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Spotlight: Adam Kirley, FXhome's resident stuntman

Posted: Tue, 17th Aug 2004, 4:29pm

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Simon K Jones

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Stunts. Where would we be without stunts?

Imagine Stagecoach without the astonishing horse-leaping sequence; The Spy Who Loved Me without Bond skiing off the mountain; Raiders of the Lost Ark without the truck chase; Terminator 2 without the T-1000 riding out of the office window onto the helicopter - without stuntmen the action genre simply would not exist.

What you may not have realised is that we have a professional stuntman in our midst right here at FXhome, going by the name of Flameboy - aka Adam Kirley.

A quick glance at his IMDB resume reveals an already rather impressive back catalogue, from The Mummy Returns via James Bond to the recent Thunderbirds. Coming in 2005 is a movie that Adam has been working on for the last few months and which has already generated several pages of salivating discussion in the forum - Batman Begins.

Origins of a stuntman
Like most of us, Adam had wanted to be a stuntman ever since he was a kid. "I was a child of the 80s," he explains. "Most of the TV shows that I watched had loads of action in them. My favourites were The A-Team, Knight Rider, Street Hawk and the Dukes of Hazzard. With this as my education I don't think I could have been anything else."

Also like most of us, he had parents and teachers telling him that it simply wasn't possible, that it wasn't a good career path. Rather than being discouraged, he started to look at alternate routes. "I became interested in special effects," he recalls, "mainly pyrotechnics: I just wanted to blow things up - in a good way!"

Having applied with no luck to several stunt companies, Adam decided that he needed a foot in the door before anyone would take him seriously. "I heard about a job on a travelling stunt show that was touring the country," says Adam, "and thought I might gain some experience if I worked with them, so I applied for a job and I got it. I was 17 years old, touring the country on a stunt show."

A month into the show, the Human Torch had an unfortunate accident that left him badly burned. Given the circumstances, finding a replacement proved understandably difficult - when potentials found out what had happened to the previous performer, they hastily changed their minds.

Adam, not being your average person, "thought it would be a laugh" and stepped up to the challenge. That very night he blazed before a 3000-strong crowd as the Human Torch and it made him even more determined to become a fully-fledged stuntman. "It was the most amazing experience and that's when I really knew what I wanted to do!"

In between his busy schedule that involves flying all over the world and indulging in all kinds of derring-do for our cinematic enjoyment, Adam managed to find the time to sit down and answer a few of our questions.

What's the best way to get into the business?
The only advice that I can give people wanting to get involved in stunt work is that you have to be sure that's what you want to do. It's not a profession you can be half-hearted about - it's very competitive.

But if you are determined enough it's the best job in the world.

What kind of training is involved?
I have to do a lot of training. I do mainly gymnastics for spatial awareness, also martial arts fighting is a big part of the job. I also have to do a lot of driving and practise on special stunt equipment. It is never-ending, as you can never be too fit or talented enough - there is always someone else fighting to get where you are.

What advice would you give to filmmakers that want to include stunts in their films?
The main thing is be careful. It is obviously very dangerous - I have seen some hideous injuries to people that are doing what you would think are very easy jobs. Don't try to do anything that you are unsure of - that's when accidents happen.

What stunts are you most proud of?
I am proud of most of the work I do. I think the stunt I enjoyed performing the most was a full burn in a film called The Uprising.

I was playing a German soldier and my step-father was playing a Jewish man. A shop window gets blasted by a flame-thrower and my step-father runs out on fire, grabs hold of me and we both go up in flames and die. I was proud of this stunt because I got to work with my step father and the stunt looked awesome as well.

Stuntmen rarely get focused upon in documentaries and behind-the-scenes information. Why do you think that is?
I suppose one of the main reasons it's not shown on film or as an extra is it demotes the actors who are supposed to be playing the role. It spoils the fantasy of the explosion and character. If an actor is supposed to be indestructable, then revealing it's not him would be like a magician revealing his tricks. I guess we are the unsung heroes of film - hopefully that'll soon change and we'll start getting some recognition on the DVD.

