Interview With Stuntwoman/Actress Lisa Chandler 

By Ruth on November 27, 2016 in Interview, movie, television
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Because of my association with the Artemis Film Festival, I not only have an appreciation for stuntwomen; I actually seek them out and do my utmost to promote their work whenever I can. I will always claim that festival opened my eyes, and Maja Aro was my instructor for “Stuntwomen 101.” Therefore, I am pleased to share with you my interview with Lisa Chandler, stuntwoman and actress extraodinaire! I was thrilled that she took the time to inform me about how she got started in the business, her favorite and upcoming works and even a bit about her views on gender bias within the industry.
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RH: What inspired you to become a stunt person? What kind of training did you receive for this job?-

LC: My first stunt ever was when I was playing college hockey at Mt. Royal College in Calgary and a film was shooting at a nearby rink. The stunt coordinator and assistant approached our team and lo and behold, I was doubling a girl as a goalie in the film, Chick With Sticks. (Funny fact: The assistant then is a good friend now, and we put two and two together only a few years ago–we were working on a film together–over a beer, laughing at the time when my car broke down after filming and he helped me drag it’s poor ass to a mechanic.) It wasn’t until ten years later when I moved to Vancouver from Toronto trying ANYTHING to get into film (background, stand-in work, acting gigs here and there, etc.) that I was standing in on a film and saw the stunt department and was like, “Yup, that’s my calling!” I showed my interest to the stunt coordinator and Bam! I proved worthy enough for a small stunt! From there, I started to get the ball rolling to form a resume, reel and take every class in anything that got your blood pumping 170 beats/minute!

As for training, I had a mish-mash of a background growing up. Competitively, I played ice hockey, track and field, and swimming. Now, as an adult, I’ve literally immersed myself into any sport that takes credit cards as payment, and that I know will be an asset. My motto is: “Any training is good training.” When I started to realize that the majority of stunt performers had either martial arts or a gymnastics background, I knew I had to make the plunge. I just moved back from Toronto (again!) and was broke as a joke and wanted to jump into martial arts. So I started working at a Taekwondo studio to receive free classes. Best thing I ever did! If you want it, you’ll find a way to make it work!

wp-1477533715823.pngAs a stunt person, what have been some of your most memorable films/shows where you have worked? Why?

I’ve had great relationships with the stunt crew over at Supernatural for the past four years and counting. The guys there are amazing and hilarious to work with and Lou Bollo, the stunt coordinator, is one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I’ve had the privilege to be hired by. Every episode has its own beat as directors change all the time, but the majority of the crew has been together since day one! That’s over ten years as a family. I always feel welcomed when I’m at their home (set) and seem to never skip a beat with some of the boys and their deranged humour. We’ve done wire pulls, firing guns, fight scenes with fake and not-so-fake blood (Sorry, Jensen), breakaway glass, driving “Baby” the car–the list goes on with that show. So many of my friends in the stunt community all say that that show is so much fun, mellow and easygoing to be on. I’ve been very grateful.

What has been your most difficult stunt that you’ve done on set? Your most favorite? 

I’ve got to say that so far in my career, I haven’t had too many mishaps on set that have set me back. However, just this year, I was working on a film using a sharp knife for a close-up shot with a pullout from the sheath. I was to pull it out and make a stab motion. However, there was a leather strand blocking it from coming out smoothly and I ended up slicing my finger to the bone; I had to have surgery to re-connect the tendon. It was killing me that I wasn’t able to work for a bit or go swimming (I had to miss out on a sweet dive trip).

There was a small stunt though, where I was in lingerie, so stunt pads were clearly NOT an option, and it was a stair fall down twenty flights of stairs. It was a domestic dispute scene, and the character I was doubling was to smash her head on a family portrait (the glass is breakaway) on the wall, while falling backwards, then plunging down the stairs. We shot the scene only twice as there was only time for max two takes as well as only two breakaway glass sheets. As I smashed into the portrait, I rolled down the stairs scraping glass and the frame, as it broke off on my lip, slicing it open. I had to lay on the floor not moving to finish the scene, then popped up with a nice “Joker” smile, clearly knowing I cut myself and freaked the crew out.

Any stunt that has water, wire or cars, I’m game! I recently worked on Season one of Dead of Summer with a good friend of mine who also happened to be my boss, Maja Aro, and it had a ton of water days. We were outside in the ocean and then some days in a tank and it was a blast! Underwater scenes are so different than anything above the water as it’s 99.9% mental (relaxing your mind and breath work) and .5% physical. As for wires, descenders are like mini-roller coaster rides. I recently did a descender where I was cranked to the ceiling of a studio warehouse and I could read the emergency evacuation hatch door steps. Selfies from up there are always a double take.

woee.jpgWhat is your daily training regimen?-

I try and do some form of physical activity every day. I’ve never been a “gym rat” or anyone who “hits the gym.”  Can’t stand it. I do, however, love taking group classes. As I mentioned before, I take Taekwondo classes as well as mixed martial arts. I try and circulate my training from film fighting to swimming to trampoline to heading down to LA and tearing it up on the raceway. Any form of training is good training in my books! There’s a saying, “Jack of all trades, Master of None”..well, in this industry, I’ve learned that you have to try and be a master in everything. You want to spread out and take classes from every angle. This past year I was exposed to free-diving via a good friend of mine, Braden Haggerty. She introduced to me Roberta Cenedese who’s an amazing coach and free-diver herself and has opened my eyes to a whole new world (cue Jasmine’s solo). All I can say is I’m hooked!

