The International Stunt Academy hosts students from around the world. They are fascinating and inspirational people who have chosen to walk a unique and interesting path. This week we caught up with Noora and asked her to talk about her career choice and experiences at The ISA.
Here's what she had to say about that...
Hello, who are you and where do you come from?
Hi! My name is Noora Mäkelä and I’m from Finland.
Why did you come to The ISA to study Stunt Performance and Action Acting?
I had already completed a Masters in Economics and had a good career ahead of me, then I met a former ISA student who told me about her experiences at the academy and in the stunt industry. It was fascinating, amazing and very inspirational stuff. This was when I realised I wasn't fully satisfied with the career path I was on. I wanted something more physical, active, interesting and diverse. I realised that doing stunts is exactly what I wanted for my future and what could be a better start than taking a Diploma in Action Acting in Norway. Shortly after this I started to train and prepare for my audition with The ISA.
What was the Audition process like? Was that hard?
Actually this was easier than I thought. It was physically challenging but because the course is there to take people from foundations to becoming a work-ready expert it's not like a normal acting audition. The whole experience was actually a lot of fun! The physical assessment was challenging in a few ways, although now I've trained here I would say its very easy. The Acting assessment involved some cold reads of scripts. The thing I guess none of us had appreciated is the Audition is an assessment, not an exam. This isn't a pass / fail situation. The team at The ISA were assessing us to see if we could listen, take direction and also whether we were brave enough to just try! It was ok if there were some things we couldn't do as well as others, just as long as we had a go.
Looking back to when you first joined us, what did you hope to get from your course?
First and foremost I hoped to get connections and experiences in the industry. That was a big reason for choosing The ISA over other places I could have studied. But of course learning the actual stunt techniques is important as well! In fact, dedicating a whole year to intensively studying and training is an amazing step and I now think it's essential in order to be able to develop yourself as much as possible, as fast as possible. This course has probably saved me years of slow progress and I'm already meeting famous people and great contacts.
You're half way through your course now. How's it going?
It’s going really well. The time has flown but at the same time I feel like I've always been here. It’s natural to struggle every now and then but I my overall performance is consistently getting better when the course goes on. I believe that a contributing factor to the performance is also that at the ISA we support each other in work, training and life. This makes it easy to ask for help and advice when needed and it decreases pressure since we don't feel ashamed of not knowing how to do something
What have you learned so far?
Lots and lots! I think one of the more important things I have learned is that in the stunt industry you don’t have to be the best in everything all the time. The industry respects specialisms and experience. You have to be professional and good at what you do, but there’s not that many people that are fighting for the same jobs as you. In many occasions it’s about your looks and size, and if you’re a perfect fit for the role, you’re still going to get the job even if you cannot do a double backflip.
What has this experience taught you about yourself, so far?
I have learned that my physical and mental capabilities are much greater than I thought. Also that they can be grown. During induction week we had classes on physical and mental conditioning. We were told that the real challenge ahead of us would be mental, not physical. It was true. This isn't hard, but it is challenging, in a really good way. I've grown a lot as a person. The key is to believe in yourself and avoid any prejudice that you might have. This year has made me mentally tougher and more disciplined and that has really opened up my physical skills and capabilities.
What would you say to anyone considering joining The ISA?
I would strongly encourage you to apply. You don’t have to be good at everything, we’re here to learn and the team here will assess you individually and work with you to get you where you want to be. It’s going to be an unforgettable year filled with many challenges and experiences. The education adapts and develops each year, reacting to what students want and also how the industry is evolving. The facilities at The ISA are always being improved too, so I believe that the course is going to be beyond awesome in the future. Also, don't underestimate the benefits of living and training together with others. It's definitely way easier than trying to do this on your own, or as a part-time thing.
What do you plan to do after you graduate?
My plan after graduation is to head over to the UK and train further in horse stunts. Also to complete my horse tests for the British Stunt Register.
You're studying a few different disciplines. What's your favourite and why?
My favourite discipline is definitely horses, and falls from moving objects such as horses. Did I say horses enough yet? :) I also like high falls and screen fighting.
What's been your favourite moment so far?
Learning side saddle riding on a magnificent friesian horse, out in the stunning Norwegian countryside. That was an amazing experience.
You can follow Noora and see her journey on Instagram @noorastunts
This blog os co-authored by The ISA Team