Firstly, I just wanted to thank Dan for taking the time to answer my questions! I know Covid-19 and the shutdown related to it has been difficult for everyone and it has certainly brightened my days to be able to work on this story. I am fascinated by the film process and especially stunts! When I was 9 years old while on a school field trip with my class we came across MacGyver film set. Our teacher let us stop for a while on the grass to watch with some other bystanders and that was the start of my love and fascination with the film industry. You and Richard Dean Anderson have worked on various productions together over the years, what had that been like? Do you keep in touch?
DS: Thx for the interest in my career + life. You watching the set of MacGyver when you were young is the same as Michael Shanks from StarGate. He + his Mom drove from Kamloops to register for UBC when he was 18 + they also stopped to watch us shooting MacGyver at Jericho beach Working with Rick ( Big Boy) has been great. During our first MOW together right after MacGyver in Toronto I broke my foot doing a stunt for him. It was actually a lucky break for 2 reasons1- I got my first Stunt Injury story. Like in Reservoir Dogs where the gangsters have to have a killing story, Stunt People need to have a Stunt Injury story. So I arrived back in Vancouver on crutches, with a story about about getting injured doing a Gag for RDA on location 2- I got an injury indemnity for getting hurt based on a Stunt Performers rate which was more money than I would have got from working because I was mostly doing background or stand-in work at the time. In fact I’ve written 10 Blogs about my career in the beginning where RDA figures prominently. They’re called “A Stunt Chumps Journey through Show Biz Hell” I believe you can find them on Dsheastunts@blogspot.ca but I’m not sure if they’re still there. (Link below) If not I think you can google me + look for them under that same title. Yes, BigBoy + I still keep in touch regularly. We’re on a Texting thread together with Michael Greenburg + his brother Ross who used to be President of HBO Sports. ( who used to comp us ringside seats in Vegas for 20 years for all the big fights.) ( that’s another Blog) We usually talk about hockey but that switched to talking about Rachel Maddow from msnbc because we’re both huge fans
VSG: You have been a part of so many iconic productions that its hard to know where to start. Is it true you are credited in every single episode of Stargate SG1?
DS: Yes I believe I’ve been credited with all Episodes of StarGate as a Stunt Coordinator.
VSG: I’m a sci-fi nut and you have worked on some of my favourite productions, ever. The zombie genre is one of my favourites. What was it like to work on films like Warm Bodies and the acclaimed The Cabin In The Woods as “Father Buckner”
DS: Warm Bodies was great because I got to work on it in Montreal with my daughter Joey who was going to McGill at the time. We both got to play zombies. One night was Halloween night so when Joey got wrapped she kept her movie zombie makeup on + went to a college party as an authentic looking Warm Bodies zombie.
Playing Pa Buckner was great! It was one of the creepiest stunts I have ever done. I was in 5 hours of FX makeup with contact lenses that made me blind, with upper + lower fangs which made it impossible for me to get a regulator into my mouth + the divers took me down 20’ into a submerged RV in a water tank. The divers had mocked up a kind of welders mask with oxygen + pressed it against my face so I could breath. But once it was taken away in the submerged RV I had to hold my breath until we rolled. Then get kicked in the head by the stunt girl ( Maja Aro) + then submerge into the darkness, orient myself to swim to the back of the RV who the divers took me back to the surface where I could finally breath. Really creepy stunt! Being blind under water with no chance of getting oxygen is no fun.
VSG: I learned that you got into stunts while training and working with Danny Virtue, and also played hockey, and rode motorcycles. Were you always daredevil?
DS: Ya I guess I was always a Daredevil. I used to jump off our garage roof at home onto my high jump pads. That’s where I got my nickname Bird. Although not many folks out here call me that. But I’m not much of a motorcycle guy. It’s been years since I’ve been on one. I used to have a 1967 450 Honda Hellcat with chrome side panels that I loved!
VSG: Being born in Ontario, playing hockey and being distinctly Canadian. How do you feel the industry North of the border has progressed since you started in it?
DS: Hollywood North has really progressed through the years. I just hope it bounces back the same way after this virus. The low Canadian dollar should help.
VSG: Do you ever get a chance to watch the productions you have worked on, and what goes through your mind?
DS: Yes I periodically get to watch old shows I’ve done. When I watch them I always flashback to what we were all doing behind the scenes like trying to make people laugh during RDA’s closeups to get them in trouble. watching StarGate makes me incredibly sad because we used to watch them when the kids were small but now they’ve both left home.
VSG: Is there anything you would still like to acomplish or people you would like to work with?
DS: Yes I would still like to direct 2 Nd Unit in big features + maybe direct some of my own stuff. I recently wrote a screenplay about a Palestinian stunt woman + an Israeli Actress for Gal Godot. I’m trying to get it to her + would love to direct it. ( but good luck. I also wish I had 10 million dollars) (VSG: I’m very intrigued by this and really hope it comes to fruition as it sounds interesting!)
VSG: Do you have a favourite movie?
DS: The Great Escape is far + away my favourite movie. Steve
McQueens stunt dbl going over that barb wire fence is still one of my favourite gags.
VSG: What has been the hardest or most challenging thing you have had to deal with so far? Injuries/setbacks/that sort of thing? How have you been coping with the Covid-19 shut down?
DS: The hardest thing has been the ups + downs of the Vancouver film industry. But mostly ups the past few years. Hopefully the ups will continue Covid? – just writing + training everyday. I ride my bike up Cypress mountain every 2nd day just to stay sane.