Zero to Hero.
Not only is that what Film Production alumnus Jason Gosbee titled his documentary about stunt performers during his time at Toronto Film School – but, fittingly enough, it also characterizes his own meteoric rise in the world of stunting after graduation.
Since finishing his studies at TFS back in 2006, the former hockey-player-turned-law-student-turned-aspiring-filmmaker-and-actor has amassed a stunting resume that includes more than 100 credits. From Suicide Squad, Man of Steel and Shazam!, to The Boys, American Gods, and The Umbrella Academy, Gosbee has performed in some of the biggest blockbuster films and TV series ever to film here in the Greater Toronto Area.
And it all started 17 years ago after a chance encounter in the lunchroom at TFS.
Intro to Stunting
“I’d already decided I wanted to direct a documentary on stunts, which is something I knew nothing about at the time,” Gosbee laughingly recalled.
“But then one day I was in the cafeteria talking about it with some of the other students in my class, when somebody in the acting program overheard me and said, ‘Hey, I train with a bunch of stunt guys at my gym. You should come with me tomorrow.’”
It was an offer Gosbee said he couldn’t refuse – a decision that ended up paying huge dividends.
Not only was he able to nail down on-camera interviews with the stunt performers he met that day – all of whom were training to appear in Zack Snyder’s 2007 epic 300 at the time – for his short doc Zero to Hero: A Brief Workup on Stunts and Stunt Performers in Canada, but he was also so inspired by their enthusiasm for their jobs that he decided to change the course of his own career.
“I kind of just fell in love with what they were doing and that’s what planted the stunting seed for me,” he said, noting that his background in hockey, gymnastics and martial arts made the transition from aspiring filmmaker to stunt performer a bit more seamless for him.
“Hockey made it so that I was never afraid of contact, but it’s also a sport that requires a high degree of skill, in terms of stick handling and hand-eye coordination….so, I somehow saw these two worlds coming together and working out really well – and they did.”
While many of Gosbee’s credits are on action films and television series, recently he’s begun carving out a new niche for himself in comedy-based stunting – a new avenue he’s deriving a lot of fulfilment from.
“I’m going to give away a big secret here: Yes, the cool part of stunts are the big gags that you do on the big movies that people remember. But with those big productions like Suicide Squad, Titans, The Boys, RoboCop, and Total Recall, there’s also high degree of stress involved,” he explained.
“Then I got called to do this TV show called Workin’ Moms, and it opened my eyes at how much fun everybody has doing these little comedies where they’re doing extremely well-written slapstick and high concept comedy stuff. And I suddenly realized that while the other stuff is challenging, doing stunts on comedies is fun and fulfilling in a completely different way.”
Bria Mack Gets a Life
Gosbee’s latest gig as the stunt coordinator on Bria Mack Gets a Life – an upcoming comedy series from Sasha Leigh Henry that follows a smart young Black woman reluctantly entering the workforce – is one that has only ramped up his enthusiasm for comedy stunting.
“The kind of humor they have, the sorts of gags they do, and the kind of fun we had on set – it made go to work and love my job’” he said.
“It’s the kind of situation where you go to work and you look around and say, ‘Do we get paid to do this. Really?’ It seems almost criminal…With the comedy stuff, the expectations are different. People just want to be engaged and laugh. It’s fun!”
Toronto International Film Festival
It was also Gosbee’s involvement with Bria Mack that brought him back to this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), where the show made its world premiere during the Primetime TIFF ’23 screenings.
Lauding his hometown festival for its accessibility to the public, Gosbee recalled his time attending TIFF in 2008. Fresh out of Toronto Film School at the time, he went to see the premiere of Steven Soderbergh’s Che – and was blown away to see both the director and star, Benicio Del Toro in attendance.
“There’s something really incredible about how accessible TIFF is – how you go to a screening and the filmmakers are there and you can approach them, talk to them, and ask them questions,” he said.
“I’m I love with the fact that it’s one of the most accessible festivals, where you can directly engage and interact with the people whose work you’ve spent so much time admiring, learning from, and being excited by.”
Advice to Students
Now that his career is in a place where he himself is in a position to be a source of inspiration for TFS students hoping to follow in his footsteps, Gosbee said his best piece of advice is a simple one: Work hard – and do it for the love of film and storytelling.
“I got into this business because I love movies and I find it really fulfilling to tell stories and create and experiment. And I’ve never lost sight of that, because that’s really what it’s all about,” he said.
“And it was that mindset that allowed me to continue doing what I do without focusing on whether or not I’d ‘made it yet.’ I just wanted to work hard and be around other filmmakers who would make me better at my craft.
“That’s my advice: do the thing that you love for its own sake, because you enjoy it and it’s fulfilling.”