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‘Daredevil,’ ‘Black Sails’ Take Movie-Style Stunts to TV

TV shows increasingly serve up bigscreen-style action, but that doesn’t mean they have cushy movie schedules to pull it off, as this year’s Emmy contenders in the stunt category can attest.

On Netflix series “Marvel’s Daredevil” (pictured), stunt coordinator Phil Silvera had only two days of rehearsal to prepare for a sequence in which the title character (played by star Charlie Cox and stunt double Chris Brewster) takes on a hallway full of bad guys. Adding to the challenge: it had to be captured in a single continuous take.

“We had guns going off, doors being smashed and props being thrown, along with multiple fights,” Silvera says. “For a sequence like this on film, most people would get two to three weeks of rehearsal.”

On Starz pirate drama “Black Sails,” stunt coordinator Franz Spilhaus was told two weeks prior to filming the season two finale that they were going to capture a large scale amphibious assault in a single shot. He had only four days to rehearse the sequence, which took another four days to shoot. Between each of the six takes it took to get it right, the crew had to reset the 52 mortars and repair what the faux cannon hits had destroyed.

“We had 60 stunt performers in the sequence, and everything had to be timed out perfectly. Camera had to be exactly in the right place every time,” Spilhaus says.

But TV stuntwork also has its advantages. Because stunt coordinator Rick Le Fevour and the rest of the cast and crew on NBC’s “Chicago Fire” have been working with fire for three seasons, they can pull off complicated scenes with a minimum fakery— as they did on a recent episode where stuntman Kenny Richards got blown by a fireball through a glass window down to an airbag 35 feet below.

“I’d say it’s about 99% real fire on the show,” says Le Fevour. “There are only a few occasions we’ve added fire through visual effects.”

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