Buzz Magazine - July 2016
Bringing Action to the Big Screen
Photograph and Article by Mike Kuusela
Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with a former business acquaintance and current Hollywood stuntman, Nick Loren. Nick Loren has been the long time stunt double of John Travolta and has recently made a name for himself in the world of children's literature.
Nick and I used to work together at First Coast News in downtown Jacksonville when Nick was co-hosting on Jacksonville's local program, "First Coast Living" with Casey Black Desantis. Nick provided an inside look at businesses and local entrepreneurs on the show.
During our interview, I discovered the back story of Nick's career and what had brought him to Jacksonville. Originally from, San Diego, California, Nick entered the entertainment out of high school. His entertainment career developed through his love for music. As a teenager, he used to be in a band, and was even a back up dancer in several 80's music videos.
"I was a single dad to my then four year old son, Tysan," said Nick. "I was discouraged with the politics of the music industry and decided to walk away from all of it in order to provide for my son. It killed me to walk away from it, but it was the only choice I felt I had".
Nick traces his memory and inspiration for being in movies back to the first movie he ever saw by himself, "Grease". That movie changed Nick's life, and ever since he wanted to be in the film industry.
"On Cinco de Mayo of 1996, I was invited to a big industry party" said Nick. "This is where I met my future wife, business partner, and best friend, Denise. It was love at first site. We've been together ever since that night".
A published writer and lyricist, Denise has also spent years as a producer, production manager, and coordinator for networks like the Oprah Winfrey Network, HBO, STYLE Network, HGTV, and more.
A combination of connections and authentic talent began Nick's professional career as a part time stand in on various movies. He explained, "Determined to help me pursue my passion for entertainment, Denise made a few calls and next thing I knew, she had me booked as stand in on a movie. Little did I know that this would be the beginning of my lifelong career in film".
In 1996 he was acting a stunt double for Nicolas Cage in John Woo's "Face/Off". He networked himself amongst the cast members during his two weeks on set. Soon, he received a call to become John Travolta's stunt double.
Nick told me, "This is where I met John and a year later became his personal stand in. It was a few years later that friends encouraged me to take on stunt work. It was a hard decision to make because you have to understand people that go into the industry wanting to be a stuntman have a very unique mindset. I mean human nature is to survive".
Knowing the risk and reward, Nick jumped on the opportunity and has been his stunt double for the last twenty years. His partnership with Travolta has taken him all over the United States and the world.
Nick was first introduces to the First Coast in 2001 when filming "Basic", starring Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta. He had the opportunity to revisit once again in 2005 when filming "Lonely Hearts". This time Nick and his family fell in love with the area and ended up purchasing a home in Amelia Island. That same year, the Vice President of Programming at First Coast News, Bonnie Solloway, approached Nick for the first pilot episode of First Coast Living.
In 2008 while working on "The Taking of Pelham 123," Nick released his debut album, "Forever Be Cool". The project had started way back in 1996, and saw success in the radio world.
After such an exciting Hollywood career, Nick explained his most dangerous stunt. During the filming of "From Paris with Love' in 2008, John Travolta and his partner are chasing a band of terrorists in a high-speed car pursuit. Nick had to hang himself out of an Audi traveling approximately 100 mph, holding a rocket launcher, while a professional driver zipped in and out of traffic. There is part in the scene where Nick had to pull half of his body back into the car before it narrowly misses a semi truck.
"I have to take my family into consideration before doing any stunt," said Nick. "John is the first one to ask 'What does Denise think about this stunt?' It's not something you take lightly."
Panshoo Kids Inc.
Fast-forward a few years, Nick and his family have entered the publishing industry. Nick has always enjoyed reading and has been an avid fan of Dr. Seuss his entire life. Through the inspiration of his own children, Nick developed a children's character known as Farful Foolong, which is a playful alien from the planet Oolong Panshoo. Through his character and his own private publishing firm, Nick hopes to re-establish a love for reading amongst the younger generations.
Nick stated, "Panshoo Books LLC is a proud sponsor of Panshoo Kids Inc. The two organizations have joined forces to do a Florida Children's Hospital Tour to provide a therapeutic and fun literary experience to the children and families of these hospitals. We've also teamed up to start a Northeast Florida school tour which will provide books and live readings to the children of Title One schools."
Panshoo Kids Inc aims to increase childhood literacy for a chance at a better adult life for less privileged kids. National statistics show that one in four children in America grow up without learning how to read, 37% of children arrive at kindergarten without the skills necessary for lifetime learning and two-thirds of students who can not read proficiently by the end of the fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare.
"The incredible response we are getting from the live readings has inspired us to think bigger than ourselves," said Nick. "This issue affects our economy, reduces the competitiveness of our workforce and challenges our highest ideals. My wife, Denise, was deeply affected by the stats on early childhood literacy and the direct impact it has on a child's future."
Nick added, "Denise started Panshoo Kids Inc., a non-profit that aims to empower children everywhere with the opportunities, tools, and desire to become literate, confident, creative, and responsible beings, regardless of their social or economic background."
For more information on Nick's publishing company, Panshoo Books LLC, please visit http://www.panshoobooks.com
For more information on the 501c3 non-profit, Panshoo Kids Inc., please visit http://www.panshookids.org