As CGI and effects technologies become more and more advanced, filmmakers are constantly working to keep up with the ever-growing hunger audiences have for high octane, adrenaline-packed action films.
When done right a great action film can often spawn sequels, prequels and spin-offs, and the merchandising opportunities of a hit can be limitless.
An epic battle or chase scene can sell millions of tickets, but explosions and flashy CGI are expensive and require a great deal of expertise. So naturally, the film industry is painstaking in its planning and filming of action sequences. That’s where Umar Khan comes in.
As an actor, director, stunt performer and action designer, Khan has been instrumental to the success of a countless array of productions. Most recently, Khan’s work can be seen in the star-studded blockbusters “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” starring Tina Fey, and Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” starring Chris Evans and Robert Downey, Jr. His professional martial arts training and conditioning makes him the top choice for directors who won’t settle for the second-best. Together with Stunt Fighting Concept, the action design team he founded, Khan is dedicated to designing and executing stunts and fight scenes that are not only intense and hair-raising but realistic and immersive.
“The fight sequences I design are meant to look very authentic due to the actual physical contact me and my teammates are inflicting upon each other,” Khan said. “My team consists of guys that have fought professionally or are highly trained in various areas of the stunt business and are used to the physical contact as myself.”
Among the many projects Khan has been a part of is “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – District Voices,” a 2014 mini-series produced by Google and Lionsgate to coincide with the massively successful “Hunger Games” series. Those familiar with the series are well aware of the intense action sequences and fight scenes which define it, and “District Voices” is no exception. Given the enormous popularity and fanbase of the series, it’s a testament to Khan’s skill and reputation that he was chosen to serve as the fight choreographer for the mini-series.
Khan is also known for his 2015 role in “Close Range,” the action-packed story of a man’s battle against all odds to rescue his family. The film stars Scott Adkins (“The Bourne Ultimatum,” “Zero Dark Thirty”) as Colton MacReady, an ex-soldier who’s forced to take matters into his own hands when the Mexican cartel kidnaps his sister and niece. Khan assumes the role of Sesma, a high-ranking cartel hitman tasked with stopping and killing MacReady.
In addition to being unparalleled as both an actor and action choreographer, Khan is also gifted with an extraordinary eye for cinematography. Together with his team, he is pioneering the use of a revolutionary new tool they have aptly dubbed the “semi-drone.”
“Our system freely captures the fights and action in a video game style by utilizing the director of photography as a part of the movement within the scene along with the performers, and having a second camera operator moving the camera through a monitor for a more up-close and detailed view of the action,” Khan described.
“You get the best of both worlds: the sense of POV along with the interactive part of 3D, which makes it feel like you are a part of the action.”
There is never a dull moment for Umar Khan, and the steady stream of projects in need of his expertise never slows down. With a lifetime of experience and boundless passion for his work, it’s no wonder he’s in such high demand. Those who want to catch more of him and his work are in luck: “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is in theaters now, and the hotly-anticipated “Captain America: Civil War” is scheduled for release this summer.