit after the first injury and its kind of like it makes you a stronger person to pursue and come back. Itd just be easier to quit and it makes you a stronger person to come back. So I don't know if its stubbornness or its a challenge to come back when everyone tells you to quit. I know a lot of people who got injured and just quit but I wasn't raised that way. But its a great job when everything is working and its fun. - Harry

Unmai_Vilambi21 karma

That truck flip was one of my biggest "holy shit" moments when watching a movie, it still gives me chills to watch it in the video you linked.

What sorts of expertise do you make use of, to make a stunt like that work? How do you go from "here's a grand idea" to figuring out what you need to make it happen?

LElige3 karma

Physics and personal experience mainly. You get the idea for the stunt however that happens, whether it's the director or the writer or whoever and then you get some people together to figure out the physics of the stunts and then test it in a controlled environment before moving on to the big picture.

misskrumpet14 karma

My brother is a stunt man, And has been campaigning for stunt professionals to be included in movie and television awards. What's your take on that?

LElige7 karma

Everyone is kind of mixed on this one. Some want the recognition, some dont care. Ive even heard a reason we don't get awards is to discourage doing more dangerous stunts trying to get an award.

Lassomnia913 karma

Hi there ! Huge fan of stunts (ok with a preference for the old ones, and European ones).

How did you come to be a stuntman ?

What are you favorites stunts (even done and created by others, from around the globe) ? Do you have a "master stuntman" you "fangirl" about ?

How do you create a stunt ?

Do you think the film industry treats well enough stuntmen like you ? You are men of shadow, and from what I have experienced being around stuntmen a good part of my life, you are the most humble men and women to be around. So I mean, there is little to no consideration I think (and it is just my opinion). When a film is base 1/3 on action and stunts, don't you think you should deserve a bit more highlight ?

What is the ratio men/women around you ? You teach class, do you have many women ?

Thanks and cheers ! You do a wonderful job and truly deserve more claps on the back :)

LElige16 karma

I just fell into it. - Jim

Well I learned a lot from terry leonerd who was a legendary stuntman. My father in Le tap Canute. You know the old westerns and the old epics. Those were real stunts, you weren't hanging from wires or anything. - Jim

Well that's not really a question I can answer in any reasonable amount of time. There are too many factors to consider depending on what kind of stunt it is. - jim

Nooo, I don't necessarily subscribe to that. I think we're treated well. - Jim

Id say its about 75 percent men to 25 percent women. But there's starting to be a lot more women now. - Jim

As for class, it's about the same. Usually there's at least 1 girl in each class. With class sizes of 3-6. But weve had 6 all girl classes before. - Devin

P.S. Harry's pretty busy right now or I would have gotten answers from him too..

cajacaliente10 karma

  • what has been everyone's favorite stunt or scene they've worked on?
  • scariest situation when working?
  • ever lost a life on the set?

LElige41 karma

One of my favorites was the buss train wreck sequence in the fugitive. - Jim

I beat up Logan Paul in his new movie... - Devin

I had to take an old v8 bulldozer and drive it over a thousand foot cliff and jump just as it tipped over. And I was doubling a 90 year old man so I had to move like one. That was on a movie called the Milagro bean field war. That was one that will make your heart beat pretty fast.. - Jim

No, we haven't had anyone die on set we've worked on.

DoctorSalt13 karma

Would the bulldozer scene involve wires or just heavy balls?

LElige19 karma

Just heavy balls

jambait10 karma

Question for Jim and/or anyone else who worked on Mad Max: Fury Road. How did the radio/headset wire harnesses my boss and I made for your team hold up in those stunts? I believe we were the second supplier for the project. We've never tested them in those kind of situations, and I'm curious about their performance.

LElige3 karma

I think they did alright. You know there were certain conditions you couldn't hear anybody no matter what but I think they did okay. - Jim

NotQuiteAWriter9 karma

Is there a stunt that you've wanted to perform but haven't yet had the resources to do it?

LElige22 karma

Yeah there is actually. The pipe ramp tanker truck. With the truck and the trailer. I want to jackknife the trailer and at the same time piperamp the truck so that the truck is in the air while the trailer is rolling along after it. With a big explosion in the back of course. - Jim

wet-paint8 karma

What are your daily drivers?

LElige16 karma

Jim's is a Chevy Silverado. Harry's is a Ford F-150 And mine is a Chevy Camaro

Hamilton_sol7 karma

Are there certain vehicles that are especially hard to pull stunts off with? If so, why .

LElige13 karma

Stock vehicles. Most car stunts you see typically involve heavy use of the e-brake. Unmodified vehicles can have especially wimpy e-brakes. Modern cars now tend to not have a mechanical e-brake at all, opting for a switch or button to activate the e-brake. Older cars with rear drum brakes tend to be the easiest as they typically work great with no modifications at all.

CharlieDogist3 karma

How would you recommend someone get into the business?

Aside from the obvious things like breaking bones/getting injured, what's an unexpected downside to stunt work?

LElige5 karma

Its all networking. Get on set or go to sets and hustle the stunt coordinators. Do everything you can to stay relevant in their mind and if you're good at what you do, you'll eventually get those jobs.

An unexpected downside is long hours of boredom. Pretty much any film set is like that. "Hurry up and wait" is a pretty common saying. Personally I just got a Nintendo switch and it really cuts down on the boredom of set.

fourleafclover133 karma

What is your first thought when things go wrong, when they do? Also is there anything you would not do?

LElige6 karma

I dont want to do water stunts because a good friend of mine got killed doing it. I dont like water stunts as a result of that. - Harry

Entity172 karma

Do you find the pay worth the risk that you take on?

