28 July 2006

Steve Mestdagh - the stuntman

Yesterday, I had my 15 seconds of fame. I was a stuntman double for Sfc. Mike McNaughton. Mike lost his leg, due to a landmine, in Afghanistan. (Check the link. Yeah, we actually look sort of similar after I got my hair cut to military length.)

A friend of a friend turned me on to a talent agency that was looking for .. get this .. a right legged amputee who is an experienced climber. Due to lack of applicants, I got the job. :-)

The film was a patriotic music video for the Lonestar Bluegrass band. It was to be about 4 minutes long. There must have been 50 people directing, filming, lighting and assisting the 2 actors and the stuntman, me. It must have cost a fortune. The film crew was from Los Angeles.

The video has two stories. Mike and his athletic comeback and a woman, played by Brit Roberts, who put herself thru school working at IHOP. Mike was filmed running, which he did fine by himself, and climbing. I climbed with Brit on one climb - the classic, first pitch of the Bastille Crack. I also rigged a toprope on a climb that goes up the side of the Whale's Tail. Not many good anchors to be had on the Whale's Tail but I found solid placements. Don't want anyone dieing on film!

After I setup the toprope, it started raining. Christie, the beautiful and sassy producer, asked me if I could still get the ropes up there if it's wet. I said for an extra $500 dollars, no problem. She laughed and said she liked my attitude. I think I could go far in show biz. :-)

The rain stopped and we did the top rope session. For this, the camera was mounted on rails, like a train, and slid back & forth with the film guy looking down into the camera. After the top rope session and ... many up & downs for Mike & Brit, it was time for the Bastille Crack. A PA (production assistant) said he'd carry my pack over. I couldn't dissuade him and hoped to hell no one I knew saw me. I'd never live it down! After awhile I almost got used to the coddling. I didn't mind too much when Brit helped me put my harness on.

Brit didn't lead so it was my show. The camera was mounted on a 45 ft crane and followed me up the climb. I could feel it a few feet off my back at one point. The Bastille Crack is a riot to climb in ordinary conditions. I must be a ham because it was even more fun while being filmed. I whizzed up it in about 5 minutes.

Then Mike was filmed running across a finish line. Click on picture for the enlarged view. After this we did one final shoot in Eldorado. Brit & Mike pulling over the "summit of the mountain". The "summit" was actually a big boulder up on the Fowler trail. I must have looked a little confused at the summit shot because the director told me: Yeah, we're faking it ..

Brit was off with a smaller crew for one final shoot at a diner. Mike went to the hotel with his wife. I drove home. Sort of a let down after such a fun day. Back to the normalcy of life. Dang!

Click here for the pics.
Sorry no shots of me. I was busy or waiting to be busy.

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