The long-awaited Oscar night is nearly here for 2018! As always, good luck to all the nominees. However, as usual, I really find it sad that we have to overlook a category for stunt coordinators, especially with so many nominated films over the years being action driven. It still seems crazy to me that this debate continues.
Aside from the occasional Technical or Honorary award, which is presented low-key but great, how much cooler and more interesting would it be to have creative, gutsy geniuses as part of the main ceremony?! Imagine sitting back to watch Vic Armstrong get his Technical Achievement Award for his Fan Descender invention or Hal Needham (pictured below) and his Scientific and Engineering Award for designing and developing the Shotmaker Elite camera car and crane, explaining how it all works and showing a reel of jaw-dropping action footage which served that Best Picture nomination. Imagine risking life and limb and still creating hardware and gadgetry on set that changes the way films are made. This is a huge contribution to not only action filmmaking but cinema in general.
Like Jackie Chan with his recent “Honorary” award (for a lifelong career of world-class filmmaking), at least these guys received something, some nod or acknowledgment. Still, for me, just adding labels like “Technical” or “Scientific” before “Award” sounds like a half-measure towards what should be a full integrated award in front of crowds and cameras. A “Best Action Design” award, which has been discussed by industry veterans like Jack Gill, championing this cause, makes perfect sense. In fact, if you’d like to know Jack’s top picks for hypothetical Oscar inclusion, check them out here.
Needless to say I created and wrote Life of Action based on this same admiration and appreciation for this discipline and hope it will change someday soon. So, like many others, I plead to the Academy to please create a category for stunt coordinators and give long overdue praise to the courageous men and women whose work is integral to a film’s very success and as valid as any other department.