Interview with Ian Whyte

With the energy of a hurricane, Ian Gerard Whyte first came into contact with the British Action Academy at the tail end of 2016. Big-eyed, and bushy tailed, he was eager to begin his training with us.

Ripping through the British Action Academy Warrior Master Class courses with the impact of a force nine gale, Ian will take his Advanced Screen Combatant Test early in 2019. A true force of nature the ‘Whyte Whirlwind’ moved onto numerous productions with us over the years and we wanted to share his energetic journey with you. Batten down the hatches and strap yourselves in! 

Hi Ian. Why don't we start right at the beginning? What attracted you to the film and television industry?

I got into TV and Movies by accident. Many moons ago, when I went for an audition for something on TV, the casting director put me in touch with an agent and then I got a offered a few obscure things. One of which was working with VFX on Game of Thrones. A few night-shoots in a green screen suit, it was cold, but it was fun… I loved working on set, so any opportunity that came up, I would take it. I just fell in love with the industry and there was nothing else that I wanted to pursue more. People do say you get the bug, but it gets under your skin and is just so much more enjoyable than anything else you could do, it’s the best feeling in the world.

Why did you go down the route of screen combat?

There were several things that made me want to pursue screen combat. When I obtained my musical theatre performance degree, we also had to study for our stage combat certificates. I loved it and always wanted to do more of it.

When I auditioned for a production in 2016 I was asked “what screen combat experience” I had. I only had stage combat and knew that screen combat was a completely different ball game. I didn’t want to go into a new production not knowing precisely how to give 110%. I knew then that I had to pursue it, to make myself more marketable and to make myself a better performer, but I always wanted to do it.

Why do you think it’s important to advance yourself as a performer through training?

It’s a crazy old industry to work in and so you must make sure you have as many strings to your bow in order to stand out and to be the best that you can be. You want to be the best asset that you can be to every production that you get involved in. The more you can do, the more employable you are.

The question you have to ask yourself is, do you want to be employed? Do you want to further yourself and your career? That’s how to think. It’s all about your career at the end of the day and so the more you can do, the better placed you will be.

A lot of people think that their career will just happen and that they will land on their feet immediately! Sadly, it just doesn’t work like that. You have to put in the time, the effort, and the training to be the best you can.

Once you do the courses, you find that you are more switched on. You can start to see how professionals make the fights as good as you can, and you have an understanding where you can weigh in and know what you are doing and help too, which is important. 

You’re going to sweat, you’re going to struggle, but it is worth it 110%.

What made you choose the BAA Warrior Masterclass?

I remembered from working on Game of Thrones, the stunt coordinator told me about Andreas (chief instructor at the BAA) and the British Action Academy. So I called the BAA and spoke to you, Dan, and you helped me to start my journey. There were setbacks and I couldn’t join as soon as I wanted, but I knew I wanted to do it. Every guy my age will tell you about a film like ‘The Princess Bride’ and the fight sequence from that, which also inspired me to learn to fight for the screen and to be as good as I could be. I think it’s very important to be as versatile as you can as a performer. I chose the British Action Academy because I had heard good things about the company. The name had come up so many times on various different sets and I knew it was the right thing for me to do and my career progression, it was clear that it was the best company out there that trains for screen action.

I wanted to train under Andreas. I think that getting a good instructor and someone who has worked well in the industry is so important. If you want to be as good as the best, you have to learn from the best. Alongside his colleagues, he was responsible for the amazing fight from Star Wars Episode One ‘The Phantom Menace’ as well, which is one of my all-time favourite fight sequences and to be taught by one of the guys responsible for that was simply awesome.

How did you first approach your Warrior training?

I approached my Warrior training by calling my stage combat buddy, covering old fight routines and making new ones. I went to the gym a little bit more and tried doing some cardio

I thought that if it was anything like stage combat then I should try and prepare my body physically in any way I could. I knew I wanted to be in the best position I could, bringing up my fitness was important, because although you start from the ground up during Phase I, it’s still intense.

How have you found your Warrior Masterclass journey?

It’s been simply amazing. It’s something I thought would add to my skills and it did that, just brilliantly.

The Warrior Masterclass was an eye-opener, especially due to my stage combat background. It’s incredibly intense, but an immense learning curve and you really can see the progression and development as you go through. You must make sure that you do go away practice and take away everything you learned, as you won’t get the most out of the course if you don’t. As you go further you start to bring characters into the mix and you really have to dig deep to become those characters believably. It does get hard, but honestly, it’s so much fun. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. 

What, for you, was the hardest thing about Warrior?

What can I say… Well, it’s demanding on the body, it’s tough on the mind. But it’s fun, so much fun. So I can’t say what’s hard about it, because I enjoyed each and every course so much. I’m a glutton for punishment I suppose. With the people you train with, the camaraderie, it gets you through. It is physically and mentally draining, but the flip-side to that coin is that the achievements are so gratifying, you feel you can take on the world. It’s hard, but when you do it, there’s no stopping you. It ignited a passion inside of me.

What do you think the Warrior Masterclass has helped you achieve?

I have achieved more action related work, I have fine-tuned my combat skills from stage combat to screen combat. I am being cast more specifically for what I can do. It matches my look and it seems like the roles are getting bigger and better each and every time. I can go to auditions comfortably and talk about my screen combat experience with confidence.

Have you noticed any differences when working on set since you joined The British Action Academy?

The past 12 months, since being involved with the British Action Academy, have been phenomenal. I’ve done so much over this time and had such a variety of different roles as well, working on numerous productions, both in the UK and outside the UK.

When you work with the BAA, you get more respect, because people know of the skills you learn and will trust more in the abilities you have. Each production will expect more from you because they know your abilities are better. Working with other BAA students on set has been great, it really does feel like everyone is there for each other and there is a family environment.

The courses have helped my knowledge on set in so many different ways. I know what’s expected of me, which is really important. It’s nice going in with the knowledge that you know what you need to do and how you can translate what you have learned to what you need on any production.

What advice would you give to anyone who is looking to start their journey, and are thinking about a British Action Academy Course?

Do it. Test yourself. The hardest part about this industry is getting your first footing. The British Action Academy offers a way where you can, as a performer show your true worth.

Believe in yourself, train to the best of your ability with the BAA, go out into the world and show your capability. Don’t be afraid to work with other students, they will become your family and you will make friends for life.

I always look forward to when I next hear from the BAA, working with you guys is the best. You’re always fighting my corner and I love putting my training to good use, to do you guys proud and to show others how good and essential the training really is. The BAA is a big part of my life.

Inspired to take part in action training, check out our range of courses HERE.


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