Tag Archives: stunt

Inspiring travel destinations of a professional stuntman

2016-03-20

Stuntmen are admired by all movie lovers, but they rarely step into the spotlight and talk about their work. Tung Bui is a Finnish stunt actor and coordinator who has performed in many movies, commercials and in one multimedia book. He is specialized in martial arts and loves to travel. Now, he talks about his film work and travels.
Tung Bui, stuntman
You are the lead character in the video segments produced for the book Stunts, Scenes and Safety. What other film work have you done lately?
I was the fight coordinator in a short film “Maartin”, and in a feature film “Look of a Killer” (original title “Tappajan Näköinen Mies”) starring Samuli Edelman. The films were directed by Joel Rahkonen, and Lauri Nurkse, respectively. Maartin was broadcast on nationwide television network, and the feature film premiered at cinemas.

Which cities have inspired you in your work as a stunt professional?
1. Taipei, Taiwan
2. Hong Kong, China
3. Paris, France
4. Tromsø, Norway
5. Lisbon, Portugal

Taipei, Taiwan

a temple in Taipei, Taiwan
What stuntwork related experiences you have had in the Taipei?
I trained in Taipei with a local Tai Chi master. His skills were superb, but even more impressive was his humility. When he wasn’t coaching us, he looked like any other near 70-year old Taiwanese man. Despite his age, he was fast and strong. Only a person with a long background in Oriental martial arts could sense the master’s skill level where most people could only see an old gentleman.

His humility reminded me of my work: as stuntmen our main purpose is to make the person who we stunt look as good as possible. We have succeeded when the audience believes the actor did his/her own stunts. We put tremendous amount of time, energy and effort to hone our physical and mental skills to perfection, but audience only sees a few seconds in a movie scene.

Which movies do you think of when you visit Taipei?
Ang Lee is a Taiwanese film director, hence his films come to my mind. Internationally he is known for the films “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “Brokeback Mountain”, and “Life of Pi”, just to mention a few.

What is your favorite food in Taipei?
A street food called Da Ji Pai has become my definite favorite. It’s a piece of fried chicken breast that is cut in layers to make it giant size steak. Then they marinade and fry it and add a mix of spices. It is eaten with hands like a hamburger. Here is a video that shows how it is prepared.

What is your favorite place in Taipei?
Yangmingshan National Park became important to me because it was one of the few places I could be close to nature, and enjoy its peacefulness. Taipei metropolitan area has over 7 million inhabitants. At the end of 2014, the population density was 9,942 people per square kilometer, compared to my home town Helsinki where it is 2,927.

What would you recommend travelers to do in Taipei?
Taiwanese uphold the traditional Chinese culture. Descendants of various dynasties live there, so the cultural heritage is very rich. Visit the National Palace Museum to see the Chinese treasures. It’s free to visit the temples in Taiwan. Locals use their services frequently, often they ask guidance from the gods, saints and their ancestors. Taipei 101 building is an engineering miracle that portrays the Taiwanese mentality for superior quality and continuous development. It is one of the highest buildings in the world, yet it is built on an island that is hit by frequent earthquakes and typhoons. Night markets are open every evening, and the busiest time is after 11pm. Tourists might buy souvenirs and other things at night markets, but locals mainly spend their money on street food.

Hong Kong, China

hong kong back alley
What stuntwork related experiences you have in Hong Kong?
I visited the Bruce Lee’s statue. There’s also a little known Bruce Lee memorial place on top of a car park building. Hong Kong cinema is familiar to all stunt people because of the martial arts legends, such as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Donnie Yen.
Which movies you think of when you visit Hong Kong?
Jackie Chan’s films are mainly produced in Hong Kong , thus his films such as Police Story, and Drunken Master come to my mind. The language in Hong Kong is Cantonese, whereas the rest of the China speaks Mandarin. Jackie Chan’s Mandarin isn’t that fluent, hence if he acts in a film that is in Mandarin, he may have someone else to speak his lines.

What is your favorite food in the city?
Hong Kong style made steamed dumplings served in bamboo boxes.

What is your favorite place in Hong Kong?
During my last visit, there was one restaurant with one Michelin star. It was difficult to get a table there for dinner, and the prices were steep. Fortunately, during the daytime they served lunch: no need to make a table reservation, and the food was the same, but priced reasonably. It was the only restaurant that I visited twice during my journey.

What would you recommend travelers to do in the city?
Eat the local Cantonese dishes. Go to the cinema to see Chinese-Hong Kong films. Most of them are not shown in the Western cinemas.
Paris, France, eiffel tower

Paris, France

What stuntwork related experiences you have in Paris?
I trained parkour with a local friend of mine. It was actually a sightseeing tour of the city that ended at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

Which movies you think of when you visit the city?
Luc Besson’s Taxi is an awesome showcase of different stunts, while at the same time is a very entertaining action film. Banlieu 13 films are also great starring a French stuntman Cyril Raffaelli, and David Belle, one of the founding fathers of parkour.

What is your favorite food in Paris?
Fresh croissants in the morning at a café with a view to the street.

