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article imageMeet Andrew Comrie-Picard: Hollywood stunt driver Special

By Markos Papadatos     Apr 12, 2018 in Entertainment
Hollywood stunt driver Andrew Comrie-Picard chatted with Digital Journal, where he shared insights on how to have fun with our tax refund this year. Comrie-Picard also discussed the digital transformation of the entertainment business.
Andrew Comrie-Picard gave us some tips on how to have fun with our tax refund this year. "If you get a big tax refund, try out Wide Open Baja, where you can use the same cars that we use on the Baja1000 race and go over sections of the same course, using the same BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A ® KO2 tires that we have used to win the race ourselves. You won't ever forget the experience," he said.
The stunt driver continued, "The most important upgrade you can make to any car is to improve the tires - no other single component has such a big impact on performance. And whether you drive a Mustang, a Miata, or a minivan there's a BFGoodrich tire that can give you better performance. I especially like the BFGoodrich Advantage T/A ® Sport, which is focused on improving everyday cars. I recently did a stunt in a minivan on those tires and you shouldn't be able to do those things with a Grand Caravan. Dollar-for-dollar, tires are the best performance upgrade there is, and they improve braking, handling, and acceleration. What else can do that?"
He shared that being a Hollywood stunt driver can be the best job in the world, and simultaneously, it is challenging. "You spend 90 percent of your time working on getting the work, nine percent of the time on set somewhere, and one percent of the time (maybe less) actually driving. In a way, the driving is the easy part, and it's the most relaxing for me because it's just an extension of my 20 years of racing. But when a legit Hollywood A-list star gives you a high-five for the stunt you just drove, or when you see your moves on the big screen, it's pretty special. I've been lucky to work on some amazing movies and TV series over the last few years, and I always feel lucky to work with the people I do."
For Comrie-Picard, The X Games are a "crazy rush." "I mean, bring all the best extreme athletes in the world into a single place and challenge them to do their best with all their peers and millions of people watching. They've done a great job at not corrupting the sports they include, they just put cameras onto the challenges and stories already happening. I competed five times, including the first time cars were included, in 2006, and we started doing the huge ramp-to-ramp jumps that none of us had ever done before. It was a learning process - I flipped end-over-end once, but then I won a medal too. It remains one of the highlights of my career," he said.
On his plans for the future, he said, "I've gotten into stunt coordinating on a new Netflix show, which is an amazing responsibility overseeing the action and a next step in the stunt career. Being a tire geek (like all racers are) I also have created a mobile tire service in Los Angeles called ZipTire that supplies and installs tires wherever is convenient for the customer - at home, work, or wherever. And of course, still being that tire geek, I recommend BFGoodrich tires. And I have one massive project that I've been working on for a long time: to be the first to drive from one of the Earth's poles to the other. Watch this space."
Ever since he was a kid, Comrie-Picard admitted that he has been a "challenge junkie." "Ask my long-suffering parents. I was an only child growing up on a farm, so I would set tests for myself: how far could I jump the dirt-bike? Can I get my dad's snowmobile completely sideways on the icy road in front of the house (that led to a rollover and docking about a year's allowance for repairs) and so on. So that led naturally to racing and stunts. But now I have a wife and two daughters, four and two years old. That puts a focus on the stunt career and my tire business. For years I lived for myself, now I live for them. I'm fortunate that my misspent youth could be turned into a career."
Digital transformation of entertainment industry
On the impact of technology on the entertainment industry, Comrie-Picard said, "Technology has made a huge difference in the entertainment industry, especially in the microelectronics and digital media age. My favorite car racing film is Grand Prix (1966) by John Frankenheimer. Amazing footage, but they had to strap a cameraman wearing racing gear to another race car operating a huge film camera to get the shots. Now we have 'arm cars' - super high-performance SUVs with gyro-stabilized boom arms on them - that can be moved around another car at speed to get insane shots. We used them on every episode of Top Gear USA and most films I do. Add to that the film-quality mini Alexa and DSLR cameras, the 4k GoPros, and the drones, and you can see angles that even a racer never gets to see. And we often shoot pre-visualization rehearsals on our smartphones for the director to approve. Pretty amazing."
On his use of technology in his daily routine as a Hollywood stunt driver, Comrie-Picard noted that stunt driving has certainly been affected by technology in recent years. "In the car itself, it's harder every year to really bend a car to your command. The electronic stability controls are harder to defeat, and we spend quite a bit of time beforehand prepping the cars to behave like they shouldn't. It's not so bad on a movie, where you're typically using slightly older cars and they have weeks to prepare them."
He continued, "I remember my first days on Top Gear USA when the director said: 'OK, just drift that Mercedes SLR between the hangers' and 'take the Lamborghini Aventador and just drift it through the bullpen and past the bullfighter.' These cars have no clutch, no normal handbrake, and a lot of electronics. In some ways my biggest challenges are the engineers. On the other hand, the engineering means tires are much better than they used to be even ten years ago, and so traction is more reliable and progressive at the limit, which makes my job easier. I always specify BFGoodrich tires. Outside the car and in big-budget films, CGI has had a huge effect on what happens on a shoot. I recently did a superhero film where we had to slide around something that wasn't even there yet. Pretty amazing."
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