Granted it's not about the pay, but do you believe it is worth it?

thanks for making movies awesome. (Unless Tom Cruise kept stealing your stunts)

LElige2 karma

Yeah. At the end of the day, its just really a fun job. We all really enjoy the job knowing full well the risks it entails.

harry_penis2 karma

How do you become a stuntman? I am very interested in the profession. Thank you.

LElige8 karma

Be well rounded in multiple disciplines. Such as gymnastics, firearms, falls, stunt driving, fighting,etc. Usually people specialize in something, but the more well rounded you are, the more jobs are available to you. Then its a matter of networking, networking, and more networking. Convincing stunt coordinators to let you do reckless stuff around very expensive equipment on very expensive time is the hardest part. Personally I do my networking through background acting. But anything that gets you on set to meet and talk to stunt performers is good.

fixxlevy1 karma

What was the actual bike used to make the bat bike?

LElige2 karma

It was a custom made bike. It had its own mechanical crew and everything. We weren't allowed to touch the thing. I didnt even put a leg over it. - Harry

Who drove the bike?

I cant remember his name. Some french guy. Weird guy but he was cool. - Harry

IHateHappinessAndYou1 karma

Have you seen the Mythbusters drifting episode? If so, whats your stance on it.

tl;dr they wanted to know if drifting was faster than normal driving. seems like that a mix of the two would be ebst?

LElige1 karma

I love the myth busters. Its been a while since I saw that particular episode though. But basically it depends on the surface and the setup of the vehicle. In most situations , drifting is absolutely slower than not. If your tires are sliding then you're shedding momentum, losing lateral grip, and you're losing the ability to put all your power into forward motion. Imagine trying to sprint around a tile house in your socks. Now imagine sprinting around with your bare feet. The more grip you have, the faster you're able to move around. Spinning tires (as you do in drifting) is an intentional loss of grip in the rear wheels so that they slide out. (Its the same principle as locking your rear wheels with the e-brake; they're moving at a different speed than the road under your vehicle is so they have less grip and no directional control.)

Now this changes on a dirt surface and/or a loose suspension setup such as you would see with rally cars. Since your tires don't have maximum grip in these situations already and you need to lose some speed to make it around the corner, you can use that loss of momentum from drifting AS your speed change therefor limiting the amount of time and distance you use slowing the car down. Now I probably explained that poorly, but I'm much more familiar with track driving than I am with rally driving.

iamawordofscience1 karma

Hi guys, I guess my question is how did you become stunt performers? How did you choose or realized this is what you wanted to do?

Edit: better phrasing, ESL

LElige7 karma

Ill edit this when tomorrow when I get Jim and Harry's answer. But I just had a strong passion for driving and a love for everything about the film industry. One day it kinda just clicked I could combine the two passions and I decided to give it my all being a stunt driver. Then after hanging out with all these cool talented people, being a full on stunt performer seemed like it'd be pretty cool as well.

codyd911 karma

For Jim and Harry, what is the most elaborate stunt you've done? (most people/elements involved at once)

LElige1 karma

I really wanted to get you an answer from them! They started getting annoyed with me asking so many questions (I don't think they realized it would get so popular even though I warned them) but I will still try to get you an answer when I see Harry again on Wednesday.

painterface1 karma

Do you not like it when the star of the movie does their own stunts? What’s your opinions on that?

LElige2 karma

Well 1 theyre idiots. But 2 sometimes they need to do their own stunts. If its a fight scene or something intimate then they need to use the real actor. But as for the real stunts car crashes, falls, etc. , production won't even let the actor do it. If an actor injures them self, production gets put on hold for weeks or months because of it and no production wants to do that. - Jim

Yeah like when Tom Cruze broke his foot last year or something, everybody was out of work for weeks. -Harry

shadowbannedkiwi1 karma

Wanna stunt fight?

LElige1 karma

I do yes

countvoncastro1 karma

Is the increase in Drifting professionals taking a large chunk out of your income? Has the last 2 years growth in Hollywood countered this, if the answer was yes?

LElige2 karma

I wouldn't say so. Drifting and stunt driving are still pretty different. A lot of stunt drivers don't know how to drift, and a lot of drifters don't know how to do the stunt maneuvers or how to work with the camera. If a production called for a drifting heavy scene then they'd seek out a professional drifter anyways.

CassandraVindicated1 karma

Do you all have side gigs as wheelmen for bank robberies? If not, would that be a job that you were well suited for?

LElige2 karma

Dude I would kill to be like Baby from baby driver.

TreeLovesHugs1 karma

How does one become a stuntperson? Is there a school for it for some of these things...or? I highly doubt that "hey! I was in a wreck, so now I know how to do that thing!" is something you can put on a resume. I want to say there's a stunt ranch in Austin, TX - is that a valid way of going about things?

LElige2 karma

There are a few schools. For stunts, rigging, driving, and just about any other skill you'd use as a stunt person. Ive heard great things about a stunt university type thing in Seattle. When it comes to actually getting the jobs, as with pretty much any job in the film industry, it comes down to networking. You have to get in stunt coordinators faces and stay in there faces in hopes that they call you up out of the blue one day to double some actor or fill in for a stunt person last minute. Yeah car wrecks are one of those " you need to have experience wrecking a car" to get the job. But you cant get experience if no one ever lets you wreck a car without experience.

HereticalSkeptic-8 karma

How do you feel about risking your lives to amuse a bunch of snotty nosed, pimply teenagers who just want to see lots of 'splosions and guns and shit'? If you end up paralyzed or otherwise maimed, will you feel it was a worthwhile scarifice? (I'm gonna leave that last typo there.)

LElige12 karma

The majority of stunt people Ive met tend to just enjoy doing stunts. They dont really care who else amused by their stunts, they're just amused by it themselves. Everyone in the industry knows the risks and would pretty much be doing these risky adrenaline junky type things whether they were paid or not.