Become one professional stuntman it is a dream that embraces many guys. But it is certainly not an easy profession. It takes a lot of courage, but above all an excellent physical and also psychological preparation to juggle the dangerous scenes of the script, such as jumping from buildings, falling from a horse or a motorbike, throwing yourself into the fire and other very dangerous things.
In the USA, the Hollywood millionaire industry supports the development of the profession where the category is protected by United Stuntmen’ s Association, complete with schools recognized to become true professionals and where qualifications range from junior stunt, to professional stuntman, from assistant stunt coordinator, to safety supervisor up to the most advanced level, the stunt coordinator. The latter is the profession of Simone Belli, born in 1988, professional since 2011 with important experiences, including the latest, as a stunt coordinator, in State Of Consciousness, directed by Markus Stokes with Emile Hirsch (the protagonist of Into the Wild).
Disseminating the principles of the stunt profession is one of his goals. 2015 is the year of foundation of his first stunt group in Milan, until the foundation in 2018 in Milan of the Stunt Gym Boutique. From that moment, opportunities followed one after another: he became the only Italian teacher at CombatCon in Las Vegas, where he teaches Marvel-style acrobatic stage combat, London, New York and in Germany, where from October 2021 he will take part as Stunt Coordinator and Fight Designer on the James Bond on tour, a traveling stunt musical show.
You think of a stunt, Brad Pitt comes to mind in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Yet the reality of the facts is much less rosy. Can one in a hundred make it?
«Becoming a stuntman in Italy is not as impossible as you think, it is true that you have to move to Hollywood to make a career. As I always say, what makes the difference is the commitment you put into it, the dedication, the sacrifice, the talent and, of course, the constancy. Being a stuntman does not always have to be dangerous, I want you to know, but it is certainly a very dangerous job. I also want to teach it to adults and children who participate in my courses and who discover a different profession than usual. Working as a stuntman and stunt coordinator means first of all knowing all the safety procedures and having the necessary experience so that every move, every jump, every performance is performed with the least possible risk, limiting or eliminating the danger ».
Do you remember your first stunt experience?
“Absolutely yes. He was on the set of Rise and fall of Krays it’s mine action coordinator, which was mine at the time fight coreographer, asked me if I was able to do one dive roll on a table and fall on a dock. I told him yes, I did it, it went very well and immediately afterwards he asked me if I would be able to do a dive rolthere also on a window, and again, very convinced, I said yes. After that flight among the crystals, which went very well, he told me that I had been good but that, the next time, I should be conscious and know what I was doing. He told me that I should study because this was a stunt job and so I started attending academies ».
You studied as an actor, do you think that to become a stunt it is necessary to be one?
«I can’t say it’s necessary but I think doing it is intelligent, because I think having communication and interpretative skills able to convey what happens even as a stunt can give the opportunity to obtain more relevant roles and to have parts with a dialogue. In our academy, for example, there was an interpretation course, which I am absolutely in favor of studying. Knowledge of English is also very important, which is indispensable ».
How did you come up with the idea of opening a school?
“I needed it, I needed people to communicate with through the same language: having trained abroad and having chosen to return to Italy for love, all my fellow friends came from the United Kingdom, Sweden, the USA, Denmark and Spain. I chose to do what my teachers had taught me and to share my knowledge with others, without having to spend the same amount of money and without necessarily having to stay away from loved ones, which are very important to me. Experiences abroad are fundamental, so much so that as an academy we are building international relations, but my aim was to share knowledge with those who wanted to become a stunt in Italy (and not only in Rome) and that not only the student was educated , but that everyone knew this world and did not consider stunts to be crazy, but educated and civil professionals who work in safety ».
Why do you have to go to a school to do the stunt?
“I think it is right because there is a lack of culture. School is necessary to be educated and prepared for the disciplines and the modus operandi, because without education I don’t believe there is a profession. Once there was the apprenticeship, it was there that you learned, today there is no time, you have to run in this hectic life, so if you want to keep up with the times you have to study. In the field of stunt it is difficult to learn 15 high-level technical disciplines in a single life, so the academy gives the possibility to have them in “stunt format” because this is the goal on the set. I am not interested in a person becoming a boxing champion, I am interested in being able to act for the scene ».
Why are women a minority in this profession?
“On this, unfortunately, in Italy we are still a little behind, but we must also consider that the market is different and that many action film scripts have a male predominance, something that does not happen in the United States, where there is no shortage of the heroines, where the stuntwomen are many, even if little known ».
Any advice for those who want to start a stunt career!
“Studying and engulfing action films, being versatile and loving this job and this life, keeping the flame of passion always burning, especially when it becomes a profession”.
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