Screeching tires. The hero's car outrunning the bad guys. Even a good old-fashioned police chase. If you're a fan of action movies, you've no doubt seen the job of a stunt driver. It's his or her job to make those heart-pounding scenes look effortless, all while performing maneuvers with complete precision and control.
If you live in Georgia and have dreamt about getting behind the wheel and learning how all those stunts are done, you've finally got your chance. Bobby Ore Motorsports, a professional stunt driving school out of Sebring, Florida, recently started offering stunt driving classes at Atlanta Motorsports Park in Dawsonville, Georgia. The classes range from a 2-day stunt driving school for those who simply want to learn the basics and become a better, safer driver, to a 3-day school for those who want to take the first step toward becoming a professional stunt driver.
During the 3-day class, students learn the fundamentals of stunt driving, such as performing a 180, sliding 90s and reverse 180 on mark. Although the first day is spent primarily in the classroom, the second two days provide in-car training with access to a stunt driving course. Bobby Ore Motorsports also offers an advanced stunt driving school, which provides further training in high-speed driving and maneuvers.
How to become a stunt driver
The road (pun intended) to becoming a stunt driver is a long and winding one. Although Bobby Ore Motorsports gives you the foundation to help you get started, it's still a tough industry to get into. Roslyn, a spokesperson for the school says the competition is high and students who want to work as stunt drivers have to really put themselves out there to get noticed. She suggests networking whenever possible, learning everything about stunt driving that you can, and watching for jobs that are available in the Georgia area.
What you need to know
Since professional stunt drivers are required to join the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), which is the actor's union, you will find that you have to get work within the industry to find work within the industry. In other words, you can't join SAG-AFTRA without either proof of SAG-AFTRA employment or by working for an affiliated union. To meet this qualification, most stunt drivers initially begin by working as background drivers, or rather, they are the extras in other vehicles that appear in driving scenes. Stunt drivers also often get their start by driving cars in commercials or piloting the cars that are photographed for automobile advertisements.
Even though you want to work as a driver and not actually as an actor, you will still need a headshot to give to potential employers when you apply or audition for this type of work. Your headshot may actually even find you work, since production companies often want certain body-types to fill rolls as extras or even as a double for the actor. As an example, if a production company is shooting a commercial that has a tall dark-haired actor in a business suit getting into a car and speeding away, the production company may look to hire a stunt driver that is similar in appearance to the actor, so that they appear as the same person.
What it pays
Although a professional stunt driver can make $1,000 or more per day, a background driver's pay is typically much less and the amount often varies. Average pay is generally somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 per day for drivers working as extras, but this may vary depending on the amount of time you are on the set and what you are doing in the scene they are filming.