What is your favorite place in the city?
Walking alongside the river Seine.

What would you recommend travelers to do in Paris?
I bet everyone has their own opinions about Paris, and what they love about it. I enjoy a foreign city the best if I have a local friend who can accompany me. Thus, I recommend travelers to befriend a French person, especially one who has cultivated his or her cultural awareness. French have deep insight into their own culture, and at the same time they are very interested in learning about other cultures. It’s a win-win cultural exchange.

Tromsø, Norway

tromsö, cafes at the town center
What stuntwork related experiences you have in Tromsö?
I’ve been there twice attending a stunt workshop for wire stunts. Both times we had the privilege to follow Mr. Joe Perez’s instructions. He is an exceptional rigger (ie. the guy who makes all the engineering and technical things possible).

Which movies you think of when you visit the city?
During my last visit I found out that a Finnish film “Rare Exports Inc.”, directed by Jalmari Helander, was shot in the same Film Camp in Tromsø.

What is your favorite food in Tromsö?
Anything with Norwegian salmon. Even though Norwegian salmon is exported overseas, eating salmon in Norway makes it slightly more delicious.

What is your favorite place in the city?
The surrounding mountains. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to climb on the summit of any mountain yet. But I am 99% certain that once I do it, the mountains are my favorite place.

What would you recommend travelers to do in Tromsö?
See a show of the local circus school, Kulta.

Lisbon, Portugal

lisbon, portugal by celine colin

Photo by Celine Colin.


What stuntwork related experiences you have in Lisbon?
I visited my friend who lives in Lisbon and happens to be a stuntman as well. Unfortunately, prior to my trip to Lisbon I had injured my both legs at a commercial shoot. My colleague was looking forward to practicing with me, but as he was jumping all I could do was to sit in a shade and watch him have fun.

Which movies you think of when you visit the city?
A Portuguese film titled “Filme da Treta”. My friend worked as the stunt-coordinator for that film. It is in Portuguese without English subtitles, so I am still not sure what the film’s message was.

What is your favorite food in Lisbon?
Portuguese dessert Crème Caramel.

What is your favorite place in the city?
Alfama district where houses were built quite close to one another, and the streets don’t follow a straight path. On a sunny, super hot summer day it was still possible to wander around the streets because they are in shade. It is a very picturesque district filled with bars and pubs.

What would you recommend travelers to do in Lisbon?
If you’re on a tight schedule, at least visit the Belèm district. There you have the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the other side is filled with cultural monuments.

Here you can find Tung Bui’s home page. He was recently featured at Finland’s largest nationwide newspaper.

More information about the stunt book where Tung Bui has the lead role. The author of the book is H-P Virkki.

Extreme bicycling by Danny MacAskill on the rooftops of Las Palmas, Spain

2015-12-15

Cyclist Danny MacAskill has performed a series of hair-raising stunts on the roofs of Las Palmas in Canary Islands in Spain. Not only does he jump from roof to roof on his bicycle but he also balances on narrow walls that protect terraces from the sun and wind.
Fortunately, we can view a beautifully filmed video of the extreme cyclist’s stunts in Spain. MacAskill wore a GoPro action camera on his helmet, camera crew was filming, and it looks like a drone was used for filming as well.

danny macaskill, rooftop Las Palmas Spain
Here is Danny MacAskill’s extreme cycling video on the house roofs of Las Palmas in Spain.

If you want to learn how to shoot action videos and perhaps prepare yourself to perform in front of camera, you might want to read Stunts, Scenes and Safety which is available for download.

Danny MacAskill was born and raised in Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. A YouTube video titled “The Funeral” launched his career as a professional stunt/extreme cyclist in 2009 when he was 23 years old. Until then, he had worked as a bicycle mechanic in Dunvegan.

H-P Virkki, what people want to ask from a stuntman who has written a book?

2015-09-19

Stunt coordinator, stuntman H-P Virkki wrote his first book in 2001, but had to wait until books had developed into a new medium that allowed featuring other elements as still images and text in the product. The result of his vision Stunts, Scenes and Safety was published as a multimedia ebook in 2015.
BMX cyclist falls down

View the video where H-P Virkki reveals what is the most common question people ask him and other things that explain the choices he made for the book.

H-P Virkki’s profile on Stage 32 and his IMDB page feature plenty of information about movies where he has performed.

Stunts, Scenes and Safety – book cover image

Movies, Music and Cartoons Inspired H-P Virkki during the Long Process of Writing a Book about Stunts

2015-05-22

Finally, stuntman, stunt coordinator H-P Virkki can look back and reflect on those years when he was writing a book about his passion and work – movies. Stunts, Scenes and Safety – Introduction to Movie Stunts is one of the first books in the world that literally shows (it includes video segments) what is required to create action scenes for movies. Here is the author’s interview where he also lists his favorite movies and books.
stunts, scenes and safety - ipad screen shot
You have a convincing career in movies. How did you come up with the idea of writing a book about stunt work?
The primary reason was my passion for movies. It took years, but I brainstormed, wrote and rewrote the book in between my stunt work assignments. That’s why the book reflects practical situations that stunts face on movie sets. Many topics discussed in the book are responses to this question: “What should my young colleagues – who may be starting out their careers – know about the professional code on a filming location?”

