When we talk about the current glut of cable, streaming, and network television options—often summarized with the John Landgraf-penned nickname “Peak TV”—it’s usually from the perspective of consumers and curators. It can, after all, be bewildering, frustrating, and sometimes just plain exhausting to deal with the sheer number of shows (many of them excellent) all calling for our time and attention, as Hollywood shoves ever more stuff into our faces by the day.
But the rapidly escalating pile of stuff on our DVRs, bookmark lists, and quasi-fanatical recommendations from Twitter mutuals have a human cost on the production side of the current race to the Content Factory, too. That’s something made clear in a new report published today by The Hollywood Reporter, which focuses on the way expanding TV production slates are making it harder for stuntpeople to do their jobs safely.
Hollywood has seen a number of deaths and serious injuries by stuntpeople over the last year—Joi Harris, a first-time performer who died in a motorcycle crash on the set of Deadpool 2, and John Bernecker, who died from a fall during a stunt that went wrong on the set of The Walking Dead, are just two sad examples—and THR’s piece lays the responsibility, at least in part, on what rising production demands have done to the role of stunt coordinator, the person on set whose job it is to plan stunts, evaluate the feasibility of ideas from writers and directors, and, most importantly, ensure that everyone is safe when a stunt is filmed.
That is, unsurprisingly, a job that is both extremely difficult, and extremely specialized, which is why they suddenly find themselves in such short supply. THR doesn’t quote any statistics for the number of “qualified” stunt coordinators working in Hollywood at the moment, but does suggest that standards for the role are falling, at least in part because there’s no certification process for being a stuntperson, or coordinator: All you need is a SAG card, and somebody to hire you. And, well, there are a lot of people hiring people in Hollywood (and Atlanta, and Vancouver) right now. What that means for industry safety standards moving forward remains to be seen.
You can read the full THR piece here.