Jumping From New Heights...

Have you ever tried to defy every instinct in your body? Block out the fear, control your breathing... or are you someone that lives for this thrill? 

I have been a part of the BAA Family for four years now, working at HQ since late 2015. My goals have never been about becoming a stunt performer, only to be there to help those seeking to take this path. All of this changed on a Summer's day in 2019... I found myself taking the plunge, something I never thought I would do.

Whilst doing some filming on the B.L.A.S.T.  British Live Action Stunt Training course, I found myself faced with an opportunity, unlike anything I had ever done before, to jump from a platform of 30 feet into a stunt airbag. To some of you adrenaline junkies and stunt performers, this may be an activity you eat up for breakfast - to me, however, it is one of the toughest challenges I've ever faced.

During the day I had joined the other students on the pre-jump training, practising jumps from small heights into crash mats, and even getting to have a go at a ladder fall. It was odd to be the one signing the waiver and liability forms, as opposed to the one collecting the signatures. When the time came for the students to jump from greater heights, I made my way up to the top of the 30-foot platform to take some pictures, and video the jumps.  Once my filming job on top of the platform was complete - the Chief Instructor and my boss, Andreas told me that the easiest way down was to jump. I laughed it off, but then Andreas took me to the side and told me that if I wanted to jump I could. He was confident in my ability, and I had already done the pre-jump training, and the feedback from the other instructors had been positive. In the back of my mind, I've always wanted to do such a thing - but had never been presented with the opportunity or had the courage to do it. Before I knew it though my camera strap was removed from around my neck and Andreas had promptly started to prepare me to jump. It was time to face my fears. I have known Andreas since my first day at the British Action Academy, and knowing he had faith in me, filled me with confidence.

As I was standing nervously by the edge of the platform, I looked down, it looked a lot higher than 30 foot. Why does it always look higher from the top than when you're on the ground? A crowd had started to gather around the airbag. All the students and instructors on the B.L.A.S.T. course, knowing that I was a total novice began to turn around and stare, waiting and encouraging me to jump. I wanted to do this to prove it to myself, not just everyone around me, plus how many people in the world say they have had the opportunity to perform such a mad stunt?

Every instinct in my body was telling me 'NO!' - but I had to fight that and tell myself that if I just did it, it would all be fine. The thing is, some people might think this is easy, and for some people, like established stunt performers, it is, because as soon as action is called they don't second guess, they jump. However, for mere mortals like myself, talking about something and doing something this crazy are two different things. When you find yourself standing up there, looking down,  you just can't predict how you are going to react and whether you are able to do it.

Andreas took me to the edge of the platform, holding on to the back of my top. He told me to relax, and to look forward, not down. He told me to shut my eyes and breath.

"I'm going to count down from three." Andreas told me. "When I say one, you're going to open your eyes, step forward, and lookup. Foward and up."

"Forward and up." I repeated back, nodding. 

I shut my eyes and took a deep breath.

"3..." Andreas started to count. 

"2..." I felt my body start to relax.

"1..." I opened my eyes, stepped forward, and looked up.

When I jumped, it felt incredible, I don't remember making the conscious effort to do it. I just trusted myself and everything fell into place. I remember the exciting feeling of falling and thinking how awesome this actually feels, and landing on the airbag was just like sinking into a giant marshmallow. After the jump, I felt the greatest sense of adrenaline I had every experience,  and I was on Cloud 9 with a mixture of relief and excitement from staring fear in the face and winning.

I didn't do it immediately, but I did it. As a stunt performer or any kind of performer, when action is called you must move, otherwise, you risk wasting time and money, which production can't afford. I proved to myself I can do the high fall, but I also learned I wouldn't be able to do it when action is called. I would hesitate. If I was a stunt performer I'd need that knowledge, to know my limits and how to overcome them to avoid embarrassment. By being allowed to do the high fall on B.L.A.S.T, I found out my limit for that particular stunt, which I wouldn't have known otherwise. If I was training to be a stunt performer, I know I would have to work at high falls, to practice them again and again until there was no hesitation, until it became second nature.

Training isn't anything to be ashamed of, you should be doing as much as you can, buckets and buckets of it, there is no end to your training. Adding skills and strings to your bow as a performer is paramount - and unless you do this and find your limitations, and work to overcome them, you will be left behind. Courses that allow you to find that limitation and work on overcoming it can only be a benefit.

Even if you're like me, and don't plan on becoming a stunt performer, it's such an amazing feeling to face, and conquer your fears. It's an experience I will never forget, and will always wear it like a badge of honour. I faced the high jump on B.L.A.S.T.

I took the plunge and I'd do it again in a heartbeat... maybe not straight away mind. Only time will tell! Roll on BLAST 22nd-24th October! Click HERE to book now!

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