Features and Columns · Movies

More Stuntmen Should Be Directing Action Movies

Lights, camera, roundhouse kick!
John Wick Red
By  · Published on June 2nd, 2023

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores how stuntmen in the director’s chair were crucial to the John Wick franchise.

If you’re a fan of action movies, the idea of turning your nose up at a stuntman in the director’s chair feels pretty silly.

Y’all ever heard of Buster Keaton? Charlie Chaplin? What about Jackie Chan? Action boys the lot of ’em! Only that’s selling the true crux of the prejudice short. There’s certainly a precedent for a sort of Jack of All Trades: the director/star/producer/stunt coordinator who is a one-man cast and crew. But the same isn’t true of stunt workers who fall more into the Journeyman category.

Enter John Wick — the little indie flick that spawned a genre-reviving franchise. It’s hard to imagine studios turning down John Wick, knowing what we know now. But as the video essay below underlines, co-directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch struggled to get their film made through traditional avenues, in part because there was hesitancy about letting two second-unit stunt guys direct a feature film.

Calling Stahelski and Leitch “stunt guys” undersells how much experience these two brought to the table. And luckily for us, they believed in their ability to tell a solid story (that also happens to kick/punch/shoot all kinds of ass). All that said, here’s a video essay on how the film did get made and what the “stunt guys” can bring to the filmmaking table:

Watch “When you hire stunt guys to direct the movie”

Who made this?

This video essay on how John Wick benefited from putting stuntmen in the director’s chair is by CinemaStix, a weekly video essay channel run by U.S.-based creator Danny Boyd. You can subscribe to CinemaStix on YouTube here. And you can support Boyd on Patreon here.

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Meg has been writing professionally about all things film-related since 2016. She is a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects as well as a Curator for One Perfect Shot. She has attended international film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Nitrate Picture Show as a member of the press. In her day job as an archivist and records manager, she regularly works with physical media and is committed to ensuring ongoing physical media accessibility in the digital age. You can find more of Meg's work at Cinema Scope, Dead Central, and Nonfics. She has also appeared on a number of film-related podcasts, including All the President's Minutes, Zodiac: Chronicle, Cannes I Kick It?, and Junk Filter. Her work has been shared on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Business Insider, and CherryPicks. Meg has a B.A. from the University of King's College and a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto.