Published on August 25th, 2017 | by Biz Books
The Biz Interview: Lisa Chandler
Lisa Chandler brings the dual skills of acting and stunt work to film and television projects in Vancouver.
With popular series TV projects like Supergirl, The 100, Supernatural, Bates Motel and the 2018 Netflix series Altered Carbon among her career highlights, we talked with Lisa Chandler to find out more about the stunt world and her current evolution from stunt performer to actor.
Can you start by telling us a little bit about you and how your career in stunt work and acting got started?
I first started off acting here and there in plays when I was a kid and in high school not really knowing at the time what ‘stunts’ were. It wasn’t until I was in college playing hockey that a local film was being shot and they needed a stunt double (goaltender). Years later when I moved from Toronto to Vancouver and I was working every job I could to get into film, I was standing-in on a feature for the lead actress and noticed the stunt department and started asking them questions. That year, I got asked to perform a small stunt for the same actress and was ecstatic! I whipped up a resume constructed of every athletic certificate, ability and class I have ever taken and dove headfirst into the field. I knew in a moment that that was what I truly wanted to do and I haven’t looked back since.
What would be your advice for anyone who wants to pursue a stunt career?
Do your research! Look up other stunt women/men professionals and see what their background is and see if you can see yourself in their shoes. It may look ‘badass’ and ‘awesome’ and ‘glamorous’ but behind every stage there’s a curtain full of hard rehearsals and a ton of training. Use the internet as well! There are a ton of sites now that offer loads of information for people (young and older) who are interested to head in that direction.
What’s the biggest misconception about stunt work?
That we get to keep the clothes after a stunt. Seriously, people ask me that.
What are the keys to an effective movie or television stunt sequence?
Taking your time working out the kinks with your scene partner beforehand – or if solo, rehearsing it over and over and over again. When performing the stunt slowly at first and building up speed, you and your partner are gaining confidence in your moves as well as working with the cameramen in knowing your angles and speed factor. ‘Taking my time’ is a huge tool for me that has helped me out in so many ways!
What is the most impressive stunt that you’ve seen and what’s the most impressive one that you’ve participated in?
There are so many impressive ones out there. A good friend of mine, Janene Carleton, is a badass stunt veteran. She performed a jump onto a moving truck at a high speed rate that was insanely impressive! There are so many stunt women and men out there that are so talented in physically setting the bar higher and higher with time that just blows my mind. For example, American Ninja Warrior Jessie Graff (whom I had the pleasure working with on Supergirl) is just crushing it in the obstacle course scene! Some stunts that I’ve performed may not seem ‘crazy’ to the eye, but sometimes we perform stunts that are calculated to a tee that can either go smoothly, or have the stunt fail. For example, I had to perform a freefall stunt dropping over 15 feet into a very tight space landing on my back on a pad with wood boards measured beside me(think dropping high up into a tight coffin). If I moved my arms out of my range an inch while dropping I could have broken both elbows or smashed both forearms. It went smoothly thank God, but the specifics the stunt coordinators and stunt riggers help design are very important and impressive to say the least when having it done right and safe.
“I want to be known as ‘Lisa Chandler’, the ‘action woman’ who acts and performs her own stunts.”
You’ve done more acting recently to go along with stunt work. What has this transition been like and do you want to be known primarily as an actor moving forward?
I’m still in the ‘transition stage’ and it’s interesting. There are certain casting directors out there that know me strictly from my stunt work and being able to perform stunt actor roles and there are others out there that I’m sure don’t even know I do stunts as they have only seen me for my acting abilities. It’s no secret that I do both and l love both sides, but it’s finding the balance out there in terms of casting directors, my relationships with them and reading roles that are right for my ‘brand’. I want to be known as ‘Lisa Chandler’, the ‘action woman’ who acts and performs her own stunts. That’s mainly my goal at this moment and focusing on me and my ‘brand’.
Are there any books that have helped you as an actor?
Reading full feature scripts (even if I’m not acting in them) to understand more about story structure and characters has really helped me as an actor. I was doing a challenge reading two plays a month which was great on my time off. Loved it! AMAW founder Anthony Meindl has a book called, Book The F**King Job and Ingrid Torrance has a great book called ACT which is fantastic for anyone new into the business or ‘kind of in’ and you want to explore more of the business.
One of your upcoming acting projects is Altered Carbon on Netflix. What can you share about this project?
Where do I begin with this show… well, it’s insane for starters! I’ve never been on such a high production value show like this before. My character is pretty unique and it was so interesting to film it. As it’s still in post production for Netflix, I have to be hush hush but if you have read the book (read it by the way, it’ll blow your mind!) you’ll know the world that Richard Morgan has created. Then add a ton of money in developing the show as well as having multiple creative geniuses in the making of it and you get a mind-blowing show! Whenever I would go to set, I would walk through the studios and see the sets, costumes and props and was thinking ‘soak this in girl cause this is gonna be huge and you’re in the making of it!’.
Where can people find out more about you online?
Thanks to Lisa Chandler for speaking with us!
Watch for more news on Altered Carbon from Netflix in the months ahead.