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Jay Kealy is a stunt performer from Melbourne Australia. Jay started training to be a stunt performer in 2011, going on to his debut role in New Zealand indie feature ‘Contract Killers’. The lure of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit series kept him in New Zealand, where he performed battle scenes as an Orc in ‘The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug and  The Battle of the Five Armies’. 

Jay then went on to become a Spartan warrior in the series ‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’, also shot in New Zealand. Since then he has worked on such films and TV shows as ‘The Shannara Chronicles’, ‘The Adventures of Tintin’, ‘Roman Empire - Barbarian’ ‘Power Rangers’, and ‘800 Words’. Jay Kealy is extremely passionate about stunts and is currently in training for his next big role!

Jay’s Bio

Stunt Performer – The Hobbit, The Adventures of Tintin, Spartacus: Blood & Sand, 

In my final year of school I was training on weekends with a stunt coordinator in Melbourne, which set me up really well when an opportunity came up in New Zealand. I was fortunate enough to be put in contact with a stunt coordinator who needed performers, so I moved to NZ and from there I worked my way up.

1.  How did you get your start in the film industry?

Well there’s no regular day as a stunt performer. Similar to most Film & TV jobs, you spend a good bit of time waiting around, and then, all of a sudden, it’s go time! Many of the jobs I’ve been on have involved lots of fighting, falling, dying, getting shot and being thrown around on wires. It’s safe to say every day is different to the last, which is another thing I love about it!

2.  Can you describe a regular ‘day at  the office’ for you?

One of the biggest challenges would have to be juggling the work, or lack of it at times. As anyone in the film industry would know, it can be hit and miss with jobs, but as a stunt performer it can be even more inconsistent, as not all productions have stunts. I’ve had to manage irregular pay-checks whilst also keeping up all of my training disciplines - which are not cheap. This has been a big challenge at times.

3.  What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome to get

     where you are now?

I’ve been really fortunate on set in terms of things not going wrong! Aside from all the near-misses when performing technical fight scenes in ridiculous weather conditions with costumes that have zero visibility, I still managed to avoid losing my head for real, so I’ve had it pretty damned good!

Every job I’ve been on has been amazing and all have got reasons to be my favourite. The Hobbit Trilogy was incredible as I learnt so many new skills and got to work with some of the most talented people in the industry. Spartacus was awesome as it was constant fighting. The Shannara Chronicles last year was definitely up there as I was a stunt double and got to do some seriously cool stunts. Any one of the jobs I’ve done could be my favourite.

5.  You’ve worked on a huge number of productions, which was your

     favourite and why?

To avoid burnout I mix my trainings - every day I train something but I’ll make sure to avoid training the same things too many days in a row. For example, if I train a hard martial arts, or gymnastics session, I’ll do a recovery session at the beach, or the pool the following morning. I consistently work on movement and flexibility to prevent injury. Staying passionate - now that’s the easy part! I love being on set and every day I get to do any stunt work, whether it be minor or highly technical and dangerous, is a great day. So staying passionate comes naturally!

6.  Filmmaking is an all-consuming career. What do you do to avoid

     burnout and stay passionate?

Depending on the stunt and budget you may not be able to afford a stunt coordinator, but I would still recommend getting in contact with one to get advice. I would make sure that who ever is doing the stunt is fully capable of it and knows all the different variables involved, Ideally you would get in a professional stunt performer.

7.   A lot of safety preparation and planning goes into even the smallest

     of stunts. Is there any advice you can give indie filmmakers who need

     a stunt performed for their film?

If you’re in Australia you need to get your Stunt Actor Provisional (SAP) grading to become a stunt performer so work towards completing all the components for that. In The US and the UK, you need to get qualified in the Joint Industry Stunt Committee (JISC). Also, I would recommend you meet with other performers/ coordinators for any stunt specific training.

8.  What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to

     someone who’s looking to become a stunt performer?

In Australia there are 6 different categories of stunt qualification. They include body control, animals, water, heights, vehicles and fire. To get started, you need to be competent in 4 out of the 6. 

9.  What are the steps you have to go through to become a

     professional stunt person?

I couldn’t pin point it to one specific film, but any of Jackie Chan’s films would have been amazing to work on! If you haven’t seen any, watch them! They are full of epic stunts!

10.  What one film in cinema history would you have loved to have

       worked on and why?

4.  They say whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. What’s the most

     ridiculous thing that’s gone awry on a job?

Jay Kealy

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