How did you find inspiration for working with the book when you were not filming yourself?
I was staying in Cologne (Köln), Germany when our editing and translation team was working on the book. A renowned production company Action Concept happens to be based in Cologne. I was lucky because they shot movie stunts near my neighborhood, and allowed me to follow their work. It’s one of the best stunt groups I’ve ever seen.

Watching movies, primarily drama and documentaries, gave me distance from my own work and stunt scenes we had filmed for the book. Pekka Sipilä and I edited for months for the first cuts before we were happy with the result.

I also saw theatre plays that had stunt scenes. I saw some plays with fine stage combat work, but the most inspirational was the wirework in Spiderman – Turn off The Dark in New York.
catering-filmcrew-600
Film crew catering in Köln Friesenplatz, Germany in late autumn. Felt like home.

Do you give public stunt lessons to youngsters or other groups?
No, I don’t. If I teach stunt work, it’s either preparation for a movie scene or coaching actors. Yet, I encourage people to practice, create showreels, attend stage combat courses, and if they are really interested in stunt work, they can find a long list of stunt schools in my book.

What type of reader did you have in mind when you wrote the book?
My mission was to activate the computer generation. Stunts, Scenes and Safety is also a book for everyone who wants to understand how much work it really requires to get a couple seconds worth of useful action material for a movie.

cartoon characters sarah and kevyn
You have co-operated with artist Leena Jääskeläinen for a cartoon in the book. What’s the story behind it?
I feel the cartoon and the characters in the story are the backbone of the book. When I began discussing about the cartoon story and the characters with animation artist Leena Jääskeläinen, it was the very first step for lifting the project off the ground.

Before Leena joined the project, I only had ideas and mind maps jotted down in my notebook. After she had written the manuscript for the comic, I was certain that one day, the book would be real. The main characters of the cartoon, Sarah and Kevyn, kept me on the right course whenever I felt I had lost my way during the long writing process. They were writing, editing and shooting with me throughout the project.

Some readers [ed. note: the book was published in Finnish a year ago] have told me that the cartoons were their favorite part of the book because they didn’t particularly see themselves as athletes, but loved art. Through cartoon characters Sarah and Kevyn, they felt they became part of the stunt scene. That’s the best feedback ever.

Can you name five best movies you have ever seen?
You can find references to a number of movies with great stunt work in my book, although it doesn’t necessarily mean they are my personal favorites. Choosing only five favorites is impossible for me. As life goes on, new situations and new movies turn up, but films that have made an impact on me are, for instance, the following:

Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill Jr.
An action-packed and funny movie with plenty of great stunts. The way Buster Keaton moves is simply amazing. This movie by the legend of an era is comedy at its best.

The Kid by Charles Chaplin
I saw this movie as a child, and it touched me already then. I can still remember the scene where the crying boy is taken away from the hobo. But then, the scene of dancing fork and bread is very funny. Chaplin is a one of the founding fathers of movies.

Point Break and Thelma & Louise
I have seen plenty of action movies, but I haven’t seen so many good action drama movies. These two movies give inspiration when life feels stagnant.

Cinematographer Style
An excellent documentary where filmmakers tell about their work.

Concrete Circus
A documentary by BBC that shows street artists who are making films. The real beef of this film is to follow the long road the artists have to travel before their movies are ready.

Transcendence, Birdmen and 20 Seconds of Joy
These documentaries show us people who are into extreme sports. Base jump and wingsuit flying scenes are absolutely wonderful. The documentaries also show their attitudes towards fear and risks. I can easily relate to the feelings these guys have before and after their effort.

I could add 7 Samurais, Banlieue 13, Leon, L’argent (Bresson R), La Vie de Boheme, Dog Town and Z-boys, Matrix, The Place Beyond The Pines and many other movies to the list.

Five best nonfiction books?
A great book makes you think – it doesn’t have to be easy to read and light to digest. I can list a few such books because I tend to return to them time after time. Anyone interested in books about movies should check out the list at the end of my book.

John Fiske: Introduction to Communication Studies
An essential book for understanding communications. I can learn new things every time I open it. Checking out the reference list alone is worth your time.

Coaching books by Heikki Kantola and Antti Mero
Essential reading for those who want to understand professional coaching.

A Street-Smart Song: Capoeira Philosophy and Inner Life, Nestor Capoeira
A marvelous book about the history and philosophy of the Brazilian discipline. I haven’t exercised capoeira since the 1980s, but I still have warm memories about that time.

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice by Shinryu Suzuki
This is a classic compiled from the select lectures of the zen master.

Joseph Campbell: The Hero with a Thousand Faces
I discovered this book when I was performing in a theater (Robin Hood) with Pekka Saaristo in the 1990s. Myths, symbols and hidden meanings of old stories made me curious. Campbell got me interested in Jung as well. If I were to continue this list, you might guess which book would be next.

 
ebook download
Stunts, Scenes and Safety by H-P Virkki