Don't Try This at Home: Daredevils and Thrill Seekers
Ever seen a character do something really dangerous in a movie and thought, “How did they do that?” What about those magicians who lock themselves in chests and throw away the key, giving themselves only minutes to get out before they run out of air? For some daredevils, the risk is very real. But for others, it’s all about the performance. This week, we’ll explore how actors, stunt performers, and magicians can make our hearts race with just the illusion of danger.
what you’ll need
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What kinds of skills do stunt performers need to develop and how do they learn to do their jobs?
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Stunts in Silence
Born in 1895, Buster Keaton was one of the very first star actors and directors—and one of the first stunt performers. Unlike many actors today, he did all of his stunts himself, including a famous scene where the entire front of a house narrowly misses falling on top of him. Get a look at some of Keaton’s most daring moments in this short video.
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How do stunts work in the movies? Do stunt performers ever get hurt? Read up on the spectacular world of stunts in this article from Wonderopolis.
Behind the Scenes of Spider-Man’s Stunts
Without stunt work, the Spider-Man movies would crawl rather than leap, swing, and skitter. How do they do it? Sure, computer graphics play a big role, but so does old-school stunt work. See how the scenes in Spider-Man: Far from Home were filmed in this video from Voyage.
Putting the Work in Stunt Work
You might think that all you need to do stunts is a strong body and a willingness to do crazy things. But like all professionals, stunt performers spend huge amounts of time training and practicing. Knowing how to fall down, how to crash through a real wall, and how to throw a fake punch are all part of the job. In this video, you’ll see how actors in movies like The Matrix train for their roles at The Academy of Movement Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles, California.
Going Up (Way Up) with David Blaine
Magician David Blaine has made a name for himself doing death-defying tricks, like being buried alive for 7 days. His latest feat? Grabbing on to a jumbo-sized bunch of balloons and sailing more than 20,000 feet into the air. See how he did it and ride along with him in this 15 minute video from YouTube Originals.
Psyched about stunts? Watch Hollywood stuntwoman and actress Alicia Vela-Bailey walk through some of her favorite scenes and explain how they were filmed in this 20 minute video from Vanity Fair.
For younger explorers
Archie the Daredevil Penguin
Archie needs to get over the cold water to get to his friends’ fish fry. Luckily, he’s a daredevil penguin who’s not afraid of anything. Or is he? Find out in this read-aloud by Brendan Reads Books.
Design your own action scene!
Car chases. Karate fights. Dramatic leaps from burning buildings. These are all where stunt scenes happen in the movies. Today, you’ll design a stunt scene of your own. Think of it as one piece of a larger movie, like the part where the explorer somersaults into the spooky cave, puts back the stolen treasure, and runs out before the entryway falls in. Draw your scene, or write it out (or, if you like comics, make a comic strip version!). What’s the story about? Who’s the hero? What kind of stunt training would an actor playing the hero need? It’s all up to you, it just has to be awesome.
Learn How to Fall Down (Yes, Seriously)
That might sound silly, but learning how to fall down safely is one of the most important parts of being a stunt performer. It also comes in handy for the rest of us, when we do daring things like tripping over stuff on the floor. Follow along with this video to learn how to fall down safely, then practice in an open and safe place at home. Press pause along the way while you master the moves!