West Kootenay U19 Film Festival: Workshop provides secrets to movie stunts

Running from explosions, jumping out of helicopters or flying through the air are just part of an average day for stuntman Garvin Cross.

Running from big explosions, jumping out of helicopters or flying through the air are just part of an average day for Garvin Cross.

The Rossland resident is a Hollywood stuntman and has spent the last few weeks filming in Vancouver, but now it is time for him to come home and share his industry knowledge with young filmmakers in the Kootenays.

On Saturday, Cross, along with Scott Carlson of Juicy Studios in Rossland, will be teaching an all-day filmmaking and stunt workshop to teens age 12 to 19, in conjunction with the West Kootenay U19 Film Festival, which is opening on May 2.

The crash course in moviemaking will cover stunt safety, dramatic camera angles and honing a story.

Cross says that with the natural resources in the area aspiring moviemakers have plenty to film, but he wants to help them hone their process and teach new techniques.

“It is about building a foundation for kids who are already filming mountain bike and ski jumps,” he said. “It is important to take the next step with them and show them storytelling to go along with the stunts.”

Cross has plenty experience in the field, having worked on movies like “Rumble in The Bronx”, “Inception”, Watchmen and “Fantastic Four.”

“I don’t want people to have Kodak courage,” he said, referring to the urge to get dangerous for the sake of a movie.

“It starts with jumping off a cliff for a shot, but you have got to have that safe landing.

“We don’t want the course to be all about stunts. Instead of teaching them how to make another mountain bike piece or another ski film, I want to teach how to cut a shot to make a stunt look dangerous when it isn’t.”

Once safety behind the scenes is covered, Cross says the next step is to tell a story through camera angles, zooming and more.

“We will be helping them figure our how to shoot camera angles that help create suspense, or help create humour,” he said, adding that a dramatic camera zoom can add more emotion and meaning to a shot. “It is about using the camera to create excitement or passion or even to slow things down to create beauty.”

The final product at the end of the day-long filming workshop will be a comedy with some light stunts in there, but Cross says the event is about having fun and getting outside.

“It is going to be fun too,” he said. “It isn’t going to be a day in the classroom. It is going to be fast and furious and we are going to help (the filmmakers) express themselves. We are going to be shooting outside and engaging everyone in the project. You can do a ski or mountain bike movie, but let’s make it more attractive.”

Presently, Cross is a seasoned veteran in the stuntman world, but he got his start before there were any cameras to capture him jumping out of that airplane.

“I was working up at (Red Mountain) and didn’t want to be a ski bum my whole life, so I went to Europe,” he said. “When I got back, I started doing smoke jumps – parachuting out of a plane or helicopter into a forest fire, so I’ve always had the bug.”

His passion for safety during a stunt also came from smoke jumping before his movie career began..

“When people are jumping into their areas to fight a fire, there is so much planning involved,” he said. “We had to have a plan. You have to know your levels and your talent and understand the forethought that goes into a stunt.”

To get in on Cross’ 30 years of stuntman experience, visit www.u19filmfest.com/workshops and fill out the form. Registration is $25 and includes lunch. The workshop runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is open to film buffs age 12 to 18.

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