Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I Do All My Own Stunts....

I saw a t-shirt that said this not long ago, and I think I need to own one. My stunt for the morning was getting my mental clock wonked by an hour, and arriving wayyyy too early to work; so here I blog.

Last night's IFS selection was Double Dare, a film about two women in the movie stunt industry. It features Jeannie Epper, a member of the biggest stunt-family in Hollywood whose best-known work was doubling for Lynda Carter on "Wonder Woman," and Zoe Bell, who doubled Lucy Lawless on Xena, and Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, among other things. When I was a kid, I desperately wanted to be a stuntman (gender divisions for me were indistinct then as now) and spent a lot of time practicing falling off of things and pretend-punching my friends. Sadly, a complete lack of physical talent or coordination stood in the way of this dream, and it didn't come to pass. (Some might say the fall into the penguin tank counts as a professional-level stunt, but it wasn't on purpose, and I didn't make it look good.) But I have an eye for good stuntwork and fight choreography, which probably had its birth in years of watching Epper on Wonder Woman. As I think I've said before, my fondness for Xena/Hercules is rooted partly in the writing of the early seasons and the general campy silliness of the show, but also largely a result of the complex and intricate fight choreography. This fascinates me still; so it was a real treat to finally see this film and "meet" the woman behind all the harness and wire work. Would have liked a bit more from the stunt coordinators about what goes into stunt design and prep, but really the movie was less about the mechanics of the whole thing and more about the difficulties of being a woman in what's essentially still a very male-dominated industry. It was almost painful watching Epper make phone call after phone call--"Hey, it's Jeannie. So.... You have any work for me? Anything at all? No? Well, keep me in mind..." Then again, watching the spontaneous joy-fest when Bell gets the Kill Bill job was pretty damn exhilerating--YAHOO! WAHOO! She deserves to be successful, she's fantastically talented. I look forward to seeing her work in films and TV for years to come; while I may not ever have mastered falling off of things for money, I have a great admiration for them that do it every day.