You also have done some acting. How did that come about?-

I originally started out in front of the camera then transitioned into stunts about six years ago. I try and incorporate both acting and stunts into parts as much as I can have control.

What have been some of your favorite/memorable acting roles?  Why do those particular ones stand out?

Anything with comedy or action are for sure my top picks. I just finished filming an action flick, Seige, that was a ton of fun! I ran around with an M4 all day!  I also just finished a comedy/action short film that I wrote and produced alongside my partner in crime, Alison Araya. We had breakaway glass, stunts, gun fire, you name it! I really like creating my own work as you have total control and you can pretty much make up whatever you want without anyone telling you you “cant do that.” It’s very liberating when you’re making decisions about your own talent, as well as others, when on screen.

Any other upcoming works you can mention? 

I just had the pleasure of playing Maddie Howard on the show Lucifer which aired on November 14th on Fox. {Should be available on demand or online} I also have been recently cast in Altered Carbon, a new Netflix series airing in early 2017. I can’t talk too much about that project as we are still filming, but I can say…”wow, hold on to your knickers!”

img_4114.jpgAny plans to write/direct/produce?

I have in the past produced and I am always writing, but as for directing, so far, no. I have a ton of friends/colleagues that just knock it out of the park when it comes to that specific role, but I just haven’t gravitated towards that “light” yet.  Never say never though. Currently, I’m applying to take part in a local film competition that takes place here in Vancouver, the Crazy 8’s Film Fest, which I’m pumped for!

As a female who not only acts but also does stunts, have you experienced any gender bias? What is your view on this issue in the entertainment business? 

As for “gender bias” in stunts, no. However, when it comes to acting, there’s always a little bias when it comes to specific roles where it is mainly a male-dominated industry–for example, police officers, fire fighters,engineers, etc.–that I feel gender bias is more predominant. Writers/producers still to this day seem to cast only a few females in those sort of roles. It’s hard to wrap their head around the fact that women can and do perform those positions just as strong/equally qualified as males.  I remember auditioning for a security guard on a TV show that ended up saving the female hero (no sexual tension at all), and they could not believe that a female could “save the female” AND be the hero. It was mind-boggling for them! They were searching strictly for a male actor. I had to laugh at it. I said,  “Screw it, I’ll write my own cop show!” Instead I wrote a comedy/action female cop short instead with my partner and had a BLAST doing so.

As for the industry overall, I feel right now is a great time in Hollywood to be a woman as our voices are getting stronger and louder and more people are listening and actually making change! If you look at most shows on TV right now, 42% of the major characters are women, and almost 20% of these shows are written/produced by women. That number was for sure a lot lower in the last five years. But the positive side it, it’s increasing! But by making change (voicing our opinion, taking a stand, creating our own content), those positions will be filled by amazingly talented women, on and off the screen.

What is something about you that most people don’t know?

I sleepwalk. Yup, now it’s out in the open! Weird, I know, right? The furthest I’ve “travelled” was my living room. I wanna set up a Go-Pro and watch the weird crap I do at night. I pretty much want to spy on myself. Is that odd?

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Isn’t Lisa an absolute hoot? I thoroughly adore her outlook, her sense of humor, and even her somewhat irreverent but energetic way she views her chosen profession. There is no doubt in my mind that this woman can accomplish anything she puts her mind to. In fact, if I don’t miss my guess, if someone apprises her that it can’t be done, she immediately accepts the challenge of proving that naysayer wrong! (Oh, I know that feeling well!) I am awestruck by the caliber of Lisa’s talent, her devotion to her craft on all levels, and her pragmatic way of approaching her career. It is with immense anticipation that I look forward to her future endeavors as her star continues its steady (and sometimes laborious) ascent to that moment when she can bask in the fruition of every dream in her heart. Be sure that you follow Lisa at all the links below so that you don’t miss a moment of the  delightful antics of this feisty, gifted woman. And the next time you watch one of your favorite shows, pay careful attention to the action parts because you never know–you may be seeing Lisa (or one of her many cohorts) in action!

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
42-year-old single mother of an active 13-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

1 Comment

  1. Crafty Nunn November 28, 2016 Reply

    That was interesting. I like the GoPro camera suggestion. I would want to know what I did too.
    Crafty Nunn recently posted…Finally Starting AgainMy Profile

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