From the "It's About Time" department: four leading stunt organizations announced on Wednesday that they are
launching a campaign in an attempt to convince the Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to create an Academy Awards category to recognize their efforts. Representatives
of the four organizations, Stunts Unlimited,
Brand X, The
Stuntmen's Association of Motion Pictures and The International
Stunt Association issued a joint statement reading:
"Stunt performers are the only faction of the movie industry that must literally risk their lives for the sake of their art. The talent and expertise that is required of a stunt coordinator to be both creative and safe is enormous and highly deserving of Academy recognition."
While various stunt groups have made efforts to be recognized by AMPAS for their contributions to the art and craft of filmmaking, they have been repeatedly rebuffed. According to the press release, industry big wigs including Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Jerry Bruckheimer, Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Douglas and Arnold Schwarzenegger have all signed a petition that Stunt Coordinators merit an award category by the Academy. Interestingly, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences awards an Emmy® for Outstanding Stunt Coordination.
If one boils things down to dollars and cents (a common methodology in Hollywood) and considers the box office gross of films that have required the skills of many stunt coordinators and performers (almost all live-action films have some stunt work), you'd quickly see that theirs is a criminally unsung profession. Of the top 20 all-time grossers (not adjusted for inflation) only Titanic, Shrek 2, E.T., Finding Nemo, Forrest Gump and The Lion King would not be considered pictures heavy on the stunts. (I am sure a case could be made for Titanic and Gump being stunt-heavy, but I've blocked those particular bits of…cinema, from my mind.)
For another example of how silly it is that these brave men and women receive no statuette, consider the following two examples: Two of the five Oscar® nominations received by 2003's Pirates of the Caribbean were for sound editing and makeup. Not to take anything away from the skilled artisans who performed those tasks, but what do you remember more from that film, Jack Sparrow's spirited escape from the soldiers or the makeup? How about The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers? The best sound editing (fantastic, to be sure) or Legolas sliding down the stairs of Helm's Deep on his shield? The stunt coordinator on those two films? George Marshall Ruge. I wager almost no one reading this knows his name, but you sure know the films he's worked on, including: All three Lord of the Rings flicks, Oceans 11, A Perfect Storm, The Mask of Zorro, Lethal Weapon 4 and many more.
To become a part of the petition and add your name in support of stunt men and women, please go to www.StuntsUnlimited.com and click the "Academy Petition" button.