John Cann’s Stunt Workshop at The Movie Institute

All I can say is WOW! What a great workshop yesterday at The Movie Institute. Stuntman John Cann is an amazing teacher, and has been a stunt man or stunt coordinator in over a hundred movies. I was a little bit worried that he’d think we were just kids, but he treated us like we were just actors learning a set of moves for a film.  It was great!

The Movie Institute Stunt Workshop

Megan Dalby was in the class with me, along with a couple of other kids I didn’t know.  I met her on the set of Gallows Road — she played the lead kid character, Puck Knight, but I was just an extra. Dakota Buchanan introduced me to her during a break or I probably wouldn’t have met her — extras don’t always get to meet the lead actors unless they have a scene together.  It was nice to get to work with her in the workshop. I hope we get to work together again soon. She’s with Linda McAlister Talent, too, but I hadn’t met her before Gallows Road.

Anyway, we learned blocking, handling swords, and all kinds of stage combat moves. It was awesome. I’m going to read John Cann’s book, The Stunt Guide, and try to practice what he showed us.  One of the things he stressed was how important safety is.  The hand-out from the workshop includes questions actors should ask about stunts and on-set safety, as well as emergency procedures in case anyone gets hurt on set.

There are sections on camera angles, creating a “backstory” for your character (even if he’s only an action player), and how to read a SAG-AFTRA contract. There are interviews with famous stuntmen, too.  It’s a lot of information, and I can’t wait to read it.

This was my second workshop at The Movie Institute. but it won’t be my last. There’s another stunt workshop in August, one on making horror films, and over spring break there’s one on making music videos. I won’t be in town for Kamp Hollywood (the 15th summer camp at the movie institute) — I’ll be at Circus Smirkus (can’t wait!) — but I am going to try to be home in time for the stunt workshop in August. Maybe I can go to some of the others, too.

The Movie Institute has workshops for kids who want to act, direct, or write movies, and a lot of workshops where you get hands-on experience editing, filming and actually making movies. And the teachers I’ve had have been great. So if you’re a kid in North Texas (or anywhere close by) and you want to get into the movie business, this is a great place to start.

4 thoughts on “John Cann’s Stunt Workshop at The Movie Institute

  1. Kameron – I’m so glad you liked it! My name is Eric Jewell, I’m the head of the production dept at The Movie Institute. We are always looking to bring fun and new workshops and camps to life, each and every month. It’s cool that you’re going to Circus Smirkus, I got to shoot a little documentary on that camp in Vermont a few years back – it was a cool gig. Keep an eye on our website calendar – we’ll be adding new things into the mix every month! I’ll make sure I tell John Cann what an awesome time you had.

  2. Thanks, Mr. Downs! I saw a picture of you with a machete in Hobbiton, so it looks like you already know how to use a sword.

    No broken bones in the stunt workshop, though. John Cann talked a lot about doing stunts safely!

  3. Hi, Mr. Jewell —

    Yes, this will be my second year at Circus Smirkus — I love it! I take classes and perform with the Lone Star Circus here in Dallas, and work out with the Circus Freaks on Tuesday and Thursday nights — we’re on the second level at Valley view, right above The Movie Institute. It’s 8-10 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday night, so if you’re ever in the mall at that time, stop by — loads of great circus performers there every week.

    I have really liked both of the workshops I’ve taken at The Movie Institute, and will keep looking for more that I can come to. Sometimes it’s hard, because of my school and circus schedule, and because of the regular acting classes I take at Nancy Chartier Studio. But if I can, I will definitely be back at The Movie Institute!

    I’d love to see your film about Circus Smirkus if you have a link to it. They are really great people!

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