Q&A with Kevin Wu ‘11, SAG-AFTRA Stuntman & SOC Camera Operator
In this interview with the Duke Entertainment, Media & Arts Network (DEMAN), stuntman Kevin Wu ‘11 shares his unconventional transition from Duke to the film industry and advises students to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Major: Visual and Media Studies / Minor: Theater / Certificate: Arts of the Moving Image
What are 2-3 ways your Duke experience helped prepare you for your current career role and/or previous roles?
As a stuntman, I fall a lot. As a camera operator, I’m often carrying and running around with heavy gear. They’re physical professions, and thus the discipline I had as a Duke athlete continues as I still train to not only preserve but to better my mind and body. Finally, running Freewater Productions tested my versatility and problem solving, which are qualities that make me valuable on set today.
How did you make the transition from Duke to your career? What are a few helpful takeaways from your first years out of Duke?
Brandt Joel ’87 offered me a job in the mailroom at a premiere talent agency, William Morris Endeavor… and I turned it down to travel the world. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. For me, traveling to every continent sans Antarctica was my grad school. It made me realize how capable I was, and it also made me realize how much I needed filmmaking in my life.
How did you decide what you wanted to do after Duke? And how did you make transition(s) to different fields?
I remember the moment fondly. I was pacing in the middle of the Crowell G hallway, and I just had this epiphany. Why not make a living doing something I enjoyed? While I’ve had a ton of other experiences, they’ve all catered to my filmmaking career. After my gap year abroad, I moved to LA and scrapped and clawed my way into my profession.
What is your favorite thing about working in your profession? Most challenging?
My favorite thing about working in the industry is that no one day is the same. I’ve worked on over 400 productions, and there just isn’t anything quite like a group of people doing their jobs to create something that would have been impossible to do alone. The most challenging thing about our industry is probably the long hours. 12 hours is standard, but I’ve 20+ hour days.
What are 2-3 pieces of advice you would offer to a student interested in your field(s)?
Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Control what you can control, and like anything else, if you’re determined to do it and you bust your tail, as long as you don’t give up, you’ll find a way to do it.
Anything else to add?
I think there’s this saying of “making it” in Hollywood. I personally have never felt like I’ve “made it.” There’s always something to strive for. Strive to live your best life!