Today, I turn this blog over to the toughest guy on Stargate: Atlantis. No, no John Sheppard? Puleeeze. I’m talking about the real deal, the fearless one, the show’s oft-bruised and bruising Stunt Coordinator: James “Bam Bam” Bamford who has kindly taken time off from being shot, stabbed, kicked, punched, thrown, blown up, and set on fire to come by and answer your questions. On to his Q&A…
Ytimyona writes: “Questions for Bam Bam:
What was the hardest stunt you’ve managed to pull off?
JB-I have done a double highfall into an airbag with two jumpers, myself and another stuntman.
Are there any actors who do their own stunts?
JB-Many actors do a lot of there own stunts, but never all.
What sort of stunt is your favorite?”
JB-I have many favorites, but a well thought out, realistic fight sequence is up there with them for sure.
Linda Gagne writes: “Have you ever gotten hurt on a stunt? If so, how bad and which episode?”
JB-I have not been hurt during any stunt on SG1 or Atlantis, but I did get burned pretty badly on the last commercial promo shoot we did getting lit on fire. The wind came up unexpectedly and kept the flame in my face.
Elyse writes: “1) Have any stunts gone wrong (hopefully not horribly)? And if so, what has occurred?
JB-If anything has gone wrong, I have just rolled with the punches and adapted a new strategy…..nothing has gone REALLY wrong. Wink.
2) What was the most complicated stunt you can remembering having to set up (for either SG1 or SGA)?
JB-The Sheppard vs. Sheppard fight including all the wire gags, for “Doppleganger”
3) Do you think you’ll be going over to SGU?”
JB-I can never tell for sure, but a little bird has indicated to me that I will be darkening the halls during the prep and shooting of the upcoming excitement of “Universe”.
Sari writes: “How did you get into doing stunt work? Was it something you always wanted to do, or did you discover it later on?
JB-I saw the “Six Million Dollar Man” as a young boy and my father told me he jumped high because of a stuntman….naturally I wanted to jump as high as Lee Majors so……I was approached to be the martial arts double for Michael Dudikoff for a series, “Cobra”…the rest is history!
What kind of martial arts training have you had?
JB-Shotokan and Shorin-Ji Kenpo Karate with Muay Thai, Boxing, and Kickboxing. Also Balintiwak Eskrima.
What’s your favorite fight/stunt sequence that you’ve done on Atlantis?
JB-Probably the sword fight in “Broken Ties” or the knife fight in “The Eye”….or….
Enzo Aquarius writes: “Have you ever been serious hurt while doing your work (sorry, had to ask ), and, if so, what happened?”
JB-If you count “seriously” as tearing my lat and getting my head split open……but….no broken bones(a couple of ribs, yes) or life threatening injuries.
Star writes: “1.What is the most complex stunt you had to coordinate for the show?
JB-I think I have answered this already?
2.Have you ever had a stunt go terribly wrong?”
JB-I think I have answered this one already as well…..no?
AndreaFWhites writes: “In “Conversion”, it looks like someone from the stunt team did most of the sparring with Rachel besides Joe, who was that and did Rachel do all of her scenes?”
JB-I used two stunt doubles for that scene as well as both actors….Jeff Robinson as Sheppard, and Lani Gelera for Teyla.
Amel writes: “quel acteur a été le plus difficile à dirigé pour les cascades?
vous arrive t-il de changer à la dernière minute une chorégraphie?
quel est ton dessert préfèré? moi, c’est une glace aux cookies….”
JB-Hmmm……ask me that one in person, at a convention. I promise to answer in full, and in French.
And Then There’s Cake writes: “As martial artists, my husband and I pay particular attention to fight sequences and how well they are choreographed and executed. Yours are surperb! How did you manage to get that “big screen” quality and feel into your scenes? (’Cause let’s face it, most TV fight sequences are crap.) Is it a difference in how you stage them or film them?”
JB-First of all, thank you very much for the compliment. The differences are….rehearsal time, and timing, period. I require my actors and stunt people to rehearse quite a bit more than the usual series. In rehearsal, I demand the timing to be delivered so as to eliminate any ugly pauses or indications of a choreographed battle.
Mondschaf writes: “To Bam Bam: Would you like to talk about some funny incidents that occured while performing stunts? Or if somehing just wouldn’t work the way intended? I’d love to read.”
JB-Well then….while performing a “Hong Kong” hand pull, I was hurled into a tree with a wire on “Dungeon Siege”. Upon impact with the tree, my pants split wide open…..and….well….I was not wearing any underwear…..ok?
Manda writes: “first of all I want to say that I love your work with Stargate, it’s been fantastic. I think my favorite fight sequences have been the ones between Ford and Ronon in “Runner” and Ronon and Tyre in “Broken Ties”. Which fight sequence(s) was your favorite to work on?”
