Last August, SJ Harris, the stunt woman doubling for Zazie Beetz, died in a tragic motorcycle accident while filming on the set of Deadpool 2, much to the shock of her fellow cast mates.
Now, the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists is trying to take steps to better protect performers.
Deadline is reporting that SAG-AFTRA’s board of directors has finally agreed upon a new Stunt Coordinator Minimum General Standards Eligibility Process Guideline designed to help studios better find coordinators with more experience — the idea being that the more experience a coordinator has, the less likely on-set accidents are to occur.
Coordinators with 500 days or more of working on movie and TV sets can be included on the registry, something National Stunt Committee Chair Cort Hessler says is a strong first step in the right direction because currently, there aren’t really any guidelines in place for who qualifies to be a stunt coordinator. Hessler told Deadline:
“I think it’s a foundation and a good start. This will help with having experienced stunt coordinators rather than just anybody, because there’s nothing right now. If there’s an accident and someone is not on that list, I’d imagine insurance companies will ask why. That’s what I think is going to happen.”
Understandably, the new guideline and its registry, which one is not required to apply for, has been the subject of concern for some people just breaking into the industry who see the potential for this to become a kind of barrier to entry for those without much experience. But Los Angeles’ SAG-AFTRA president Jane Austin insists that’s not at all the case.
“This is not a qualification process, and it’s not going to prevent anybody from getting work,” Austin told Deadline. “If anything, it’s going to help smaller locals.”