More Stuntmen Should Be Directing Action Movies

Lights, camera, roundhouse kick!
John Wick Red

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores how stuntmen in the director’s chair were crucial to the John Wick franchise.

If you’re a fan of action movies, the idea of turning your nose up at a stuntman in the director’s chair feels pretty silly.

Y’all ever heard of Buster Keaton? Charlie Chaplin? What about Jackie Chan? Action boys the lot of ’em! Only that’s selling the true crux of the prejudice short. There’s certainly a precedent for a sort of Jack of All Trades: the director/star/producer/stunt coordinator who is a one-man cast and crew. But the same isn’t true of stunt workers who fall more into the Journeyman category.

Enter John Wick — the little indie flick that spawned a genre-reviving franchise. It’s hard to imagine studios turning down John Wick, knowing what we know now. But as the video essay below underlines, co-directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch struggled to get their film made through traditional avenues, in part because there was hesitancy about letting two second-unit stunt guys direct a feature film.

Calling Stahelski and Leitch “stunt guys” undersells how much experience these two brought to the table. And luckily for us, they believed in their ability to tell a solid story (that also happens to kick/punch/shoot all kinds of ass). All that said, here’s a video essay on how the film did get made and what the “stunt guys” can bring to the filmmaking table:

Watch “When you hire stunt guys to direct the movie”

Who made this?

This video essay on how John Wick benefited from putting stuntmen in the director’s chair is by CinemaStix, a weekly video essay channel run by U.S.-based creator Danny Boyd. You can subscribe to CinemaStix on YouTube here. And you can support Boyd on Patreon here.

More videos like this

  • For more of CinemaStix work, here’s a similarly edited video essay that highlights Heath Ledger‘s thoughts about playing the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
  • And here’s CinemaStix’s look at the how and why of when directors cast non-actors in their films.
  • One final example of CinemaStix work: a highlight reel showcasing how Sam Rockwell manages to find a way to bust a move in just about every movie he’s in.
  • I mentioned earlier that one of our best stuntmen/directors is Jackie Chan. Here’s a video essay that underlines how one of the Renaissance Man’s greatest qualities was knowing the narrative power of taking a punch.
Meg Shields: Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.