JB-Thank you for you interest!! I have answered a same minded question already but I tend to have the same taste as you.
Chevron7 writes: “1. Who would win in an arm wrestling contest, you or Dan Shea?
JB-Would you really like to know? I’m not a wrestler by choice, but…well….that one would have to happen to answer you completely.
2. How much fun was “the big jump” in Outcast? Was that the biggest jump you’ve done?
JB-That jump was mucho fun of course!! Alas, it’s not the biggest jump I’ve done to date, sorry.
3. Were you really a stunt double for David Duchovny on The X-Files? If so, are there any memorable stunts I should watch out for (I’ve got all of the DVDs)?
JB-Yes, I was his double from season 2 until the end of season 5…..He told me to tell you all that he does all his own stunts….but check out the RV drag in “Blood”.
4. Are there any massive fight scenes coming up in the rest of Season 5? I’m thinking something along the lines of Mitchell/Marrick in AoT (which was brilliant!), perhaps with a certain Lieutenant-Colonel and an elusive Wraith.
p.s. please come to Australia, we have sharks. LOL!”
JB-I love sharks, and Australia….wow!!! Yes there are more great fights to come…..”Prodigal” will give you a few, in fact!!!
Perragrin writes: “Is there a stunt you just wouldn’t do for love, nor money.. no matter how much they paid you?”
Scary writes: “How did you get the name BAM BAM does it have anything to do with the Flintstones and Barney’s son? ; )
JB-My last name is BAMford. Yes, it’s that simple.
I saw on the ARK OF TRUTH Credits that you were the fight coordinator and Dan Shea was the stunt coordinator? Why the difference? Aren’t fights consider stunts? Are you in charge of both on SGA?
Thanks for all your hard work. : )”
JB-Fights are considered stunts, of course. Some stunt coordinators are not fight choreographers so they require another individual to come in and perform that particular task for them. In the case of the last couple of seasons of SG1, I served as the fight choreographer whenever there was a larger scale fight sequence to handle. I would sometimes bring in an assistant as well when I was super busy on Atlantis at the same time.
Caitylanna writes: “I have a few questions for Bam Bam – how did you get started in stunts? Which of the actors pick up the choreography for the stunts (i.e. fighting) the fastest and how long do you usually practice before you have the actors at full speed?”
JB-I got into stunts through the martial arts….I was chosen to be a martial arts double for and actor. I usually attempt to get at least 4 hours of rehearsal time with the actors prior to filming a fight sequence. Rachel and Jason are definitely the two top memories when it comes to choreography.
Cat1 writes: “Which is your personal favourite type of stunt to set up or to perform, and are there any kinds of stunts you enjoy less?”
JB-Intricate fight sequences, or driving sequences, or full body burns, or highfalls….or….I love them all!! I don’t enjoy being overly cold…so….that’s all.
DasNdanger writes: “1. Which actor’s (male/female) growth and development in handling their own physical performances (stunts, fighting, etc) was most personally satisfying to see over the course of SGA’s run?
JB-Well…..Rachel came from no fight experience to amazing on screen ability….so did Jason, for that matter…..so…..well…..they both ROCK!!!
2. Tackling stunt work in full Wraith make-up and attire – how hard is it?
JB-Not hard at all actually. The make-up is very comfortable and easy to work with.
3. What one single moment in SGA are you most proud to have been a part of, and why?”
JB-Seasons 1,2,3,4, & 5….because I was there!!!
Ellie writes: “Bam Bam, thank you for the most unusual, varied and efficient fighting techniques I have seen in tv! It’s all a visual feast and a moving (in every sense of the word!) poem.
JB-You are welcome.
1/ Have you considered starting your own fighting school / martial art training school? (Not just for actors but also for members of the public wanting to learn martial arts)
JB-Been there with my teacher….I don’t have time to tackle a school.
2/ Have you ever considered using chen tai chi defensive moves? They are not as flashy as other martial arts moves but incredibly effective for small people to use against big attackers.
JB-I use anything that suits the personality of the character I am choreographing for….so….yes….if it looks good!!
Thanks Bam Bam! May you have a long and successful career in beating up people!”
Tim the Technician writes: “1) Were you disappointed that the Weir stunt at the end of ‘First Strike’ didn’t work as planned?
JB-I was not disappointed at all. There was a safety call made, and I stand by it %100. It still ended up looking great on film, which is the point in the end.
2) Since you’re Bam Bam, can we assume that there is a ‘Pebbles’ out there too?
3) Were you scared about the jump you had to do for ‘Outcast’?
Fantastic work with all of the stunts and fight scenes that you’ve been a part of for both SG:1 and SG:A. Thanks!”
JB-Thank you for watching!!
Firefly827347 writes: “Are you ever coming back to Gateworld?
