87North, the production company behind such action films as “Nobody,” the John Wick series, “Atomic Blonde” and the upcoming “Bullet Train,” is unique in that it coaches stars such as Charlize Theron, Keanu Reeves and Brad Pitt to perform their own fight scenes. Now, the company is paving the way for the next generation of stunt performers with a state-of-the-art training facility in the heart of Hollywood.
The new 87North location, a converted church on Sunset Boulevard with high beams and stained-glass windows, is a step up from the company’s 87Eleven facility near El Segundo. Former production manager turned producer Kelly McCormick says, “Inglewood is a long way, but people still made the pilgrimage down there.”
Headed by McCormick and husband David Leitch, a former stunt coordinator who now directs action films like “Bullet Train,” the Hollywood location will prove more accessible for actors and stunt performers — and is closer to Universal, with which it has a production deal.
The 9,000-square-foot multi-level facility houses production offices and a gym that serves as a training area.
“We needed a place to do pro- duction, but action design is the core of who we are, so we needed that element,” Leitch says. “This is a hybrid of our production offices and [a location where we can do] action movie design from the script phase to stunt work.”
Leitch aims to use the space to help the stunt community develop new talent. Stunt coordinator Mike Chat, founder of Xtreme Martial Arts, can often be seen on-site teaching martial arts classes. Driven by mentor-ship and apprenticeship, the classes are a way for Chat, Leitch and stunt coordinators to access fresh talent.
“David has done what no professional performer has ever done. He truly wanted to find a way to give back and support up-and-coming stunt performers,” says Chat, who has known Leitch for more than 25 years, from his stunt days.
Leitch says the classes allow the staff of 12-15 stunt trainers to discover who has the potential to grow into something more. “Hopefully, you can provide them with opportunities to learn around the other aspects of the business,” says Leitch. “That’s how you become a stunt person, by being taken under somebody’s wing and being exposed to all the disciplines.”
Greg Rementer, stunt coordinator on “Nobody,” calls Leitch a martial arts artist at heart. The added benefit of the 87North facility, he says, is having a private place to work with actors: “For years, we would train in gyms and that could be problematic when [the actors are] all sweaty and the media would try to capture them.”