If you thought that your lifestyle was an active one it’s time to think again.. Rawness own Jörgen Brennicke has been hanging out with the stuntman, actor and director Umar Khan in Los Angeles. Read about how he is training, what products are hot and why virtual reality is ” the next big thing” !
Two weeks ago I was in Los Angeles where I had the luck to meet up with Umar Khan just before he took off for a film production in China with director Peng Zhang for a few months.
I got to know Umar when he was using the gym of the Dojo in Stockholm where I have been sweating for years. Soke Tamas Weber could see his qualities and focus and he let him practice there as much as he wanted. And he wanted it, a lot. I had the opportunity to train with Umar for a year or so before he left for Los Angeles.
- Umar Khan in [email protected] Kinney blvd Venice. Los Angeles. Image by Brennicke.
In my series Active People By Brennicke I bring you – Umar Khan.
My name is Umar Khan I’m an actor, stunt performer, action designer and director. I was born in Lahore, Pakistan, but me and my family moved to Stockholm, Sweden when I was 2 years old. A few years ago I moved to Los Angeles, California to follow my childhood dream.
Would you call your lifestyle an active one ?
Yes, I wake up early in the mornings to go for a run. When I come back I do ab workouts and later on during the day I train martial arts and choreography with my stunt team (I train a lot of different styles of martial arts so I divide them on different days), I also do a lot of track and field, powerlifting, gymnastics, parkour, CrossFit and bar training in addition to maintain my speed, agility, power etc.
On my days off I do enjoy travelling a lot, I go hiking, rock climbing, scuba diving, canoeing, skydiving and schedule is always packed with different outdoor activities…
- Umar Khan has it figured out. Image by Brennicke
What are your favourite products right now ?
I use a lot of different product’s for my workouts, some of the ones I use frequently are The Elevation Mask, weight vest, Vibram Five Fingers training shoes, bar, ab wheel, TRX (Total Body Resistance Exercise).
Who or what are you inspired by in your training ?
I get inspired by a lot of different things, I’m a deep thinker so I have a very vivid imagination and I like create something unique and innovative, sometimes modify somethings that have already been done.
I can’t say I’m inspired by a single person (there have been great people who have contributed a lot to Martial arts and films in general and I do see certain things they have done as an inspiration) but what really inspires me as I’ve had a lot of different inspirations sources, are moments, movements, art, philosophy, history and science.
- Umar Khan warming up with some shadowboxing. Image by Brennicke.
Are there any trends that you see in the future for an active lifestyle ?
I’m very fond of art and technology, there is an innovative technology that is going to hit the market pretty soon, it’s called Oculus VR, it’s basically a technology that allows you to step into the world of Virtual Reality, I’m excited to see how far they will take it as I’m looking to see if me and my team can do some sort of a concept for action design within the system that allows a person to basically become an action hero fighting villains, crashing cars, jumping off buildings etc.
That’s something I would like to put my hands on in the future.
Please tell me about your stunt team.
- Umar Khan working with his stunt team. Stunt Fighting Concept – Umar Khan Stunt Team. It’s Umar holding the gun. Image by Brennicke.
I designed a fight sequence back in 2014 on the TV mini-series “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – District Voices.” While designing the fight scene for the series an idea I had many years ago of creating my own stunt team came back and so a couple of months later I formed my own team, Stunt Fighting Concept – Umar Khan Stunt Team.
We have been fortunate enough after creating our first action design pre-viz (sponsored by Under Armor Germany) to get a lot of calls from producers requesting to make a pre-viz for their upcoming projects. The general idea of my fight designs is to make it look as authentic as possible but also visually attractive for the audience, along with the unique camera technology that we possess (the only one on the market), the camera operator can approach the performers much closer in order to get the hands on feeling on the actual fight and give the audience almost a third person POV, video game kind of feel to it. With this system in use comes a lot of other responsibilities to keep in mind. Not only safety for the performers but also safety for the camera operator who is now one more “performer” in the mix and automatically becomes a safety priority.
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, it’s not something I recommend; 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. We train the same way real fighters do, with sparring sessions combined with our choreography training to have the best of both worlds and adapt fast.
The second thing is the environment and the props. Basically we use props that look authentic and can simulate the real thing, just like in any of the props on set, we utilize them when we need but as little as possible since one of the main features of the camera technology we use is to capture the action scenes in “one shot.” We are limited when it comes to cuts between scenes so it requires a lot more from the performers to stay in shape, being well rehearsed and being sharp to prevent unaccommodated injuries to themselves or their fellow partners.
- Umar Khan kickin it. Image by Brennicke.
Could you tell me some more about the film technology ?
It’s basically something that we refer to as a “Semi-drone.” We believe that our concept will revolutionize how filmmakers capture movie fights and overall action scenes in the future.
The reason being is that our system freely captures the fights and action in a video game style look by utilizing the DoP/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, this way it won’t leave a single part of the move out for the audience to feel, 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.
It’s a pretty advanced technology that we are happy to bring to the big screen soon.
- Stunt Fighting Concept – Umar Khan Stunt Team. Image by Brennicke.
Dreams and goals ?
My dreams or goals as I call them for the future are to develop more innovative Action Design for major shows and carry on what I started when I was in middle school, when I used to borrow the school’s camera and bring my friends to different locations to shoot my own projects, this time I’ll do it with my stunt team and with big budget projects.
I also have plans to star and direct in my own projects in the future with big budgets as I have done a lot of my own projects with no budget back in Sweden, it’s the passion and determination that has helped me achieve what I have achieved so far with no funding or help, I believe with the right budget the possibilities are endless.
Aside from my creative dreams I would like to do things for people in need, that has been a part of who I am growing up. Helping your fellow man is something I strongly believe in as I go by the rule “The true value of a man is not measured for what he does for himself but what he does for someone else and if you help someone in need without the concern of getting something back”, you’ll reach true happiness from within and that’s a state of happiness that stays for the rest of your life… as a public person I believe that we have a responsibility since many people get inspired by us daily from what we do in our every day lives, I see it as a blessing and a curse, a blessing because you have the power to change things for the better due to the influence you put on people, the curse because most known people or celebrities don’t really understand what effect they have on people that look up to them.
My goal later on is to use the fame or popularity that this industry is bringing to inspire people not just only to the creative side but also to help others in need. I’m planning on opening schools for children in underdeveloped countries as well as hospitals. That is my goal outside of the creative industry…
- Stunt Fighting Concept – Umar Khan Stunt Team. Image by Brennicke