Imagine flying 145 feet in the air hanging from the outside of a helicopter trying to save a passenger in a limousine whose driver has been shot. Although this scene is from the movie “True Lies,” professional stunt coordinator Joel Kramer knows how to make it look real. To make sure that this stunt was safe, he said it took six months of planning and practicing and cost $140,000.
Kramer has been a stuntman, stunt coordinator and second-unit director for 39 years. He says, “It’s such an exciting job. I have traveled all over the world and have met so many different people.”
Some of the actors he has worked with include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, Al Pacino, Ryan Gosling and director James Cameron. Some of the movies he has worked on include “Furious 7,” “Ghostbusters II,” “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and the upcoming "Blade Runner 2049." He has been involved in almost 100 movies, not to mention TV shows.
As a kid Kramer thought that being an actor was an exciting way to make a living. After being a stuntman for a while, he realized that at a certain age his body couldn’t take all the pressures so he became a stunt coordinator. He works with directors and actors to arrange the casting and performance of the stunts.
“I broke my back during a stunt and have had a lot of tears, a new knee put in and had my ligament tendon repaired, but I love my job.”
Kramer’s advice to young kids interested in his career is, “You have to learn everything you can about martial arts, gymnastics, acrobats and diving lessons. Focus on knowing how to do many different things, not just one.” As a stunt coordinator, Kramer is looking for people who know how to do many stunts, not just one.
Kramer stressed the importance of safety. “The number one thing is safety. I want to make sure people go home at night and come back to work in the morning.”