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“I get to do everything we were told not to do in the second grade… I run with scissors and make loud obnoxious noises. And people pay me for it. It’s great.”
Those are the words of Teel James Glenn, who had just crashed head over heels down a staircase as a demonstration of stuntperson skills for the opening of a new school in the Bronx called Hollywood Stunts. Another man had just tumbled 35 feet off a platform after having a beer bottle smashed over his head.
The new instructional school was founded by Bob Cotter, a professional stuntman. He has performed in several movies, including “Rounders”, and in several commercials.
Cotter says that while filming stunts in New York he would routinely meet people who would ask him how they could learn more about doing stunts. So he decided to open a school, a process that was much more difficult than he imagined. He spent years searching for large enough vacant lots, only to be turned down by property owners who were concerned about liability.
But he finally found a parking lot surrounded by houses and small businesses, and has turned it into a 6,000 sqaure-foot center for people who want to learn things like armed and unarmed combat, high falls, car hits, fire gags and window penetration. He has invested about $150,000 in stunt equipment, and is paying $65,000 a year for insurance.
Posters attached to a surrounding fence announce the school. Inside, a small storage shed holds most of the equipment. A 60-foot scaffold, a trampoline, a staircase and a covered area with padded mats are spread out on the property, and the ground is padded with wood chips.
Anthony Persad, the man who had just tumbled 35 feet, says, “Performing stunts is an adrenaline rush. I like sharing the feeling with other people.” Persad has been a stuntman for five years, and he has been killed many times. As for being hit on the head with the beer bottle, he said it “felt like a soft Nerf football.”
“It’s all about concentration,” he said.
Seventeen of the 20 slots available in the first three-week program for people 18 and older have already been filled. Cotter has 17 instructors, all of whom are career stunt performers. A weekend class for boys and girls 10 to 17 years old will be offered later. Advanced classes for people who have completed the first class will focus on one individual skill at a time.
Cotter says, “We are going where no one has ever been.”
Being in the right place at the right time is how he got into the business. He said he was working as an extra on the set of a music video for the Rolling Stones in 1996 when, at the end of a long day, the director was frustrated by an actor who had been hired to take a fall. Mr Cotter asked the director if he could try. He said that if he failed, he wouldn’t ask for any money. After that successful fall, his career was launched. And now he has his own school.
source: Dalton Walker’s article in NYT Business section on 8/3/07
tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or firstname.lastname@example.org