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SAG Awards Honor Stunt Ensembles Who Put Action in Filmmaking

The hours before the live broadcast of the Screen Actors Guild Awards on TNT are always filled with prognosticating and fashion, but there are also two coveted honors that are announced as guests make their way down the red carpet: the stunt ensemble awards for film and TV.

Since the 14th annual SAG Awards in 2008, stunt ensembles from film and TV have been recognized for their excellence, as well as their contributions to safety on set. As with all SAG Awards categories, nominees are determined by the respective 2,200-member film and TV SAG nominating committees, and the entire membership of about 100,000 votes on the winners.

“These folks are putting their lives on the line, and they’re so integral to the process and work so closely with our members. Even if they are not performing the stunts themselves, they are training our actors,” says SAG Awards executive producer Kathy Connell.

Recognizing stunt performers as an ensemble, rather than singling out a stunt coordinator, also is in step with the SAG Awards’ desire to highlight the collaboration that goes into any project. “We were the first to institute ensemble awards, and it goes to the heart of what the union is. The people who are working in television and film aren’t working alone, they’re working as a team,” Connell says.

Last year’s SAG Award winners, “Lone Survivor” and “Game of Thrones,” were announced during the live-streamed preshow, which Connell says has been necessary because of the time constraints of the broadcast.

“We want to spotlight (the category), which is why we put it on the red carpet,” she says. “Our show is two hours, and it’s very tight. We don’t have room for all the different people we’d love to acknowledge for their great work.”

Previous year’s winners include “Skyfall” in 2012 and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” in 2011. “Game of Thrones” has taken the TV trophy for three years.

The SAG Awards are one of the few industry awards shows to honor stunt performers, though the Primetime Emmys give statuettes for stunt coordination at the Creative Arts ceremony, and there is the Taurus Stunt Awards, given to stunt pros. Among SAG’s approximately 2,500 members who identify themselves as stunt performers, about two dozen are also members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Over the years, a handful of those AMPAS members have asked for a stunt category at the Oscars, but SAG remains focused on using its own show to honor its members.

“We have no position on who, or what work, other awards shows should recognize,” says SAG-AFTRA spokeswoman Pamela Greenwalt. “We are proud to say that our show, each year, recognizes outstanding achievement by stunt ensembles. We have these categories because we know better than anyone that the work done by our stunt performer members is extraordinary and awards-worthy.”

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