The 2020 Emmy nominations were announced last week and on that list was Stranger Things stunt coordinator Hiro Koda. He was nominated for “Outstanding Stunt Coordination For A Drama Series, Limited Series or Movie”. This marks Koda’s sixth nomination, the show received eight nominations including Best Outstanding Drama Series. Koda recently released a behind the scenes video (below) of his work on Season 3 and it’s easy to see why he is getting recognized. Between Hopper’s elaborate fights, Billy’s steam room scene with Eleven and the Star Court mall Camaro sequence, Season 3 was pretty action packed to say the least. We talked with Koda about his work on the Netflix fan favorite below.
Wicked Horror: You have said you were a fan of Stranger Things before you started working on Season 3, what intrigued you most about the series?
Hiro Koda: My kids were the ones who got me into the show. They are huge fans! The thing that intrigued me the most about Stranger Things was how an 80’s throwback show became such a phenomenon. It’s wonderfully written and crafted with rich characters, exciting story lines and incredible Visual Effects.
Wicked Horror: Having watched Stranger Things before working on it, were there stunts or certain moves you knew you wanted to suggest once you got on set? Or stunts you hoped you would get to do?
Hiro Koda: I love working in the Horror/ SciFi genre and have for a good portion of my career. I certainly had no idea they were going to amp up the action in Season 3 as much as they did. But, I enjoy getting to implement a lot of wire work and fights with supernatural beings like we do on Stranger Things.
Wicked Horror: You directed the Hopper and Grigori finale fight. What part of that fight do you think really took the scene to the next level?
Hiro Koda: For me the moment Grigori tossed Joyce into the consul was the moment the scene hit a whole other level. The audience had never seen Joyce hurt like that before. The fight escalated from there and midway through the fight when Hopper starts to make his comeback, we feel the scene go up a level. David Harbour (Hopper) and Andrey Ivchenko (Grigori) worked their asses off for 4 1/2 days straight with that scene.
Wicked Horror: Because Stranger Things is a streaming show and everything airs at once, I imagine there is the freedom to shoot out of sequence. Do you all shoot scenes together that make the most sense, budget wise, even if they are from different episodes? Or do you try to film the scenes for each specific episode together?
Hiro Koda: We shoot 2 episodes at a time and for the most part stay within those episodes. Specific scenes are combined together to make sense of the schedule. Every once in a while, we will pick up scenes for other Episodes if needed due to a location or other unforeseen reason.
Wicked Horror: In the stunt reel you recently released, there are a lot of fight sequences in there. As a stunt coordinator, do you think that these intricate fights are your specialty?
Hiro Koda: Intricate Fights and Wire Work are definitely my specialties. I have been training in Karate since I was 2 years old and have expanded to other Martial Arts styles as well. I’m not limited to one style of fighting which has helped me in my career and I continue to expand my training to keep things fresh and innovative with my choreography.
Wicked Horror: You worked on HBO’s True Blood, what stunt are you most proud of from that series?
Hiro Koda: In Season 6 there’s a scene where Bill (Stephen Moyer) thinks he can day walk but ends up catching on fire. We had two different stunt doubles that did full body practical fire burns on two different days. The circumstances were challenging because we had a very small time frame at dawn to shoot the initial burn. Every detail had to be precisely timed and rehearsed out. Another challenge was doing a full burn with no fire safety mask. My amazing stunt Fire Team from Action Factory pulled this off without a hitch.
Wicked Horror: Who from the True Blood cast preferred to do their own stunts, instead of having a double?
Hiro Koda: They all loved getting into stunts when their characters had action. If I had to pick one specifically it would probably be Joe Manganiello. He loved getting to perform action!
Wicked Horror: Another horror series you worked on, both as stunt coordinator and 2nd unit director is Cinemax’s Outcast. Do you have a favorite memory from that show?
Hiro Koda: What an incredible Cast and Crew. I was very sad when the show was cancelled! Having Patrick Fugit as your lead actor is a blessing when it comes to action. He is a great martial artist and would come in on his days off to perform with the stunt team in my pre-viz shoots. My favorite memories from that show are him and Madeleine McGraw (Amber Barnes) hanging out with stunt team and coming up with their own “stunts”. They were very creative!