It goes without saying that some of the most underappreciated contributors to the Hollywood scene are stunt performers, men and women who put their lives on the line for the sake of our entertainment. Without them, action scenes wouldn’t be anywhere near as harrowing, nor would fight scenes include those hard hits that cause you to wince with every tooth and body to hit the floor. Some of these hardworking individuals have even lost their lives for the sake of their craft, so why is it that time and again, they’re denied their own category at the Oscars? Aren’t their efforts worth celebrating? Shouldn’t the Academy recognize their skill and dedication to the art of filmmaking? Surely there’s enough time during an evening of patting each other on the back to honor their contribution to the medium, wouldn’t you say?
Recently, stunt performers in the U.S. have considered mounting an Oscars boycott on account of the Academy refusing to grant them their own category for Best Stunt Coordination. As Vulture‘s Bilge Ebiri writes after speaking with Jake Gill, a stunt coordinator known for pushing the issue for three decades, stunt coordinators are “now considering a protest at next year’s ceremony.”
“When I first approached them, they were extremely eager to help,” Gill said. “As the years went on, they got tired of me. Now it’s hard to even get a meeting.”
Gill also noted that at one point, an Academy member from a different arm was more than willing to press the matter with the organization’s top brass on Gill’s behalf. In talking about the hopeful gesture, Gill said that the motion was also rejected.
“He had a real foot in the door, and he said, ‘I think it’s a great idea, and I’m going to help in any way I can,’” Gill recalled. After their meeting, Gill said this representative was advised to tell those who desired the category to give up the ghost. “They told me, right to my face, ‘You’ve got to let it go. It’s never going to happen,’” said Gill’s inside contact.
With regard to this year’s protest, Gill is hopeful that the Academy will give their demand more consideration.
“We currently have 95 members in our group this year, and next year we will pass the 100-members mark that the Academy said was a prerequisite for a branch and possibly an Oscar category,” Gill explained to Vulture. “I had always argued that our action industry is a smaller group of individuals than the other departments and that having 100 voting members was not needed. I’ve also argued that other Oscar categories had less than 100 members when they were given an Oscar category, but I was told that I was incorrect in that assumption.”
Adding their voice to the conversation was also Stunt coordinator Janene Carleton, whose work can be seen in films like JACK REACHER and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL. While speaking with Vulture about wanting a Best Stunt Stunt Coordination category at the Oscars, Carleton noted that stunt-related staff members are among some of the most important people working on a set, especially when you consider that they oversee the safety of those acting in front of the camera. It was also noted that even actors who perform their own stunts, like Tom Cruise, benefit greatly from having a stunt coordinator at their side.
“A stunt team designs the action, rehearses it over and over again to determine what looks the coolest, what hurts the most, what’s the safest,” Carleton said. “They train the actor for months. And even if the actor does it, the double does it as well, so they can edit it together. The stunt coordinators are responsible for keeping everyone safe.”
With the demand for a Best Stunt Stunt Coordination category at the Oscars still a hot-button issue for those involved, don’t you think it’s about time that the Academy gave the matter some real consideration? In all honesty, I don’t know what the hold up is. The same can be said about recognizing motion-capture actors as well, but that’s a topic for another article altogether.
Let us know if you think stunt coordinators should receive their own Oscars honor in the comments section below.