Captain America Fight Coordinator James Young Talks Careers in Movie Stunts

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Captain America: Civil War is out now on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD, Digital 3D and On-Demand. It’s Marvel, so you know the drill if you’re in. Basically, this one is Avengers 3 and it’s definitely a better movie than Age of Ultron.

The Blu-ray is loaded with over 60 minutes of bonus material, including director commentary, extended and deleted scenes, making-of featurettes and an exclusive first look at the upcoming Doctor Strange movie.

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James Young (masked) doubling for Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes) on the set.

We talked with Captain America: Civil War fight coordinator James Young about his role in making the movie and got some valuable advice about how readers can pursue a stunt career in the movies.

How did you get into the business?

Getting into stunts is as easy as falling into it. I was a martial artist beforehand. I would teach and I had a good friend of mine that was a stuntman. He invited me to come along to a stunt gym in Los Angeles one day, where a lot of people train. That was it, I just fell in love with it.

I wanted to train more and more, not just the fighting, but the wire work, the filming of stunts, the choreography. Thats where my past really began. I hit the ground and started to shoot my own fights in my spare time as content for YouTube. Eventually, I got looks from Marvel and Captain America 2 happened.

I found some of your videos on YouTube. They’re a lot of fun. When you started doing those, what were you thinking? Was it a visual resume to display what you could do or were you just doing it to entertain yourself?

We were doing it to entertain and train ourselves. We knew that going down to a gym and punching bags and doing choreography in the gym was all good and well, but the best way to get better at fighting on camera is to actually do it.

My good friend Chris Cowan directed those fights and he’s now working on Kingsman, He directed and I was stunt coordinating, fight choreographing with the guys. The videos was only just for us to watch, really, to critique ourselves and get better and to learn the other aspects of film, how to edit and how to shoot.

It’s just crazy that, over one night, one of our fights went viral on a website. By the morning, we had a million views. We started pushing out a bit more content and it just kept snowballing from there.

Did someone at Marvel see your videos and approach you about working for them?

Kind of like it, yeah. I worked on a few little shows and then when Tom Harper, the stunt coordinator for Cap 2, was gearing up for the movie. He saw my stuff and, through word of mouth, I was introduced to him and Marvel at the time. And I shot a preview video of Captain America fighting a few guys in the gym for them, and that’s what got me the job.

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So when we’re watching “Captain America: Civil War” or “Winter Soldier,” what are we looking for to see you? Who are you doubling in the movie?

In Civil War, I so fortunate to double Bucky. I was Sebastian’s double for about half the movie. And then, for the finale sequence, I was Iron Man. That stuff in the finale sequence is just ridiculous fun.

So what’s your advice to people who want to do this for a living? If a 25-year-old man or woman getting out of the military has done some  martial arts training and wants to follow you into the business, what can they do to increase their chances of meeting the right people, getting a job like this?

Part one is networking. It’s going to the right places. You just meet a few people just to get your name out there. A good idea, if you can, is to find a group of people who want to train together and want to shoot footage. If you’ve got a camera, you’re a director, you can shoot a fight. All you need is two people, three people to shoot a fight. One to hold a camera, two to do the performance.

Then go on YouTube, look up Jackie Chan’s fights. Bruce Lee, Jet Li, look at how they shot fight scenes. Replicate some fight scenes so you can feel what it’s like and learn how to shoot from different angles. Keep moving forward is the best advice I can give. If you’ve got a camera and want to do fights, that’s all you need. The rest is up to you.

You got into the business in Los Angeles. You don’t sound like you’re from LA, so I’m guessing at some point you decided to move there.

Yeah, I’m from England. I moved out to California when I was about 16 or 17.

Do you think people need to move to California to get a break in the business?

Not at all. California is a good hub, Los Angeles is a good hub, but now you’ve got places like New York, that’s really found a boom. They’re shooting Daredevil and they’re shooting Iron Fist there and a lot more TV series. Then you have Atlanta. So I think between New York, Atlanta, and L.A., there are good stunt cities where you can get involved with and train with some good people and go from there.

The best advice for getting into this industry is to get yourself a camera. You’ve got to find a small group of good people that you shoot fights with, because you’ll learn so much about yourself. And then, if you feel like it, put the videos online, have people watch them. It’s the best way to get your face out there.

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