What does the filmmaking process involve for a stuntman?
Usually on a film you have a 1st unit director (main director) and 2nd unit director (2nd unit being the action director). 2nd unit also shoots all the stunts and basically directs via the storyboards. The stunt co-ordinator will then take over from there. Everything is all overseen by the 2nd unit director, but ultimately it's the stunt co-ordinator that does the dangerous shots.

Any particular people you have worked with that deserve a mention?
Actors it would have to be Angelina (Jolie, aka Miss Lara Croft), she was such a chilled out nice person who thinks of other people. Dedicated to the job at hand and not afraid of doing some of her own action.

Chris (Batman director) Nolan is a bit of a megalomaniac! Normally the main director would concentrate on mainly the acting and storytelling, but Nolan wanted to shoot everything and that's not really heard of in feature films. A special kinda guy.

What can you tell us about Batman Begins? Is it going to put the Batman films back on track?
The Big Question - is Batman going to be any good?

The concept of the new Batman film is that they are forgetting that there have already been five other movies. They are starting over again fresh. This is the first Batman: this is Batman!

It looks awesome so far - great action, a new style for Batman. It's far more raw. And it's a prequel, so it has a lot to say and you will see Bruce Wayne in a completely different way in this film.

I also saw a post on FXhome about the Batmobile. The reason it looks the way it does will make sense when you see it in action!

What can we look forward to seeing you in next?
This year I spent four months in Morocco on a film called Sahara, doubling an actor called Steve Zahn, which should be out in spring 2005. For Thunderbirds, which is out now, I doubled the actor Lex Shrapnel. I am currently working on the new Batman film that is shooting in England.


Definitely some exciting films to look forward to - when you see Batman Begins next year, don't forget that right in the thick of the action is an FXhomer!

However, before Batman Begins you'll see him in a project right here at FXhome, as he is currently performing stunt duties on a new film that he is also producing. Directed by Joby 'er-no' Stephens (so far known only for his debut Crawling Space) and co-produced by Matt 'Hybrid-Halo' Plummer, this is one that we'll no doubt be hearing more about soon enough!
The Gallery
Video clips:
Tomb Raider rehearsals
Diving to safety
Vehicle stunts
The Uprising
Orion jumps
Rehearsals

On location for Sahara

On fire with Steve
Griffin in The Uprising

Doubling McConaughey
on the side of a train
in Sahara

Doubling Steve Zahn
for Sahara

Away from the
Sahara set

Sahara wrap party
with Penelope Cruz,
Breck Eisner and
Matthew McConaughey
Posted: Tue, 17th Aug 2004, 4:40pm

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Pooky

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Wow cool stuff. Can't wait for Batman Begins wink
Posted: Tue, 17th Aug 2004, 5:04pm

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Andreas

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Suprising, we actully have our own superman here!
Posted: Tue, 17th Aug 2004, 5:09pm

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Serpent

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Nice. Strange music on the orion jump video. But nice.
Posted: Tue, 17th Aug 2004, 5:40pm

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ssjaaron

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hey those clips were awsome,
hey and fxhome if you dont see me editing movies, acting,directing,producting in film, then look in stunts, that has always been a dream of mine, is to be a stunt guy.
peace out
Posted: Tue, 17th Aug 2004, 11:40pm

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Aculag

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Hmm... Interesting. I've not ever seen this person post here. Oh well I guess. Stunts are cool.

Edit: Also, Penelope Cruz.

Last edited Tue, 17th Aug 2004, 11:50pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Tue, 17th Aug 2004, 11:46pm

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AndrewtheActorMan

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I want me a soundstage of wires and such

Andrew biggrin
Posted: Wed, 18th Aug 2004, 12:25am

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Evman

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Aculag wrote:


Edit: Also, Penelope Cruz.
hmmm... yeah.... *dreams*
Posted: Wed, 18th Aug 2004, 12:57am

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Evman

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yeah, i have never seen him post around here either...
Posted: Wed, 18th Aug 2004, 1:45am

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Hybrid-Halo

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evman101 wrote:

yeah, i have never seen him post around here either...
Adam's a regular visit to the forums, but normally to read others opinions than to post his own. I guess he has no real need, or often time to.

