'The Holdovers' Stunt Coordinator Reveals Her Path To Becoming a Successful Producer
Multi-hyphenate stunt coordinator-producer Amy Greene shares per path from stunt department to executive producing Sundance entry Suncoast.
To simply say that Amy Greene is a successful stunt coordinator is underplaying her career big time.
Greene, who just this year stunt coordinated five-time Oscar nominated The Holdovers, and both Executive Produced and Stunt Coordinated for Fox Searchlight Sundance entry Suncoast, is no stranger to working on leaving her imprint on big projects and making a name for herself in largely impactful ways in the filmmaking space.
To drop a few more credits, Greene also worked on 2019 Sundance entry Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (Co-producer, stunt coordinator, stunt performer), co-produced major blockbusters like Independence Day: Resurgence and Alien: Covenant, and worked the stunt department in various different capacities for Oscar-nominated films Don't Look Up and The Sound of Metal. Not to mention she stunt doubled for Meryl Streep for Only Murders in the Building (no big deal).
No Film School was lucky enough to chat with Greene, who shared some invaluable insight on how to get started working in stunt departments, the different intricacies of producer's various titles, and how sometimes the most important thing to remember in film is to, above all, be kind.
The following quotes from Amy Greene are edited for clarity.
Want to Become a Stunt Double or Coordinator? Here's How
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
Courtesy of film-grab.com
"So people ask me how to get into stunts all the time, or often people will say, how do I get my kids into stunts? My son is 10 and he loves jumping off the house, these kind of things. But I think the best background for sure is either martial arts or gymnastics to get into the stunt industry.
If you're not already doing one of the two, then it's a pretty tough road. Not that anyone can't learn to do anything they want, but I think a really solid background in martial arts or a fighting sport or gymnastics is really key. And then the stunt hustle is a big part of the business, just meeting people, introducing yourself, and then trying to train or trying to shadow and learn from some of the other stunt coordinators.
That's what I did. I watched a lot of the big stunt coordinators work.
And then I have a mentor, Kurt Bryant, and all the guys at ISA (the International Stunt Association). And once I got in with them, they really helped me find the kind of unique [training spots]—jump off a scaffolding place, or the place where you go motion picture driving clinic, you can do a two week course on driving cars and crashing cars and stuff. So there's lots of ways to learn, but I would say, yeah, gymnastics and martial arts are important.
I got into it in a funny way, and I do think I'm the only stunt coordinator, producer hyphenate that I know. But maybe I'm setting the groundwork for some other people to do the same, some really talented people in the stunt world.
I worked in movies when I was younger. I was always an athlete, a gymnast, a dancer, and a boxer. And I was in LA, and I was working in production on movies. And then in my spare time or nights and weekends, I would be boxing, and eventually someone said, 'why don't you combine the two since you're already an athlete and taking hits regularly, why don't you do that for movies?'
[I started] working [as a stunt double] on studio films the first few years of my career, so I was able to watch really impressive big stunt coordinators like Jeff Habberstad on X-Men: First Class and get kind of a front seat to watching some of the most exceptional stunts out there.
Then I started learning a little more fight choreography, doing all of that first and then some wire work, and then driving and fire and all of the other fun stuff that we do and stunts.
So I've always kind of done it side by side. If a movie needs a lot of stunts, like bigger stunts or chases or a ton of attention and a ton of work, then I'll stunt [double] and stunt coordinate the film. But on some of our smaller indie features I'm able to produce with my partner, and then also find creative cool ways to stunt coordinate. So on the producing side, I know I'm an EP on Suncoast, but I have production managed, line produced, produced films front to back, co-produced, all of that kind of stuff. So the whole world of producing is that side."
What's the Difference Between a Line Producer and Executive Producer?
The Sound of Metal
Courtesy of film-grab.com
"I think [producing] is one of the most confusing titles in the film industry because sometimes people give producing credit to people on low budget films in exchange for not being able to pay them very much. You might hand out an Associate Producer, Co-producer credit, and then sometimes representation and other people get kind of producer-like credits.
But as far as the functional job, in my mind, in my experience on the producing side, it came up through production coordinating, production supervising, and then in production managing, you can jump into the DGA if you're able to and become a Unit Production Manager (UPM). And then the person that the UPM is working for is the Line Producer.
The Line Producer is the person who knows what every single cent, where every single cent is going, and what everything means. I would say it's very hard to ever become a good Line Producer without having done the jobs on set that you're in charge of.
People coming up learning to make movies, if you want to be a Line Producer, I suggest working in the Art Department, and working in camera, and learning everything you can in every other departments, because, again, a good Line Producer really knows that. So that when you have a conversation as a Line Producer with someone in the Camera Department, you can speak the language and know what a piece of camera equipment costs, or the difference between spherical or anamorphic lenses and really talk to that person. So I think the Line Producer is usually the most educated on the day-to-day work on set.
Then producing the films that I've produced, those are movies that I either got a script or found a story or a script and took it from inception to distribution. And I think producer credits should be reserved for that so that we know that's who really took the whole film the whole way.
An Executive Producer (EP) credit is also very confusing. Sometimes someone on the studio side a lot of times will get an EP credit, so someone who maybe was the executive overseeing the film, but maybe had never set foot on set.
Other times an EP credit goes to someone who produced a part of the film. So on Suncoast, [my husband and producing partner] and I got the script. I think Woody and Laura were already attached, and good producing friends of ours, Kevin Chinoy and Francesca Silvestri (Tangerine, The Florida Project) said, 'Hey, do you want to make this movie with us?' And we said yes, but we, because of our schedule, washed our hands of the film after production.
And so it goes into post, and we see a couple of cuts, but we don't really—we're not there every day on set [or in the editing bay]. That was Kevin, Francesca, and Jeremy. But yeah, so I think a lot of times EP credit can be maybe someone who's produced a portion of the film, or could be a studio person. You never know.
This is the Most Important Tool in Every Filmmakers Kit
Courtesy of Sundance Institute
"Above all of that, in both cases, producing and in stunts, and when I am hiring people on a whole movie, or in the stunt department, I look for people who are kind.
I know that seems maybe kind of trite, but kindness goes further than anything else in this world. Moviemaking is really hard. We all work very long hours, we're all intensely dedicated to what we do, and [are] passionate.
It can be emotional, it can be hard to take care of your physical health and your mental health. So I think kindness is one of the best attributes that anyone can have to making a good film career."
Suncoast to hit select theaters Friday February 2nd.