August 31, 2007 / 3:51 PM / in 12 years

Get set on fire, hit by car at NYC stunt school

NEW YORK (Reuters) - He falls down stairs, is blown up and gets hit by cars for money — and now stuntman Teel James Glenn will pass on his skills to would-be daredevils at what is being touted as New York City’s first stunt school.

Stunt man Bob Cotter (R) leaps through the air following fellow stunt man Anthony Persad onto a large air bag at the "Hollywood Stunts" instructional facility in New York August 29 2007. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

In a vacant lot in the Bronx, students will be able to learn tricks of the trade, such as how to jump from a 50-foot-high (15 metre-high) platform, at Hollywood Stunts professional training centre.

“I’m usually the big goon going, ‘Hey you can’t go down there.’ And then I get knocked down the stairs or set on fire,” said Glenn, 52, of his key movie roles during a 30-year career.

Glenn, who described his specialties as stair falls and sword fights, is one of 17 instructors at the school founded by Bob Cotter, a 14-year veteran of the industry who spent several years looking for a location and securing insurance.

The first courses, ranging from four days to three weeks, are due to begin in September. Children aged 10 to 17 can also take an eight-week course to learn skills such as tumbling, trampoline, falls, and bungee pulls.

“There is a lot of interest in stunt work and it’s not only for stunt people; it’s also for people who want to do theme park shows and people that just want a challenge for themselves, to fight their fears,” said Cotter, 55.

“Not everybody wants to be a stuntman. They just want to come and get the adrenaline rush and see what it’s all about,” he said. “It takes all kinds of people.”

That adrenaline rush comes with a price tag of $800 for a four-day course, while three weeks costs $2,800.

Tall scaffolding and a large yellow and pink air cushion for teaching high falls dominates the school’s yard, which is also littered with other stunt equipment that includes a set of bright blue stairs, a mini-trampoline and a stunt car.

Poised about 30 feet (nine metres) above the air cushion, stuntman Stephen Bodi, who is learning to become an instructor, prepares for his first jump. He throws himself forward and kicks out his legs so he lands on his back.

“That wasn’t so bad,” laughed Bodi, who described himself as a martial arts expert, as he rolled off the cushion.

Just moments earlier Bodi, 37, had been hit by the Hollywood Stunts car, rolling across the hood and cracking the windshield before falling to the ground and pretending to be hurt, as he would if the movie cameras were rolling.

“I would rather be lit on fire than get hit by a car, and I would rather get hit by a car than do a high fall, because I am just learning and don’t like heights,” he said.

Glenn said people needed to be a little afraid, even experienced stunt experts, or they would get hurt.

“You can’t be this fake macho because this will get you or somebody else hurt and that’s reprehensible,” he said. “They say there are old stuntmen and bold stuntmen but no old, bold stuntmen.”

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