Melissa’s goal as Stunt Coordinator and 2nd Unit Director is to strategize the shooting of action sequences, to design and choreograph the action beats, and to build the drama within the action—in short, to support the tone of the film by building character-driven action that moves the story forward.
The key to the success of an action sequence rests with the second unit director and stunt coordinator understanding the director’s vision and helping to execute that vision with exciting moving images that drive the story and resonate with the audience.
Melissa Stubbs brings a fresh approach to the role of second unit director based on an approach which comes from more than 20 years of experience on a wide variety of films from some of the most successful features of all time to small scale documentaries, commercials, and television.
Melissa’s career in films began in Vancouver, Canada the age of 17 as a stunt performer. Her work has taken her all over the world, in all manner of climates and working conditions, from Alaska to New Zealand. This wide-ranging experience of many cultures, locations, and genres with more than 200 feature films and television series has taught her to visualize on a grand scale. Melissa has designed and choreographed large stunts, battles with a large cast, horse charges, motorcycle and car chases, fire fights, hand to hand combat, and even intimate dialogue scenes with actors in the studio.
A rising action director, Melissa has learned from the best and followed in their footsteps. She has learned her trade by working closely with the legends in the business, including directors such as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Brian De Palma, Ed Zwick, Lee Tamahori, Bryan Singer, James Cameron, and top second unit directors such as Vic and Andy Armstrong, Simon Crane, Dan Bradley, Conrad Palmisano, Glen Randal, Jr., Alexander Witt, Brian Smrz, and Mickey Moore. Following in their footsteps, Melissa’s goal is to bring magical dynamic images to the screen that both captivate and thrill the audience.
Melissa has also worked closely with actors in stressful circumstances, gaining their confidence and allowing them to relax in their character while achieving success with comfort and ease. They include Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, Antonio Banderas, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Jessica Alba, Ryan Phillippe, Pierce Brosnan, Diane Lane, Jet Li, Claire Danes, Jennifer Aniston, and Alicia Silverstone.
Melissa believes passionately that the second unit director must complement and enhance the work and vision of the main unit director. She studies the main unit director’s style, composition, pacing, and camera movement to ensure that scenes and sequences shot by the second unit blend seamlessly and cut together in harmony with those of the main unit. She achieves this by placing the highest priority on close communication and co-operation with the director, producer, production manager, and the main unit’s key personnel, including the production designer, director of photography, and editor.
She helps to create a positive atmosphere on-set with her boundless energy and infectious enthusiasm, encouraging and motivating the crew with good humor and determination.
Melissa’s attention to detail and safety, along with her strong work ethic bring order and efficiency to complex set-ups and stunt sequences. Her instincts and eye for composition, movement, and pacing make the action stunning to look at, exciting to watch, and affordable to shoot.
“If you can imagine it, it can be done. Sometimes simplicity is the path that should be taken, but only after all avenues and options have been explored.”