Stunt Coordinator and 2nd Unit Director Chris Brewster recently spoke with us about his work on Paramount+’s new Teen Wolf: The Movie starring Tyler Posey and Tyler Hoechlin, as well as the new spinoff series Wolf Pack, which follows a teenage boy and girl whose lives are forever changed when a California wildfire awakens a terrifying supernatural creature.
Chris also stunt coordinated the critically-acclaimed film Black Adam starring Dwayne Johnon and all three seasons of Netflix and Marvel's Daredevil series while stunt doubling for Charlie Cox as the titular character. Chris is also directing his first feature film this year and is in the process of opening a world class stunt training and rehearsal facility in Georgia.
PH: Hi Chris! I'd love to learn more about your professional background. How does one get into stunt coordinating?
Chris Brewster: Hi! Well, the basic route to stunt coordinating is to begin as a stunt performer; learning and developing the skills to eventually conceptualize, design, and coordinate the action in the safest possible manner. The best coordinators are the ones who have hit the ground for years, and have learned from their own experience how to make things look much more painful or dangerous than they actually are.
PH: Can you share some of your past work experiences? How has that shaped you into the professional you are currently?
Chris Brewster: The thing that has always set me apart in the world of entertainment is my background in martial arts. All martial arts can be divided into two categories - stuff that actually works, and stuff that looks cool. I was a master of the stuff that looks cool. I won 13 world titles in extreme martial arts, which is basically a combination of traditional martial arts techniques, mixed with acrobatics, gymnastics, and even dance. Because of this, the aesthetics and beauty of choreography has always been my passion. You can make the simplest punch or the most gritty fight scene look beautiful if you choreograph and capture it the right way.
PH: Let's talk about your work on Teen Wolf: The Movie. How did you first hear about this project?
Chris Brewster: I actually go way back with Teen Wolf. I worked on the original Teen Wolf television show for years. I stunt doubled a ton of the characters, I designed a lot of the fight scenes, and stunt coordinated several episodes. I have also worked with the producers, like Jeff Davis, on many other projects, so when this movie came up, it was something I absolutely had to do!
PH: Naturally, stunt coordination involves lots of action. How do you bring adrenaline into storytelling through stunt choreography? Can you give us a bit of insight into your creative approach?
Chris Brewster: You actually nailed the main area of my approach. Action NEEDS to tell a story. A punch is just as important as a line of dialogue. I like to read the script and get a really good understanding of the characters and the plot, before I choreograph a single move. Once the choreography is perfectly in line with the story, it is very easy to convey the adrenaline and emotion of each beat throughout the action. Beyond that, my approach changes on every show; based on the details of the project (budget, shooting schedule, prep time, actor abilities, etc).
PH: What was it like reuniting with the Teen Wolf cast more than 10 years after the original series, to recreate and build upon their characters through stunts and action design?
Chris Brewster: It was absolutely amazing reuniting with the cast after such a long time. The cast and crew on Teen Wolf have always been a family. I have become really good friends with some of them, and it felt like the perfect reunion. As far as stunt coordinating, it made my job much easier, because safety is very reliant on trust. Because we have spent lots of time together, we had an immediate trust for each other, which helped us pull off some huge challenges.
PH: Can you talk about the more than 20 action sequences you designed that can be plugged into any fight scene with a standard set of guidelines to keep actors and performers safe?
Chris Brewster: In a perfect world, we would have months of rehearsals and prep for any action film, but sometimes that’s not possible. There are always scheduling, availability, and budget challenges, so we design our game plan based on the details. On this particular project, we had VERY little prep time, so we needed a creative way to make the action epic, and keep everyone safe. My team and I choreographed over 20 mini action pieces, and every person on my team memorized them. We were able to either loop these fights in the background (repeat the movements over and over to give the appearance of a long battle, or tailor them to each character. We were able to do this, and create entire action sequences in seconds. Then the team would divide and conquer, teaching every actor their pieces of the action.
PH: What challenges did you face coordinating, designing, and rehearing stunts with actors all in the same day due to such a tight filming schedule?
Chris Brewster: Normally, the biggest challenge of a tight filming schedule is the demand it puts on the actors. Filming action is brutal, you are kicking and punching and performing a very detailed dance for up to 14 hours. Many actors wouldn’t be able to pull it off, but we are incredibly blessed with the cast of Teen Wolf. The actors were so incredibly game to jump in, learn on the fly, and rise to the challenge. It was incredible watching how quickly they each took the choreography, and added the personality of their characters.
PH: When selecting what projects you say yes to, what do you look for? Is there a criteria you follow?
Chris Brewster: I always pursue the jobs that I can truly collaborate on. Jeff Davis is one of the most creative showrunners/writers/directors (he wears a lot of hats) on the planet. As well, he is also one of the most supportive and welcoming. When you work with Jeff, you truly feel like you are a part of the creative process. He also is an expert at designing character based action, instead of “action for the sake of action”.
PH: Are there any other upcoming projects you want to share?
Chris Brewster: I am incredibly excited for the release of Chris McKay’s RENFIELD. I was able to be the stunt coordinator and second unit director of the film. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and I am so proud of the things we did. Chris is an absolute genius, and one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. The cast and crew were phenomenal. I seriously can’t say enough good things about this one.
As well, this year, I’m directing my first feature film, RELENTLESS. Plus, there are a few projects in development that would give me the opportunity to work with my absolutely favorite directors/showrunners and producers.
There are no comments on this blog post.