On Saturday, July 14th, and Sunday, July 15th, students at the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theatre had the unique opportunity to participate in a stunt workshop taught by none other than Taurus World Stunt Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Glenn R. Wilder.
Wilder, a California native with an impressive list of hit Hollywood films on his resume, has been the "go-to guy" for action films for over half a century. Among his better known movies are The Last Starfighter, The Presidio, Edward Scissorhands, Days of Thunder and Terminator 2. His nearly life-long friendship with mega star Burt Reynolds began when both worked on the popular tv series Gunsmoke. Together they have thrilled fans with their action adventure antics in more than fiftymovies and television shows.
Reynolds, appearing relaxed and in good health, spent the weekend sharing stories with students who attended the two day class. He told those present that the workshop was the first time he and Wilder had actually been on a stage together. Then, with his trademark glibness, he recalled his recent stint on the hit tv show Burn Notice. Wilder coordinated the stunts for the show because, according to Reynolds, "I wanted to beat him up again. I’ve been beating him up forever."
Brian Hirth, a student who learned how to take a punch (literally), was outspoken in his praise for the course. "Not only did I learn how hard it is to be a stuntman, I gained a new respect for the athletic abilities of those in the field. I’ll never think 'That’s easy' again."
Another student, Michael Varde, seemed awed by the opportunity to get up close and personal with both Wilder and Reynolds. "They were just regular guys... regular, highly talented guys! Their respect for one another was inspiring."
Students wearing protective pads were taught wrestling moves, including kicks, kneeing, throwing elbows and take downs. They learned to take and avoid punches, to fall from the stage without injuring themselves and to faux fight... one of the highlights of the class.
The Burt Reynolds Institute is known for offering unique, one-of-a-kind, affordable classes found nowhere else in Florida, including a six-week Teleprompter Proficiency course and a Scriptwriting Workshop which takes the writer from conception to completion. The stunt weekend was priced at $50.00 for the two days. "A bargain,” student Jackie McDow said with a huge smile on her face. "I would gladly have paid... well, I would have paid a lot more."
Plans are in the works to offer the workshop again. A waiting list has already begun to form with new and repeat students.
The Burt Reynolds Institute is located at 100 North U.S. Highway One, Jupiter, Florida. For information on classes, call 561 385-1584.