Born in Almeria, home to the Spaghetti Westerns, it was inevitable that Boris Martínez would eventually find his niche in the film industry. But it was a long and arduous journey via South Africa and the UK until he finally settled in Mallorca. Here, he is not only a well-established and respected stunt performer and coordinator, he is also running courses with the aim of setting up a Mallorca-based team of stunt performers.

Boris, who speaks perfect fluent English, began life as a dancer in Dani Pannullo’s company, where he says he got “a taste for show business” and as a performer in the early days of the Warner Park in Madrid, where he went through several castings that brought together more than 2,000 people.
This experience, which lasted three years, was “my real school” because they trained him in practically everything: jet skiing, falls, stage fighting, etc.

After training with stunt coordinator Miguel Pedregosa, a legend of Spanish cinema, Boris landed a series of important jobs, such as on set of The Bourne Ultimatum with Matt Damon. But the 2008 crisis affected him and he left for South Africa when he heard that “there was a lot to do”.

Fight with Denzel Washington

“At the end of 2007/2008 when the crisis hit, all the worked dried up in Spain, but a friend of mine was working in the film industry in Cape Town and said they were still working and a lot of filming was going on. So, with what little cash I had, I flew out there and began working on a BBC series with Michael Fassbender and Dominic West. It was a period piece set in the era of Cromwell, so there were lots of sword fights, horse riding and the like.

“But my work permit took a very long time to come through, so I was hired as the horse wrangler for the production.

“Eventually my papers came and I was really able to get to work and there were so many B movies being made, there was plenty of work. It enabled me to get my foot in the door and slowly start getting noticed and making a name for myself. It was excellent experience and before I knew it I was working with the likes of Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds in Safe House. I got to have a fight with Denzel and kill him and through having come across and got to know the stunt coordinator for the Harry Potter films, Greg Powell, I began getting more work in the UK,” Boris said.

And that is when his career really took off.

Boris has worked on a number of Bond films with Daniel Craig, most notably Skyfall and No Time to Die; Spanish Oscar-winner Javier Bardem, “we had to torture him”; Tom Cruise in a number of Mission Impossible films; Sean Penn, Pierce Brosnan, Matt Damon, Harrison Ford in the last instalment of Indian Jones which was filmed on location in Morocco; Natalie Portman and Tom Hanks, to name just a few.

“I was on Cloud Atlas with Tom Hanks, which was shot in Mallorca before I had moved to the island,” he added.

And while all this was going on, his parents had relocated to Mallorca.

“In 2010 I came out to visit them and was very impressed with the island, it was amazing. So, my partner and I kept coming back for holidays and began thinking about relocating to the island. After all, Palma is just a few hours flight from most central European cities, especially London, and looking ahead we thought it was a great island and location to bring the family up on, so we moved to Mallorca in 2014.”

Demand for stunt performers

And while Boris has watched Mallorca’s film and audio-visual industry blossom, he is still having to fly to work.

“Be it in the UK, the Canary Islands, on the mainland or anywhere else in the world. there still is not that constant demand for stunt performers here in the Balearics and, to be honest, I’m starting to get a little tired of having to always catch planes. That said, the great thing here is that being a resident, I get my travel discount and that’s always very attractive to producers looking to keep their budgets tight,” he admitted.

Nicole Kidman

What got Boris thinking was around this time last year when hired as stunt coordinator on the Paramount+ series Lioness, a large part of which was shot on the island, starring Nicole Kidman, Morgan Freeman and the most bankable actor in Hollywood at the time, Zoe Saldaña.

“That was perfect. I was able to go to work and then go home to the wife and family - pretty much for the first time.

“However, on Lioness, I had to bring in 17 people from outside. Flight tickets, hotel, expenses all had to be covered, so the production became very expensive,” he said.

“While we’ve got a rapidly growing pool of talent on Mallorca in almost most areas of film making, we don’t have a local stunt team and that is what I am working on putting together. I have set up BM Stunts but I don’t want to set up a school because that immediately pushes up the overheads and the prices of the courses, plus I’m looking for Mallorca-based potential stunt performers or people who are seriously considering moving to the island and want to work in the industry. I don’t care what nationality they are, but I want them to be based here in Mallorca and that will give the island’s film industry and extra boost,” he said.

