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Shortland Street

Weeknights at 7pm | TV2

Behind the scenes: Stunt Coordinator

Behind the scenes filming a stunt for Shortland Street

It's one of the most dangerous jobs on the show!

We go behind the scenes with Shortland Street's stunt coordinator, Craig Dunn and he gives us a sneak peek at a stunt coming up in the Christmas cliff hanger...

Tell us a bit about your background.

I've been doing stunts now for 15 years in NZ and Australia. I started off working on Hercules and Xena and that was my introduction into doing stunts. I've got a martial arts background and I've been doing martial arts now for about 15 years. That was my kick start in the film industry doing stunts. Then I moved to Australia and worked over there for four years and have been coordinating now for about five years. 

Working in this job is a bit like being a rugby player there's a lot of injuries along the way but you just take those onboard and keep going.

How long have you been working on Shortland Street?

I've been working on Shorty since 1999. My first stunt was doing a dog attack.

What big stories have you been involved in on Shorty?

I've done most of the cliff hanger scenes. We had the big falling off the cliff scene last year with Kieran in last year's 90 minute special. Most of the fight scenes and action sequences that they put together I've pretty much been involved with. It's been good. The cliff hangers are usually quite exciting. It's a good one to work on as you get a lot more freedom.

Can you give us a sneak peek at the stunts coming up in the Christmas cliffhanger?

This year's cliff hanger was about making the action look as realistic as possible. It's quite a technical scene, stunt-wise, and we had to coordinate the actors' movements properly to make the scene believable.

It was more making the fight look quite realistic and selling that the accident with Jill getting stabbed looked realistic. We were working with live blade and then we also had prop knives. It was about making it believable that it could actually happen that way. It was more a technical sort of fight structure and wasn't like a big fight scene. It was very technical wwith how we did the knife scene and how we make it all move.

What has been your most memorable scene?

I was doing a cliff fall off this 150 ft cliff in Green Bay and I was in a wire falling down to the bottom. That was a hard day. A lot of things can go wrong when you're just hanging on a wire off a high cliff. It's dangerous stuff. But it can quite entertaining to watch when it goes wrong, like in the video below.  It's probably the most memorable I've done.

Tell us about a typical day working on a big stunt scene like the Christmas cliff hanger.

We would get all the scripts and a breakdown of what the requirements are and we would go to on location reccies to make sure they're all safe and that we can achieve the stunt we need to do. Then we work out the stunt doubles and who is going to double the actors.

Next we'd have the rehearsals on set and work out what the actors can do, what they can't do and where [in the scene] it's going to be in dangerous for them. We try to do as much as we can with the actors but it really comes down to insurance at the end of the day and if we would be putting them in jeopardy.

That's where we have to get professional stunties (stunt people) to actually do those stunts safely.

Then what we do is rehearse the scene with the stunties and we fit the actors in where we can. Finally we shoot it twice - once with the actors and once with the stunties doing it all again.

You've also recently worked on Auckland Daze?

Yes, I've been doing the fight scenes on Auckland Daze and that's been fun. It's been fun to do a bit of comedy fighting. 

I put together the golf ninja scene with Glen . I wanted something funny to have Glen look cool and display ninja styles.

Kazuhiro Yokoyama is one of the top Japanese stunties in the world. He's incredible and Glen's a great stuntie as well so it was good to put something really cool together and show off their talents.

Catch Shortland Street, weeknights at 7pm on TV2