Whether it be walking and tripping, or jumping through a window or flying through the air into the water, stunts can be small and large all depending on what is going on in a scene. But in the HAVEN world, stunts tend to be much more exaggerated and elaborate than you might expect simply due to the supernatural element that lends itself to larger than life kinds of action. From the small stunts to the ones that take hours and days of preparation, special consideration and care goes into each and every one. In a recent exclusive interview, stunt coordinator Randy Boliver talked about the stunt challenges in the HAVEN world.
How do you describe your job as far as coordinating stunts? You probably read each episode script just see what’s going on as far as the action, but how do you block it out?
RANDY: I’ll get the script and I’ll go through it with a fine-tooth comb, diligently, and then I’ll write down every piece of action and everything that I see that may be a safety concern. After that we’ll have our first stunt meeting and we’ll discuss the type of action that the director wants. ‘Cause I’m a stuntman, I’ll read any action scene and I’ll think, “Let’s do this,” and it’s not always big. A lot of times it is just me showing up and providing safety for the actors. It could be just putting down a nice cushy pad so that they can run and dive. ‘Cause it’s not like they are always going through a wall or anything like that. Though I love it when we can bring the ratchet in and we have all the cables and we can hit the button and someone goes flying off the boat or just around the studio. I love that kind of stuff. But that does put a lot more pressure on me and a little more stress, and there’s budget concerns as well. We look after the budget and we spend it like it was my own. So we try to work everything so that we can get it done in 8 hours. If we can, that’s great.
What’s been the biggest stunt you’ve done or coordinated on HAVEN?
RANDY: We’ve had some really nice ones. We’ve done so much, it’s like: which one? But a few seasons back, there was the mer-men episode. That one there. In the show, there’s so much you don’t see ’cause so much ends up on the cutting room floor. But there was so much involved in that. I had guys standing on the bottom of the ocean with a cable tied to them. In the concept meeting, we talked about having these guys who are Troubled and they have to live under the water — they breathe water and they have to train to breathe under water — so it was: how are we going to do this? How are we going to have these mer-men come up out of the water like a dolphin and go so high that they actually land on the wharf? And it has to look like a fish who has come out of the water and the landing has to be finessed because it has been going on for years. So in order to set that up we had to shoot it in reverse. I put an anchor on the bottom of the ocean off of the wharf, and I put a floating black-line so that the camera wouldn’t read it, and we had the guys in a jerk-vest with cable coming from the vests, a boom over the water, and it’s all connected with a series of pullies and anchors into the ratchet. Then the water temperature was low 50′s — it was freezing cold — so these guys, they get in there and they swim and we have safety divers all suited up, so they reach down and find the tip of this black floating line and they start pulling themselves down to the bottom of the ocean floor and once they feel the cable come tight on their vest, they have to hold themselves there and allow the water to settle — ’cause there had been some ripples. So I told them, once I feel the cable come tight, I’ll know you’re at your limit and then we’ll count to five, which will give time for the water to settle and on “5″ I’m hitting the button. They then have to let go, ’cause if they try to hang on, it would rip their hands right off. Then as they break the water they have to get themselves in that dolphin body position with their heads up and their shoulders back, just like they are shooting up out of the water. They were doing really good, particularly as they’re freezing and can’t shiver. So they come up so far and are just hanging there, and then we do the other part of that, where we take the air ramp, which is another cinematic device that they stand on, kind of like a large suitcase, and they would stand on it and do a countdown. They would do the countdown themselves because if I were to do it, it seemed to throw their timing off. So as soon as they said 3-2-1-action, I would would hit the button and it would catapult them off and over the wharf going backwards. But even as they are shot backwards, they have to get themselves in that straight position so that we could film them landing straight going into the water. Then we play it back and it looks like they are flying up and landing on the wharf.
How long did all that take?
RANDY: It was a full 10 hours just in rehearsals because we needed to have the exact pressure that we needed. We had to have the cables the exact length for everything to work. Everything has to be so precise. The pressure of the air ram — ’cause the air ramp would have to be on the wharf and we had pads and spotters there and we’d do it until they were comfortable in that position — then we’d start doing it off the wharf into the water.
How do you recruit people for that kind of work?
RANDY: I have so many people come to me and say, “I want to do stunts.” Before I would take the time and it would sometimes take me a couple of hours chatting with them, and I’d explain everything right from the beginning. When I first started nobody would take the time, and it was very hard. But I was determined and I kept at it. People that are doing stunts, it’s very natural for them. Then there’s other people who come up to me and say they want to do stunts, but they aren’t natural at it and they may even be a great athlete. Now I just say: “If you want to be a stuntman or stuntwoman, I want you to go out and jump up and land on your back 10 times on the floor; then I want you to go jump off a rooftop 10 times; then call me. Is that really what you want to do?” Since I’ve been saying that, not one person has called me back. (Laughs) Everybody on my team has approached me one way or another. There’s the odd time that I’ll see somebody that seems to have some good natural abilities. Then they also have to have the right mindset: that when you’re in it, you have to commit to it. For example, if my feet are kicked out from underneath me, and I have to land flat on my back ’cause I’m supposed to be dead, my hands can’t reach out to break my fall. I have to take the full fall. Take after take after take, it hurts. But we wear as much protection as we can that wardrobe will allow. Sometimes it is very little; sometimes we may only have one elbow pad on or one hip pad. Wardrobe does work with us, particularly if it is something very dangerous. Like Jordan’s stunt double for doing the staircase fall last year in the haunted house episode; she was a little bit bigger, but wardrobe took and added protective pieces into the wardrobe to help her add a bit of protection. I’m the very worst one. When a director wants to see what a stunt will look like, I’ll just do it and I won’t have any pads on. My wife is always saying: “Why is it the more bruised up you are, the happier you are? You get off on this.” But it is like an adrenaline-rush. Yet we do it as safe as possible because there is a responsibility with it as well. But it’s the repetitious thing. Sometimes I’ll go up to the actors and say, “There’s nothing big about this, like we may just want you to go down on one knee or hip, so let’s throw some knee pads on you.” And they’ll be like, “Oh no, I’m just going down on my knee.” So then I’ll go up and jab them in the shoulder with my finger and I say, “Did that hurt?” and they say, “No.” Then I do it 20 times and then I ask, “Does that hurt?” and they’ll say, “Yeah, stop doing that.” And I’ll say, “Well, that’s Take 20.” It’s the repetition part of it. Anybody can do it once.
What is the success rate of doing stunts for HAVEN?
RANDY: Not to say everything goes 100%, but we’re very fortunate. We’re always given enough rehearsal time and everything we need for safety. So there’s no issues on the show. But I always say, “The more takes you do, eventually something might go wrong.” So I tell the directors, “Once you got the shot, that’s it.” That’s how we keep it safe.
Looking through the lens of safety and yet trying to make each sequence look as real as possible, it is simply extraordinary what the special stunt men and woman of HAVEN are able to do.
In a fun video clip, Randy shares his unique viewpoint on whether he is Team Nathan or Team Duke and what surprise he has loved the most from the first couple seasons of HAVEN:
To see more of the incredible stunt work performed by Randy and his team, be sure to tune in as HAVEN returns for its 4th season on Friday, September 13th at 10:00 p.m. on Syfy. #DiscoverHaven
Tiffany Vogt is the Senior West Coast Editor, contributing as a columnist and entertainment reporter to TheTVaddict.com. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at Tiffany_Vogt_2000@yahoo.com or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).