Tag Archives: stunts

A book about movies isn’t complete before it shows the action in video segments

2017-10-30

When professional stuntman H-P Virkki decided he is going to write a book about the work of stuntmen, he also decided that it would have to include video clips that show the action. He had to wait for the ebook technology to catch up with his vision, but once Apple had introduced the iBooks Author publishing tool, the long process of creating the book could begin. The exciting result is a available as an ebook Stunts, Scenes and Safety – Introduction to Movie Stunts.

Tung Bui, stuntman. From book Stunts, Scenes and Safety
For a publisher, H-P Virkki’s vision for a book that comes with video clips is an ambitious one, since plenty of work is required to get all the pieces fit together. The distribution of the book must be managed as well, because delivering an ebook with a large file size and video content is not a trivial thing. Ebooks created with iBooks Author could be delivered via Apple iBooks Store, so there was at least one global distribution channel for the book.

Later, the book was also converted to EPUB and Kindle formats in order to reach wider audiences.

H-P Virkki rehearsing stunts at a course
The second key theme of the book – in addition to the introduction to the work of stuntmen– is educating young movie lovers about the requirements movie business sets for aspiring stuntmen. The book has plenty of valuable tips for anyone who is thinking of squeezing into movies.

Writing a book is one thing, but filming segments that actually show some of the key concepts of a book is a completely different thing. How can a writer create video segments for a book? Since H-P Virkki is a professional in the movie industry, he knew what he had to do in order to capture the film material he wanted for his book.

Here is an article by H-P Virkki where he tells how he created the movie segments for the book Stunts, Scenes and Safety.

H-P Virkki at Stage 32.

More about the book. download ebook: Stunts, Scenes and Safety

Here is how an author assessed the pros and cons of working with a publisher

2015-10-21

H-P Virkki is a stuntman and stunt coordinator who has written a book Stunts, Scenes and Safety about the skills needed for creating action scenes for movies and home videos. The ebook includes not only plenty of tips for aspiring stunt actors, but also actual video footage on planning and performing stunts on a set.

Stunts, Scenes and Safety was published in April 2015. Recently, H-P Virkki realized that people tended to ask the same questions about his book. We asked the author what the most common question was and what his answer was.

hp virkki at a skate park

H-P Virkki


The most common question is: How did you find a publisher? Since it’s an ebook, would it have been possible to publish it without help?

H-P Virkki: “Yes, it is possible to self-publish an ebook, and hire an editing service to help with the manuscript. For me, it was clear that I wanted to work with a professional publisher.”

“In the beginning, I tried out Apple iBooks Author in order to see whether a multimedia book would really be plausible, and to see how illustrations, text and comics would interact. When I realized it worked all right, I focused on the content and trusted that when the time comes, I’ll find a good partner. Only after the manuscript and video segments were ready, I really started to look for a publisher. After I was convinced that I didn’t want a combination of a printed book and a DVD, I decided not to approach many traditional publishers, but rather look for a digital specialist.”

“Finding a publisher wasn’t actually very hard because for over two years, I had kept a close look on ebook experts who were active in the field. Klaava Media was an obvious number one from the very beginning – not least because they published articles about movies, music and other entertainment in the company blog.”

“The publisher quickly understood my vision, and we started working together almost immediately. I think the main reason was that the publisher found the multimedia aspect of the project visionary, and the movie theme was also down his alley. I just remember that we were both pretty excited because we felt we were doing something new.”

“I really should say a bit more about the benefits of having a professional publisher. It is tremendously helpful to work with a person who has practical solutions and helpful suggestions whenever you are unsure of which way to go. It is also important that someone whose area of expertise is outside your own field keeps asking questions about your own industry. Many things that are obvious to you and your filmmaker buddies are complete gibberish to a normal, balanced reader.”

“In a multimedia book, there is so much to do. You have to design the layout for each book format, take into account all different reading devices, and get the text, drawings, cartoons, links and video clips to work together. I think I was lucky to have a balancing teammate in the project.”


H-P Virkki performs an Aikido excercise at a skate park.

H-P Virkki’s book Stunts, Scenes and Safety – Introduction to Movie Stunts available now.
download ebook: stunts, scenes and safety

A Book about Movie Stunts Wouldn’t Be Perfect without Video Scenes That Show the Action

2015-05-08

Stunts, Scenes and Safety – Introduction to Movie Stunts is an ebook you can read on your smartphone, tablet or PC. It was written with young audiences in mind. The mission was to create a book which inspires readers to be active, stretch their limits and to create something new. The book is packed with tips, photos and videos for learning to shoot action scenes.

Ebook download: Stunts, Scenes and Safety

When I started writing, I set myself three key objectives: interaction with readers, contact with movie making process and real stunts (instead of computer animations).

Interaction with readers

I wanted to create the book in interaction with its main audience – younger generations where the stuntmen of the future are already growing. Social media is no substitute for live interaction.

All the projects and examples in the book are tested and proven in real life situations at a gym or on a filming location. I wanted the content of the book to be influenced by those people who I was writing to. I also wanted to get immediate, unfiltered feedback on what works and what doesn’t.

All kinds of things can go wrong in a project like this. I wanted to be sure that everything in the book is tested and also works in practice.

View the book trailer:

Close contact with movie making process

For me, it was very important to be as much as possible behind the camera or in front of a camera during the writing process. It is pretty easy to come up with fancy ideas, but there is no substitute for the first-hand experience. It was also the main reason why I didn’t explain the process using old stunt movie clips as examples.

