RAISING THE BAR: NEW BSR GRADE SCHEME INTEGRATES HEALTH & SAFETY TRAINING

2019 saw the conclusion of our latest grade scheme review and redevelopment. In addition to making overdue and essential changes to this, we collaborated with independent safety companies to develop Health & Safety seminars that educate and support our members at each stage of their career progression, and apply in practical ways every day in the stunt department. The prior scheme, operated by the JISC (dissolved 2017) no longer adequately reflected or supported every aspect of the performers’ career development.

Some elements of the new 5 tier scheme remain the same as the former JISC criteria; it was a sound basis on which to build something more relevant. Here are the similarities and differences between the two:

PROBATIONARY MEMBER – Following our changes, this now really is the entry level grade. Upon acceptance to the register – as before – learning the craft of stunt work really begins here. Probationary members must undertake the Level 1 course on acceptance to the register. A minimum 1 year is spent at this level during which it is possible to accrue enough stunt days to become eligible and apply for upgrade to the Stunt Performer grade. In the old 3 tier system the label ‘probationary’ could be found as something of a misnomer, as it was possible to remain within this category despite many years as a seasoned professional. As a safeguard, Probationary Members must work under the supervision of a BSR Full Member.

STUNT PERFORMER – At this grade the performer will hold the Level 1 certificate, but they have experience and are not probationary any longer. It’s not really a new grade level, just a different and more applicable title. If they wish to upgrade, a Level 2 BSR H & S certificate must be earned before applying to the next level. Stunt Performers must also work under the supervision of a BSR or equivalently competent Stunt Coordinator.

SENIOR STUNT PERFORMER – This grade is equivalent to the former JISC ‘Intermediate’ grade. Senior Stunt Performers may perform alone – they can self coordinate when no one else is involved in the stunt. They have experience enough to undertake their own risk assessment. However if they are part of an ensemble or their actions could affect cast, crew or the public they must be supervised. After apt experience is gained and a Level 3 H & S seminar is taken, the Senior Stunt Performer can apply to upgrade.

KEY STUNT PERFORMER – Aside from the integration of the Health and Safety elements, the addition of Key Stunt Performer is the most significant change to the grade scheme. The previous system didn’t acknowledge the very significant role of a stunt professional who assists the Stunt Coordinator. A Key Stunt Performer may run rehearsals and the floor under the supervision of a BSR or other Stunt Coordinator whom production have deemed competent. They may not coordinate other performers nor should they be considered suited as a UK match to an overseas coordinator working in the UK. They can work alone, just as a Senior Stunt Performer can when no one else is involved. Applications for the next and final level of upgrade can only be considered after they have participated in the Level 4 H & S course.

FULL MEMBER – In line with the former JISC/JIGS scheme BSR Full Members have all the experience of the other grades described above and can assume responsibility as Head of Department. Full Members may supervise and coordinate stunts. With years of expertise as a performer themselves; having played their part along the way and contributing to oftentimes exciting, clever and sometimes innovative stunts, these members will also have an in-depth knowledge of the skill-sets of their colleagues, and as such they are the key to creating safe, dynamic action sequences. Full Members who were graded before the introduction of the new scheme are still required to sit the Level 4 seminar and all Full Members must undertake a refresher every few years.

At each level the upgrade criteria requires a time and experience element, and applications must be supported by documentary evidence which is thoroughly checked.

At the time of writing this article around half the members of the register have already participated in the course applicable to their grade – which is good going because the courses have only been on offer since late summer 2019. Feedback from the members is highly positive about the learning experience and usefulness of the seminars.

Since re-forming as the British Stunt Register association, the former JISC criteria which we adhered to for the first year, was implemented more strictly than before until it was replaced. Our new joining criteria (for trainee applicants) and the new BSR 5 Tier Stunt Grading Scheme are considerably more robust, and relevant to the stunt industry now. These, along with the Health & Safety courses and other CPD support we may offer our members in future will be regularly assessed in order to remain current and fit for purpose.

The Membership Application Requirements and the Upgrade Rules & Criteria can be found on this site under ‘Documents’  (this link opens in a new tab) >Resources > Documents.


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