Risky Business
Written by Jimmy Broyden   

Behind the Scenes of Hollywood Stunts

CapWMeandJackieChanhoosh!  I sank into the water, plummeting ten feet to the bottom.  My body was chained to a BBQ grill, I could not move.  I took a quick breath, testing the mini-scuba tank.  It worked.  I relaxed in the water, as well as the chains would allow.

The divers reached for me, pulling me to the shallow end of the pool, when suddenly I had no air.  I couldn’t shout, the mask and the water would muffle my voice and I would only lose precious air.  I could not use hand signals because my hands were trapped by chains against the BBQ.  I had to lay limp to prevent exerting as much oxygen from my body as possible.  I did the only thing I could, calling out to God while a swirling blackness speckled with stars overtook me.

FullbodyfireburnMy goal, my dream, in life had always been to be a stuntman.  I was 16 when a friend of mine, Chris Garrah (17) and I would borrow his dad’s Plymouth Satellite car to jump railroad tracks out in the country.  Reaching speeds of 70 mph, we would sail up to 20-feet in the air, watching the tops of telephone poles fly past the side windows, and land over 100-feet down the hill, on the other side, on all four tires.

          At 21, I spent several years with world renowned Master Kwok Chan, learning Shoalin / Tai Chi-Kung Fu and weapons before becoming a stuntman.  His martial arts system is an intricate chain-link defense battle plan passed down to him from his master and generations of masters before.  We trained six days a week.  Enrollment was always low and many people came and went because of the brutal intensity.  Master Chan demanded hard work and dedication.  The training was grueling, strenuous, genuine, passionate, traditional and painful, (the first month I broke both of my hands), but it worked.

At 24, I sold my prized comic book collection X-Men, and brand new Micron Medallion skates, to scrape up enough dough to take a stunt course in Toronto for four months.  I would take the Greyhound Bus from Kingston every weekend.  One day I discovered that world famous stuntman Spanky Spangler was going to be in Toronto as a guest on “The Dini Petty Show,” so I took the day off work and drove 2-1/2 hours down the 401 on my Honda 400cc motorcycle to meet him.  The meeting was brief, but Spanky encouraged me to pursue my dream.  I climbed back on my bike and drove back to Kingston.  A few years later, I went to Phoenix to find Spanky.  I located his number in a phone book, called him up and was thrilled to discover that he remembered me, the guy on the motorcycle, and invited me to his home.  There I helped him prep his car for a world-record car jump.

After the stunt course was over, I rented two video cameras and made my own film entitled, “A Day In The Life Of A Stuntman.”  I rode my bike off a 35-foot cliff into the cold November waters mimicking a stunt Dar Robinson did on “Magnum Force.”  In that movie, being chased by Clint Eastwood, he drove a police motorcycle off the deck of an aircraft carrier some 100-feet high, landing in the ocean.  Soon after that, I set up and executed a 40-foot high fall for a Queen’s University student film.  Then, a few days later, I packed my bags and moved to Vancouver.  My first paying stunt was two months later.  It was the pivot point in my career.  I had become a professional stuntman.

As a rookie stuntman on Black Cat 2, I fired machine guns and got shot, getting “killed” over twenty times.  On a break between camera set-ups with the rest of the stunt guys, we were talking and I asked the Chinese director how I could be in so many shots and be killed so many times.  “The audience will know it’s me over and over,” I said.  “No, you white guys all look the same to us in China,” he replied.  We all had a big laugh and he had me killed again in the next shot.
Later in my career, I found myself chained to a BBQ while doubling for an actor in The Fear 2: Happy Halloween.  My hands were pinned behind my back.  Two actors grabbed me and threw me into the deep end of the pool, and I sank 10-feet to the bottom.FilmstripThe Stunt Coordinator had told me about the risk of the gag (in the business we calls stunts “gags”) the previous day and said if I didn’t want to do it that would be understandable.  I decided to take the job and trust the Lord to see me through.  I have never said no to a stunt.

I had a tiny breathing apparatus with five minutes of air hidden in my shark head wardrobe costume, which was to sustain me while I waited at the bottom of the pool for two safety divers to extract me from the deep end, take me to the shallow end under water, and lift me up.

The regulator faltered just before I came up.  I thought it was a small glitch.  In stunts, small glitches happen.  You correct them and do the shots again.  I discreetly told the Special Effects Divers what had happened.  They apologized and were dumbfounded the apparatus had failed.

The Director yelled, “We have to do it again, he didn’t sink fast enough.”  The Special Effects Divers assured me it would not fail again.  I asked the Lord to help me stay calm and focused just in case.  More sand bags were added to the base of the BBQ so it would sink faster.  The two actors picked me up with the BBQ, threw me in again and I sank like a rock.  The apparatus was working.  I looked to the shallow end waiting for the divers.  They grabbed me and began taking me to the shallow end, when suddenly I had no air.

The mini-scuba tank had failed again.  However, this time it failed much sooner than it had before.  I would have much longer to wait for air.  If I panicked, adrenaline would pulse through my body causing my heart rate to increase and lose valuable oxygen in my blood.  With no way to communicate, I was in way over my head on this one.  Closing my eyes, I called out to the Lord and rested in Him as darkness took over.  I saw stars swimming in the black haze behind my eyes.  I was sure it was over.  When the divers lifted me out of the water, I thirstily took a gulp of sweet fresh air.  They had no idea the breathing apparatus had failed again.

I have been a professional stuntman and Stunt Coordinator for twenty years.  I have worked in over 100 films with several celebrity actors including Jackie Chan, Harrison Ford, Will Smith, Jean Claude Van Damme, Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Kris Kristofferson and many more.

I have a Christian film company called “On Fire Films.”  I work with Christian filmmakers and bring Hollywood style stunts to their films.  I am a member of The Hollywood Stuntmen’s Hall of Fame and on its Board of Directors.  With the Lord’s help, I have begun in several ventures, including a Down’s Syndrome foundation.
My sons, Isaac at age (12) and Jesse at age (8) launched a film company, Broyden Bros. Pictures.  In just two years, they produced over 20 short films!

Dreams involve risk.  Some chase dreams for glory, some for purpose.  I realized my dreams when I took the backseat and let purpose, in fact let God, share the risk and do the driving. PivotPointEndingBug
 
Contact me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
or for stunt coordination for your film, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
jimmybroyden.com.

On Fire Films / Impact Stunts For Christ
Jimmy Broyden Down Syndrome Foundation

I am also available as a Motivational/ Keynote/School/Faith-Based Speaker
Broyden Motorsports — The B.O.M.B.
(Broyden Outreach Motorsport Branch)” 

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