JB-Yes….I’m just very busy working on other things at the moment…I love Gateworld!!
And do you have any movies lined up for stunt work after Watchmen?”
JB-I am currently working on a movie entitled,”RAMPAGE” as well as a day or so’s work on “2012”.
MyNameIsNada writes: “Obviously there are some actors who can do their own stunt work and other who can’t. Are there set limits and guidelines you need to follow in terms of how much of a stunt an actor is allowed to do? Have you ever been told not to allow an actor to do a certain stunt? Finally, just a random question here, if somebody was interested in becoming a stuntperson, what skill would you say is most important to master? Thanks!”
JB-Every actor is different and it is my job to get to know each and every actor I work with so I can determine what they are capable of. A stunt person is the ultimate crosstrainer, so there is not one skill you would require, but over 100.
Patricia Lee writes: “Alex Levine wrote in this week’s SGA blog about Tracker:
“As for the specific stunts, when you’re watching the show keep in mind the following: When Ronon tackles Kiryk off a cliff, there are no stunt guys or visual effects involved. Both actors actually go flying off the cliff and land on some pads out of frame. Also, Will told me that Jason actually wanted to be the stunt guy for the spiked log gag (you can’t miss it). Of course he wasn’t allowed, because if Jason gets injured, we have to stop shooting. But apparently he kept arguing with Will about it and Will had to say no a hundred times. Will also mentioned that they had a lot of laughs shooting the decapitation scene. I imagine you viewers won’t find it so funny, but shooting it was kind of silly.”
1- Could you please elaborate on what the silliness was about?
JB-That would be the “dropping of the head” into frame on every take. It made us all crack up.
2- Also, will we get to see a behind the scene extras of you and your team on the Season 5 DVD’s? If not, is there still time to ask Ivon if he would film one? Please! And thank you!
JB-Yes, there will be tons, and tons of behind the scenes footage for you all to check out on season 5….Ivon was always there, at the ready.
3- Did you go to Las Vegas? If so, what was a memorable moment in shooting there that you can share!
JB- Yes…..VIVA LAS VEGAS!!! Um….I can’t tell you the details other than I am extremely proud of this episode….extremely!!!
4- Finally, do you know yet if you will be continuing as stunt coordinator for the SGA movie? And will you be at the Creation Con in Vancouver in April 2009.
JB-I was told about a movie….we will see what happens with that….I may be at Creation, but I don’t know for sure yet.
Thanks for a wonderful 5 year run and keep us up to date on GW as to your next projects so we can look for you in the credits and actions scenes. Best Wishes!”
Trish writes: “ Hey Bam Bam! Thanks for coming on Joe’s blog to chat with us! You are the BEST fight choreographer on television! Period! And the best for the movies, too. Your fight scenes are made for the big screen.
Here are my questions—
1) Please say you will be on American Gladiators in the future. My husband and I would love to watch you beat all those steroid-maniacs. If they won’t have you on the show I’m sure it’s because you’d make them all look bad. You’d be the reason to watch, though.
JB-I ran into a very nice MGM exec. In Vegas, and he assured me that he is trying to get me on there still. It may not be fair, since “TOA” is a good friend of mine…..or would it?
2) What did you want to be when you grew up? I’m thinking a librarian. Ok… Just kidding! But seriously, if you couldn’t be a super-amazing-uber stunt/fight choreography, would WOULD you be?
JB-I love what I do and would do anything else.
3) You once told me that the Jaffa costumes were the hardest to wear. Since then I’ve been wondering why. I think you said, “Oh they are awful! I hate them!” It’s not an exact quote. It’s basically what I remember. Now I’m wanting to know… are they hot? Heavy? Pinchy? All of the above? Have you worn something worse since?
JB- Heavy, hot, pinchy, awkward, slow, ….all of the above and more…yes….my least favorite wardrobe of all time to fight or run in.
4) How hard would it be to teach a wimp like me to do a fight scene? I have a minor in dance but I don’t believe fighting is like a dance. Jason Mamoa says it is like a violent, angry, dance. It seems way more complicated and dangerous than that to me. Especially if you gave me a sword or some other weapon. I think I’d just beam everyone in the room with it.
JB-Rachel had only a dance background when I began to teach her and look how she did?
5) Which brings me to my last question. Have you ever had someone who could not learn to do the fight scenes? I only say this because I’m sure I would not be able to do it. It seems MOST people would lack the skill to do a great fight scene. Am I right?”
JB-I have been able to transform some of the most unlikely people into killers on screen……but…..not everybody is cut out for it, that is correct. It just makes my job easier, and more enjoyable if the individual(s) I am teaching are capable, and not having six fingers and three hands.
JB-THANK YOU ALL FOR A FANTASTIC, MIND BLOWING 5 SEASONS OF GREATNESS!!!!