Last week, a Course for Action Specialists was held at a hotel in Peguera, given by the renowned stuntmen and specialist coordinators, Boris and Ignacio Herráez, with the aim of starting to build that ‘pool of specialists’ for audio-visual productions on the island.

Related news

“What I intend with this course is to create a local team of specialists to work with, especially in the future when the planned film studios in Marratxi are built. We have no specialists on the island, and while I have a number of projects coming up off the island, I will be holding another three-day intensive course.

“But I’m very selective. At the end of the day it’s my team and I will be prepared to take them overseas with me to work on productions, so I aim to have the very best.

“For example, on the latest course, I had a member of the National Police and a former member of the military. So apart from the physical sides of things, they knew all about handling weapons, climbing and abseiling, for example. Plus, one had gone on to be a yacht skipper, so he knew about boats, while another was a horse rider, who also has experience in urban combat, crowd control etc. There were some key important skills already there to work with.

“In the UK, for example, to get onto the stunt register you need to have six skills from scuba diving to horse riding, trampolining, high diving and climbing, but I’m just looking for three key skills to work with and the candidates can come from a variety of backgrounds. They can be former martial arts competitors, professional car or bike racers, dancers like myself because they have excellent body control and coordination, good physical and mental conditioning, good presence. They may have a background in professional gymnastics or have worked in a circus as acrobats and therefore know how to perform in front of people. Some of these people may have come to the end of their careers which they love at an early age and end up in a job they don’t like or enjoy and no longer need their special skills. Well, I’m offering the chance to use those skills and have an exciting and rewarding job.

“But it’s tough and far from easy because while you may have the skills, can you then act? Because at the end of the day, we have to find our mark in front of a camera and act.

“So over three days, the participants in this course learn stage combat, punching and being punched in a safe way; sword handling; reactions to gunshots; air control or falls.

“It is the ‘ABC’ of our profession: carry a weapon, shoot and make it look good, or get shot and die with art. However, in this job you get to the letter ‘Z’. There are many things to learn, and training is continuous,” stressed Boris.

Physical and mental battle

“One also has to bear in mind there is a mental battle with some of the stunts. It’s not normal to throw yourself off the top of a building or leap off the edge of a cliff, for example. And despite all the care and attention we take, especially people like myself as stunt coordinator, we all make mistakes and accidents do happen. But you cry about that after the scene.

“If I’m facing Denzel Washington and I know I’ve got to kill him, for example, I forget all that. I’m doing my job and as far as I’m concerned it’s got to be done as best as possible otherwise the director’s not happy. No one is happy, so you have to get in to the zone, the correct mindset and concentrate,” he explained.

“Being a stunt performer requires continual training, practice and physical training. We need to be at our physical and mental peaks all the time.

“It’s not all show business glamour, far from it, it’s hard work and a lot of tough days.

“Plus, we baby-sit the actors because some of them are involved in action scenes set up by the stunt coordinator. So they have to be in shape and it’s us who make sure they are physically well cared for, that they warm up, stay sharp and take care of themselves while on set.

“The perfect example is Tom Cruise. Yes he does do his own stunts. We set them up for him, take him through them and then he will do it. But accidents, such as when he broke his ankle performing a stunt on the set of Mission: Impossible film Fallout, do happen. We were all sent home for three months while he recovered and could return to filming.

“But one of the facts he does his own stunts is what makes him such a big box office attraction,” Boris added.

“And of course, to set these stunts up, stunt coordinators like myself need riggers to build the stunt platforms etc. so that is where people with experience from the nautical sector can be extremely helpful on the team,” he said.

However, what he enjoys most is “teaching an actor and then having them nail it”, something he was able to put into practice in no less a role than in No Time to Die, the last film with Daniel Craig as James Bond, in which Martínez was “co-action coordinator”. He was very proud of this, because “who would have thought there would be a Spaniard in a Bond film?”

And from this experience, above all, he revealed that in rehearsals for a fight scene he had to teach Craig. “At the beginning I saw him very confident and then, when I saw how he acted, he had a style, a class. It’s mind-blowing. You see 007 and then you suddenly realise you’ve helped and designed something that James Bond is doing. And that’s a beautiful thing,” Boris added.

So, if you think you’ve got what it takes, contact Boris via Instagram @BMStunts