Los Angeles-born James Bomalick’s rise to fame as an action director sounds almost straight out of a film. He started his career as a bodyguard to singers, but his fetish for motorbikes got him commercials and finally, Hollywood films. Credited for directing riveting and thrilling action sequences in films such as Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011), Live Free or Die Hard (2007), The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), Mr and Mrs Smith (2005), The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) and others, James also turned to Bollywood with the 2009 film, Blue.
In Chandigarh’s Hotel JW Marriott on Thursday, James announced the launch of Action Tek India, a school which will provide action and stunts techniques, stunts people and equipments, all under one roof and in the budget suiting the film – be it Hindi, South Indian or Punjabi. For this, James has joined hands with Sanjay Gokal, a karate expert. “Sanjay and I have been talking about it for the past three years. He told me about the emerging Punjabi film industry, which currently focuses on comedy. But since action is a part of the Punjabi flavour, we both decided to introduce a new element of comedy action.”
A part of the action world for 25 years, James acknowledges the role of technology in shaping action sequences. “Technology has developed for the better, but sometimes, action dictates technology,” he opines.
Sharing further details about the effort that goes into designing and planning a stunt, James says there is a huge responsibility that comes with his job. “Children, animals and water stunts are the most difficult to plan. I have to be authorised to carry them out. In the US, we have very strict rules about these three kinds of stunts. In fact, we are thinking about suggesting to the Indian stunt association also makes strict rules regarding these on the sets,” he says.
Coming to his experience in Bollywood, James feels Indian filmmakers don’t weave action in the script. “Action isn’t a part of the script (in Hindi films). Its hanging out somewhere between scenes and love songs. The Hindi film industry is still at loose ends when it comes to action, since there are action-isolated scripts and techniques and safety measure are missing,” says James.
In fact, James feels rather strongly about using safety measures when performing stunts. He asserts, “Safety procedures are of huge importance. In Bollywood, anyone can opt to do a stunt at the last minute. However, safety should be the primary consideration of an action director. In the US, it is well planned and executed. I have to carry licenses and certificates when going for my stunts. Whatever technique is infused or created by me has to go through me. I plan every scene putting myself in the shoes of the stunts person – be it a car being blast off or a bike falling from a cliff. I do not relish if the actor or body double gets hurt on the sets.”