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B.C. program helps aspiring Indigenous TV and film stunt actors kick down barriers

Click to play video: 'Stunt training mentorship program gives Indigenous actors first taste of film industry' Stunt training mentorship program gives Indigenous actors first taste of film industry
A group of local TV and film stunt actors are behind an initiative to get more Indigenous men and women into the business. Jay Durant has the story. – Jun 3, 2021

A group of local TV and film stunt actors is behind an initiative to get more Indigenous men and women into the business.

A mentorship program is giving them their first taste of what it takes to succeed in a challenging industry. Aspiring stunt performers have been receiving training from some of the best in the business, hoping it is a starting point for a new career.

Click to play video: 'BIPOC women invited to train at B.C. stunt school' BIPOC women invited to train at B.C. stunt school
BIPOC women invited to train at B.C. stunt school – Jul 9, 2020

“For Indigenous people, there’s so much opportunity for us here,” said actor Aqqalu Meekis, who is hoping to add to his skills.

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Instructors are helping to push for more change in the TV and film industry.

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“For decades a lot of the Caucasian males, specifically, we’ve been painted up and we’ve been put on to the horses and into the fields and into Hollywood playing Indigenous performers, which just isn’t right,” veteran stunt performer Jesse Blue said.

Hollywood North is a hot spot for film and TV productions that are heavy on action and fight scenes. That is a big part of the training, but wire work that sends students airborne seems to have the biggest impact on students.

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“I haven’t really done the being-pulled-through-the-air thing, so that’s pretty exciting — a little bit of adrenaline there,” said Skylee Murray, one of the trainees hoping to get into the stunt business.

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The program is the first step for these students and Blue, who owns the Ancient Fire dojo in Vancouver where the training is taking place, says the path forward certainly won’t be easy.

“I’d say less than one in 100 people who try out for it make it,” he said.

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But thanks to programs like this, more doors are being kicked open.

“What’s better than watching an awesome action movie? Being in an awesome action movie,” student Marco Caffiero said.

“I told my kids I promised them one day your dad’s going to be in a Marvel movie and I stand by that. One day it will happen.”

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