To be able to work in film productions was a bit of a challenge because it’s not always easy to get on a pro movie set in Finland. In the end, it worked out pretty well and I got to work as a stuntman, coordinator and even had couple of lines to act.

Physical stunts are important

I wanted to emphasize basic physical stunts in the book. I chose stunts that I found relatively safe for the future stuntmen to start with.

The same basic principles also apply to tougher and sometimes more dangerous stunts. After all, adventure-style physical activities, like playing “cops and robbers”, climbing trees, running, chasing, and being creative with parkour or skating tricks come naturally to kids. Adding a camera to the experience can be fun, even artistic dimension.

Of course, in an adventure game or movie, you have to have some kind of a battle element. I chose the king of combat scenes: sword fight.

The emphasis was on attentional concentration and having a good time on each filming location. I wanted to minimize violence, accidents and injuries, even though they are often present in stunt scenes of big budget movies.

To find the right mood for writing, I watched Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin pretty often. The energy of those guys probably had an influence on me as well.

The book is not oriented towards grand spectacles, or filled with CGI (Computer Generated Images) – it’s pretty “old school”. I believe it offers a good balance to today’s fast-paced life.

Read how the video segments were created for the book.

Written by H-P Virkki. Check out his profile on Stage 32.
Ebook download: Stunts, Scenes and Safety

Sample pages:

stunts, scenes and safety book on ipad

stunts-ipad5-sshot

How Video Segments Were Created for a Book about Movie Stunts

2015-04-28

During the long process of writing the manuscript and directing the video scenes for the book Stunts, Scenes and Safety – Introduction to Movie Stunts, author H-P Virkki continued working as a stuntman and stunt coordinator. Sometimes, his work in movie business and book writing project were a perfect match. Now, when the hard work of writing is behind him, H-P Virkki shares how two videos included in the book were created.
Graffiti in London Ontario Canada

A graffiti on a street in London, Ontario. This one was published in the book.

Your Move Program

An interesting project came up when I was traveling in Canada. In 2012, a campaign called Your Move intended to inspire Finnish teenagers and younger kids to find the joy of physical exercise. Tung, who plays the leading role in the videos of my book, was actively involved and visible in the project.

A few lucky coincident events happened. An aikido demonstration had been scheduled for the main event of the Your Move campaign, and my old friend Mari Wiklund asked me to consider writing and directing a short promo clip to represent aikido in the event. It was a perfect project for my purposes. I spent a month or so toying with ideas for the clip.

Later, at Aikido Bridge seminar in San Diego in the U.S., I got valuable advice from aikido master Christian Tissier on how to approach kids. His advice changed my mind on what should be shown on the promo video. We ended up leaving out all the knife scenes and baseball bats from the book as well (sorry, Mari).

We filmed the promo clip on a very tight schedule when I had returned to Helsinki.
We had fun during filming, and some of the material also ended up in the section “Whirling Around” in my book. I think the joy of movement can be felt in the short making-of video (watch it) and in the aikido promo clip (view the video). Being on a filming set really relieved my writing anxiety, and the experience was pure flow that I wanted my readers to feel in their own projects.

I also came across a very important contact: Pekka Sipilä He shot and edited the aikido promo clip, and I asked him to participate in my book project as well. Without his professional and always helpful attitude, the process of creating videos for the book would have got stuck in multiple occasions.

rehearsing stunts at a course

Camp Fire workshop was a real life opportunity to see if my ideas really worked – they did!

Whirling around the Camp Fire

The shooting of the video “Whirling Around” was my most profound test and also a point of contact to the main audience. My old aikido buddy Kustaa Ylitalo was one of the main organizers of a large kids’ summer camp called “Leiritulet” (Camp Fire). Kustaa asked me to join the camp for an afternoon session in order to teach stuntwork. I had only one condition: I wanted bring a camera crew with me and another stunt instructor, Tung.

I had already sketched the main ideas for my book, and was excited to see if participants found them interesting.

My teaching approach is pretty much the same – be it a professional actor, an aikido student or in this case, about 20-30 kids. First, I pick out an outcome which is realizable and whose success can be assessed as concretely as possible. Of course, everything we do has to be safe. Then, I have a variety of exercises which I can tweak as the situation evolves. I always want to take everyone’s learning style into account and teach as individually as possible. To be able to do so, I spend quite some time before the session to get to know the students. I also want them to know me.

The day before the camp started, I arrived at Vierumäki to acquaint myself with the group, and their way of dealing with new tasks. I decided to focus on the role of the camera in my teaching, and also I wanted to give everyone a real stunt experience. We were the very last session of a three day long course, and I knew the kids would be a little bit tired. Being last is challenging also because you really want to leave everyone with a good feeling.

So, I chose to be more of a stunt coordinator than a sports coach. I wanted to share my concentration and offer my knowledge and support in a way that would help them if they ever went to a professional filming set. Everything I did with them was “real”. They were immersed in the stuntwork and there was no need for patronizing talk. In my mind, we were on a set and they were just like real stunt performers. My responsibility was to ensure safety (physical and mental) and our common goal was to record good shots. How did it go? When you watch “Whirling Around” video included in my book, I think you get a glimpse of the atmosphere.

Written by H-P Virkki. View his profile on Stage 32.

Stunts, Scenes and Safety – Introduction to Movie Stunts