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"Fast Bikes", April 1, 2013

TEN MINUTES WITH...DICKEY BEER

Not only is Dickey in possession of a fabulous name, but he also played a Stormtrooper in Return of the Jedi. He’s now a stunt coordinator and has finished work on a film called Welcome to the Punch.

WORDS: SIMON ‘ROOTSY’ ROOTS

Dickey Beer on set, ready to send a stunt rider out to crash

PIC: MOMENTUM PICTURES

I’m a gun for hire, I suppose.

One of my friends, another stunt coordinator, was going to do the movie, but another job offer came his way and he recommended me.

The director had a very detailed motorbike chase in it that he wanted.

All the action and stunts were written in great detail in the script from day one, so in this case it wasn’t a case of coming up with anything new; the director knew what he wanted so there wasn’t much for me to come up with.

The chase scene was done in Canary Wharf.

This is where the director lives so he knows it inside out. He had the location in mind and that’s how he was able to write the whole scene. Even so, it was still a challenge to get the job done at some points. But it was all do-able, we didn’t have to make too many changes to locations in order to make a stunt work in the way we wanted it to.

The director didn’t want anything to be done that wouldn’t look real.

I like that. Everything had to happen the way it would in real life – no movie tricks were involved and everything that we filmed will be how it looks on screen. That to me was why it was a great job, most directors want the over the top stuff, but he didn’t.

I chose the stunt riders.

But I also had an assistant film coordinator and he knows a lot of the people over there in England. I live in LA, so I’ve not worked in England for eight years and I simply don’t know the new people on the scene. I knew there were some guys over there who were new and were really good on the bike stuff. We took them to a place where they showed me what they were capable of and I liked what I saw. It helped that they were the right size too, as we needed a good double for the actors. You can be proud of your British stunt riders!

We took about five days to shoot the whole opening sequence.

It’s probably going to make a three or four minute sequence. Then there was all the work behind the scenes, like us being the first to use Canary Wharf for filming – this was because the director lives there and I guess he pulled a few strings. He always wanted to do the chase there, and after writing the script for two or three years he really wanted to pull it off. There weren’t many restrictions apart from not being allowed to film in office hours, so we had to do it all at night – but this was all good for the story.

We were lucky to get locations.

There we could do some very interesting things. Like when they go down some steps and into these tunnels. These were beautiful and perfect for the chase.

In reality, there’s not so much you can do with bikes.

A bike jumps, crashes, goes down stairs, and that’s it, really. There isn’t much you can do which is as spectacular as you can do with cars, trucks and boats. That’s probably the reason why it’s not used so much. But they are difficult to film.

When I was young I used to race motocross.

But I’ve never done anything on the road. Bikes are dangerous. Then I did some car racing because when I was young I found out quite quickly that when you fall off it hurts. If you race cars at least you’ve got some protection.

I will ride a bike, but only when I get paid for it!

I always want to be safe and don’t want to get hurt. So far I’ve succeeded, and one of the reasons is that I don’t ride bikes. It’s not me, it’s other people. Falling off a bike is no problem. It’s when you start hitting stuff that you can hurt yourself.

You try to eliminate the chances of people getting hurt.

If you do what we’re doing, write a bike chase sequence, get the right location, get the right bikes and the right people then there shouldn’t be any accidents or problems. Preparation is key. Of all the bike stuff I’ve done it all looked great, some stuff was more difficult than others, so I don’t know why we don’t see more bike chases.

I worked on Tomorrow Never Dies, with the big BMW chopper.

That was a challenge because we wanted to use it because it was good looking – but it was 265 kilos so you couldn’t do crazy stuff with it. We were planning on making a mock-up, but people would always see the scramble bike underneath.

We ended up using Jean-Pierre Goy, a French guy.

He is incredible. We found a video of him doing demo stuff for BMW, and we took him to an airfield. We showed him the bike and said to him ‘what do you think you can do with this?’ He jumped on it, and the next thing we know we heard a bike coming at us, and he was wheelieing this 265 kilo bike with the front wheel way up in the air, and when he came closer he stood up on one foot and put one foot on the back of the saddle, waving his hand about. I thought, we’ve got the right guy!

Welcome to the Punch is released in cinemas on 15th March.

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