The guy's a talented stuntman and a top guy to boot, I honestly don't see how frequently he posts alters any of that.

the site wrote:

flameboy
Force 400
Date Joined 28th Sep 2002
(1 year ago)
Watching the videos has seriously impressed me, and personally I'm honoured to be filming with such a talented, professional stuntman. Myself and er-no are certainly extremely lucky. Even if he does drive like a maniac... wink
Posted: Wed, 18th Aug 2004, 9:36am

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billy3d

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oh oh cool you know matrials art, taiekwando, whou-shou stufff?? cool biggrin
Good for you dude!!!! Keep it up.
Posted: Wed, 18th Aug 2004, 11:18am

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Joshua Davies

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Top guy...

Adam generously offered to help out with the promo shoot last year. At the time we were in a mad rush and had to turn him down (really wish we didn't have to but insurances and stuff was all sorted).

I really hope we can work together in the future and between takes he can tell me all about Angelina Jolie..... wink
Posted: Wed, 18th Aug 2004, 11:35am

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Simon K Jones

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Hybrid-Halo wrote:

evman101 wrote:

yeah, i have never seen him post around here either...
Adam's a regular visit to the forums, but normally to read others opinions than to post his own. I guess he has no real need, or often time to.
Indeed...people don't seem to realise that the regular posters at FXhome are just the tip of the iceberg. The majority of people are 'lurkers' - who read the forums just as regularly as anyone else, but don't necessarily post to them. Doesn't make them any less of an FXhomer.

As schwar says, Adam was very keen to help us out on the promo video for the new G6 apps, but circumstances unfortunately didn't work out. We are determined to work with him in future, though, one way or another. smile

Everyone will no doubt be seeing more of him soon, due to his joint project with er-no and Hybrid. Adam's a great guy, and a testament to where dedication and hard work can take you.
Posted: Wed, 18th Aug 2004, 3:17pm

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Evman

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cool. great work adam. can't wait to see Batman Begins. I'll look for you! wink
Posted: Wed, 18th Aug 2004, 3:39pm

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er-no

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Great spotlight with some rather cool answers. Interesting point on why stunts aren't shown too much on DVD's etc - I guess it's true that it'd somehow ruin the magic and take away a lot of the main actors kudos.
Posted: Wed, 18th Aug 2004, 3:50pm

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Mellifluous

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I agree. They always focus on the actor, & always make a point of emphasising if the actors did a lot of their own stunts.
Posted: Wed, 18th Aug 2004, 3:52pm

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Simon K Jones

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The one exception I can think of (other than the godawful shows on Channel 5 etc about "the world's greatest stunts ever omg!!!!1!") is in the Two Towers 4-DVD set. That has a really nice documentary focusing specifically on the stunt team that worked on the Helms Deep sequence. It's well worth a look, and a cool tribute to a part of the crew that is normally unfairly overlooked.
Posted: Wed, 18th Aug 2004, 4:06pm

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Aculag

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Sorry to back this up or whatever... I realize that most people here don't post, but usually for a spotlight, the person is someone who most people are familiar with. This one just came out of nowhere, that's all.

Last edited Wed, 18th Aug 2004, 4:16pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Wed, 18th Aug 2004, 4:10pm

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er-no

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Aculag wrote:

Sorry to back this up or whatever... I realize that most people here don't post, but usually for a spotlight, the person is someone who most people are familiar with. This one just came out of nowhere.
I think you'll find quite a few people from fxhome are familar with Adam. He did help b4uask on a couple of his Stargate films and all the users who were filming that day will know of him well.
Posted: Wed, 18th Aug 2004, 4:10pm

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Simon K Jones

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Aculag wrote:

This one just came out of nowhere.
Adam likes to keep to the shadows. He's more dangerous that way.

