How are stunts prepared for action films and series?

Posted on 2021-08-02

OS AUSENTES, the first Brazilian Max Originals, has just premiered on HBO Max. The production depicts the work of the “Ausentes” agency, which specializes in investigating cases of missing persons in the city of São Paulo. 

Throughout the episodes, we follow stories about different characters in search of answers about the disappearance of their friends and family. And we see protagonists Erom Cordeiro and Maria Flor face intense action scenes with the help of a stunt team. 

Actress Maria Flor plays Maria Júlia, a journalist who, after the mysterious disappearance of her father, flees from Buenos Aires and goes to work at this agency alongside Raul Fagnani, played by Erom Cordeiro, an ex-police chief who decides to open “Austenes” after the disappearance of his daughter, Sofia. 

With many action scenes in which the actors also have to deal with a great deal of drama, the 10-episode series includes fight scene coordination by stuntmen Gutemberg Lins and Daniel Galvão, from Action Kung Fu – one of the first companies to specialize exclusively in martial arts for the productions of series, films, advertising campaigns and music videos.  

The role of stunt doubles in Brazil is becoming more and more professionalized. Today, for example, there exist schools and theatre courses centered around this field. Action Kung Fu, for example, offers fight scene workshops where participants experience choreographed fight scenes. There also exists the Tactical Training Center for Stunt Performers and Actors, which offers refresher courses for professionals already in the business, as well as complete courses for those who have never had contact with the activity. 

It is differentiated training because in addition to special physical preparation, the professional stunt person must also act out movements such as falling down a ladder, being run over or jumping into a river. And of course, all without suffering any physical harm. Additionally, they must also study fight choreography, called “action design”, in order to develop the concept for the final product.

To create the action scenes, the production sends a briefing to the stunt team, which usually integrates the work’s entire script into a second document rendered with just images of the action. Based on this description, the team details how the action will be. Once on scene, there are other precautions: in addition to the safety equipment needed in order to protect the body of the stuntmen, there are also certain restrictions. If by chance there happens to be a shooting scene, as in OS AUSENTES, there must be prior authorization from the Brazilian Army, advising them of how many shots will be fired during the scene, and afterwards, all blank cartridges must be returned.

OS AUSENTES is a WarnerMedia Latin America and Panorâmica production for HBO Max, produced by Silvia Fu Elias, Mara Lobão and Rodrigo Montenegro, with executive production by Vanessa Jardim. The series includes the general direction by Caroline Fioratti and direction by Raoni Rodrigues. The project was created by Maria Carmem Barbosa and Thiago Luciano, with screenwriting from Thiago Luciano, Renê Belmonte and Bruno Passeri. All episodes are now available exclusively on HBO Max.