Once again, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences formally declined to create an Oscar category to recognize stunt coordinators last year.
The push has been 20 years in the making without much to show for it. Beaufort International Film Festival director Ron Tucker read about the effort and decided to do something about it.
"If the Oscars won't recognize stunt coordinators, then maybe the Beaufort film festival should," he said.
Stuntman Cal Johnson will receive the Jean Ribaut Award for Excellence in Stunt Coordination. The Charleston resident is a 20-year veteran of the stunt business. He's served as a double for Matt Damon, Robert Duvall, William H. Macy and more. He's coordinated stunts in "Hannibal," "The Notebook" and more than 250 other films and television series. He currently works on the A&E series "Coma," "Army Wives" on Lifetime and the Showtime series "Homeland."
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Question. How did you get into stunts?
Answer. I used to train animals for many years in marine parks. I met a few producers and stunt people while I was doing the live shows. I went out to L.A. to work in film and television.
Q. What type of background do you need to get into stunt work?
A. I've got a lot of athletic background. I was a martial artist, a gymnast, a high diver. Any sports thing transferred over to stunts in films. But it's become so specialized these days -- motorcylists, martial artists, car stunt drivers.
Q. Looking back, are there any projects you're particularly proud of?
A. It's like the candy bar on the shelf; they all look good. "The Patriot" comes to mind; it's probably as close to an epic that I'll work on with 1,000 people on the battlefield and things like that. "Hannibal" was pretty cool. I was the stunt coordinator in that, also did some stunts and acting work. Anthony Hopkins was great to work with.
Q. Ever have anything major go wrong?
A. Accidents do happen. You just regroup and move on. I've only had a few broken bones. Got burned here and there. But compared to friends who've been paralyzed, I figure I'm doing pretty good.
Q. What did your parents think when you told them you were becoming a stuntman?
A. My mom thought it was pretty cool. My dad was a bit more conservative. He'd prefer that I would have had a back-up profession, like welding. Once he came to the set on "Die Hard" and "The Notebook" and a few other places, he got to really see what I do for a living. I think he could appreciate it a bit more.