Watch your back.
Posted: Wed, 18th Aug 2004, 4:17pm

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Aculag

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I keep a knife under my pillow.
Posted: Wed, 18th Aug 2004, 4:47pm

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MrShmoe

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Nice stunts!
Posted: Wed, 18th Aug 2004, 5:04pm

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aenigma

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Nice spotlight. Thanks to guys like you (don’t want to forget the ladies also) we have action movies.
Posted: Wed, 18th Aug 2004, 5:05pm

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Mellifluous

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I have a feeling that flameboy is going to get inundated with PM's now. Bad Tarn!
Posted: Wed, 18th Aug 2004, 9:09pm

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CoolKabe

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Aculag wrote:

I keep a knife under my pillow.
I'm not sure if it's on purpose, but is that a Tomb Raider reference? (Both Laura Croft and Agelina Jolie do that, oddly...)

-Adam twisted
Posted: Wed, 18th Aug 2004, 10:10pm

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Hybrid-Halo

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Tarn wrote:

Aculag wrote:

This one just came out of nowhere.
Adam likes to keep to the shadows. He's more dangerous that way.

Watch your back.
There's a brilliant amount of truth in that statement, which I'm not totally sure you're aware of.

I think Aculag is in a bit of a "Do not Dull my Triumph" phase. Sure man, you got a spotlight too but not because you post on everything, but because you have created plenty of amusing cinema footage and were genuinely interesting to read about. The only criteria I think that is needed for a spotlight is that it should be interesting. And every single spotlight so far has been.

Just watched through some more of the videos, cool stuff.
Posted: Thu, 19th Aug 2004, 6:53am

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b4uask30male

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I was lucky enough to have adam in 2 of my stargate films ( ep 2 & 3 )
Not only did he turn up on time, he didn't moan or grumble ( unlike most of my cast )
And the one thing missing from your spotlight is that he is a DAMM nice guy.
Posted: Thu, 19th Aug 2004, 7:22am

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Aculag

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Hybrid-Halo wrote:

I think Aculag is in a bit of a "Do not Dull my Triumph" phase. Sure man, you got a spotlight too but not because you post on everything, but because you have created plenty of amusing cinema footage and were genuinely interesting to read about. The only criteria I think that is needed for a spotlight is that it should be interesting. And every single spotlight so far has been.

Just watched through some more of the videos, cool stuff.
Actually, that's not it at all. Just because I've never personally heard of this person before doesn't mean I think he's trying to steal some kind of internet fame from me.

I find all spotlights interesting, and I look forward to new ones, and I agree that the criteria should be that they're interesting, but it had just occurred to me that I didn't remember seeing a spotlight on someone who I had never heard of before.

Ok, I'm shutting up now. I don't want to use this space to argue, or try to explain myself or anything.

STUNTS!
Posted: Fri, 20th Aug 2004, 6:40pm

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mod_007

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Those videos were soo intense! Amazing stuff, I wanna see more of these! and he was a stuntman for a Bond movie! That's soo cool!
Posted: Fri, 20th Aug 2004, 11:06pm

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er-no

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Oh yeah! Bond stuff too.

Damn.
Posted: Thu, 26th Aug 2004, 10:01pm

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Two Gunned Saint

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Just checked through his IMDB filmography and there's a Hong Kong movie by Ringo Lam starring Simon Yam, that's quite possibly the coolest film a person could be involved in. Simon Yam is the Hong Kong James Bond and one of my favourite actors.

Someone who was in a Bond movie done films with Angelina Jolie and Simon Yam has got to be one of the luckiest people around.
Posted: Thu, 26th Aug 2004, 10:57pm

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Atom

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oo
Posted: Thu, 26th Aug 2004, 10:59pm

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ben3308

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http://fxhome.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=14929&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

Touche. biggrin

EDIT: Those two posts by atom would be my computer going crazy with my browser and somehow posting messages.
Posted: Wed, 1st Sep 2004, 5:16pm

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ajjax44

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That's an inspiring story, man. I was already chomping at the bit to move to LA and try my hand at the big leagues....after reading this - I wanna buy the Times and start lookin' at the real estate section right now... I don't aspire to be a stunt man - but it's still cool to hear that it is a reachable feat to get a job in the film industry if you work more than hard enough and stay on top of your game. Makes you feel all warm and tingly inside. Anyway, good job once again Tarn. To Adam - congratulations on your success so far - good luck in the future. Burn baby burn.

Sincerely,
AJ Rickert-Epstein