The Academy Award for... Best Stunt Co-ordinator?

A few months ago Helen Mirren cast the spotlight on a topic that has sparked debate for years. 

Why don’t Stunt/Action Co-ordinators qualify for a category at the Oscars?  

If you search just two words together: ‘Stunts’ and ‘Oscars’ the internet is littered with posts, interviews and videos about this sensitive subject. 

Jack Gill’s name is one that will come up tenfold as he’s been campaigning for over thirty years to have this overturned, which begs the question, why has The Academy refused to add this category? 

Over the years Steven Spielberg, Jim Cameron, Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham have all added their names to the ever growing list of supporters for a Action/Stunt Co-ordinator nomination.

If you're a part of the process of making movies, when you've worked on Oscar nominated films and you watch the Oscars, you'll invariably get to see your colleagues being nominated and if they are lucky, receive an academy award for their hard work and creative passion. You might have even won one yourself.

If you're in the business, you'll know that making movies is tough. You dedicate your life to your craft and whilst it's not fame and fortune that propels most people who create movies, it's nice to be recognised for your work. Even if you didn't personally win the Oscar, you might have been part of the department that did. 

We always watch the Oscars here at the BAA. We're passionate about the craft of movies and even more passionate about screen action. Whilst we're gushing with pride for our fellow movie making colleagues who win Oscars, we always feel a sense of unfairness that screen action get's no recognition at all, especially when in some Oscar winning movies, action plays a major part of it's success. 

Gladiator without the action...?

Gladiator without the epic action scenes is like Gravity without the visual effects. Neil Corbould along with others, won Oscar's for visual effects for both Gravity and Gladiator. He has worked alongside leading Stunt/Action Co-ordinators to help create and enhance some of the most epic action sequences of all time.

Is The Academy really saying that the craft of Visual Effects should be recognised but not the craft of Stunt/Action Co-ordination? By not giving Stunt/Action Co-ordination a category, that's exactly the message they are portraying. 

It's hard not to speculate the reasons why our industry has not been recognised at the Oscars, and it's equally hard not to think that there may well be deeper politics involved. I don't doubt that The Academy recognise the importance of Stunt/Action co-ordination but it doesn't stop me from wondering if this category may well tread on the toes of other categories, such as Directing and Best Actor/Actress. 

Having worked in the film industry for many years and been on more film sets than I can count, I have often seen some power struggles between Stunt/Action Co-ordinators and Directors. An experienced Stunt/Action co-ordinator designs the action and they can also be very experienced at knowing how to shoot and direct the scenes. In many cases, they work very closely with the Directors to help them direct action sequences so they look as realistic as possible. I'm not saying this happens on every movie but I have certainly seen this many times in the past.

I know of numerous incidences where Stunt/Action Co-ordinators have not been awarded accurate credits even when they have been instrumental to the shooting and directing of large scale action sequences. 

If there was a category for Best Stunt Performer, would certain lead actors and actresses want to give some of the credit to their success to their stunt doubles?

At this stage, we can only speculate where The Academy stand. So far they've kept very quiet on the issue. Whatever their reasons, it's encouraging to see more and more industry powerhouses standing side by side with the action industry, speaking out and actively demonstrating. 

That's the thing with action. It almost always speaks louder than words. 

The debate continues...


If you're interested in a career as an action performer there are a few different career paths you can take. Check out our Careers Guide. 

If you would like to attend one of our industry recognised courses - check out our course diary. We offer a wide range of industry approved screen action training, from firearms and screen combat to intensive stunt courses. 

You can check out our full list of course dates right HERE!


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