Mike Estes interview: Dangerous Entertainment’s Jack of All Trades

Photo: Mike Estes- Virus Nine Courtesy of Mike Estes
Photo: Mike Estes- Virus Nine Courtesy of Mike Estes /
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Mike Estes
Photo: Mike Estes.. Courtesy of Mike Estes /

Mike Estes is a familiar face for horror fans who frequent the convention scene. He is the owner of Dangerous Entertainment whose client list is iconic to say the least. We sat down with this Jack of All Trades to discuss everything from his punk rock beginnings, his work as a stuntman and his status as right-hand man to Bruce Campbell.

Mike Estes has been a staple on the horror convention scene for years. The owner of Dangerous Entertainment, his client list is like a veritable who’s who of the genre. In addition to being Bruce Campbell’s go-to guy, he represents Ted Raimi, Sam Raimi, Cerina Vincent, Rose McGowan, Jim Belushi and Virginia Madsen.

However, Estes wears quite a few hats. When he isn’t on the road traveling around the con circuit, he is doing stunt work on such shows as The Mandalorian, the upcoming Space Force and the new Star Trek series, Picard.

We were fortunate enough to sit down with Mike to discuss the evolution of his career. From his early punk rock beginnings in Medford, Oregon, to his behind the scenes work at Landmine Productions, Estes has done it all.

Now, its time to meet this modern-day Renaissance man.

The Interview

Mike Estes
Photo: Mike Estes- Virus Nine Courtesy of Mike Estes /

Punk Is a Way of Life

1428 Elm: Thanks for speaking with us, Mike! Let’s start by talking a little bit about your background which is very eclectic. You were with a Punk band called Virus Nine. You formed the group in 1995 right at the height of Grunge which was like a rediscovery of that sound. Tell us about that time.

Mike Estes: I formed the group with a good buddy of mine when we were in high school. We grew up around punk so we naturally played that style of music. We were influenced by Street Punk, the Hardcore, the California Surf Punk, Black Flag and Social Distortion. Of course, there were new bands at the time like Rancid, Bad Religion and the Dropkick Murphys. We were heavily influenced by them as well.

We leaned more toward the Punk Rock stuff rather than the Grunge scene like the anti-establishment, anti-authority, teen angst high school sound. Our first release was a cassette, in 95 or 96 called The Welfare Society.

It was recorded in my parents living room. My parents were very supportive of our band. They even went to our shows. My bandmates were family, we were all very good buddies.

I didn’t go to college; I went on tour with my band. That was sort of my introduction to life. It got me out of my small town in Southern Oregon (Medford), we got to see the country and meet people we would have never been able to meet otherwise and get our music out there.

Punk Rock was a huge part of my young life and it’s still a part of my life, even now. Everything I have done in life, every person that I have met, every convention I have been to, every TV show or movie that I have been a part of, I can certainly circle back to my time with Virus Nine. It’s all connected, everything in life. One thing leads to another.

1428 Elm: Interestingly enough, you went from music which seems like it might have been your career path into the film business. How did that transition happen?

Mike Estes: It’s oddly very similar. The entertainment business is so broad as you know with music, movies and TV that they sort of interconnect and interact in a weird way.

When we first started out as a band, I was working at a skate shop. I met someone at the shop and her husband, John Foote, owned an independent film studio in Medford. To this day he still is a mentor and a dear friend.

I brought him my cassette because his wife at the time said he knew bands and he was putting on live shows. At that time, he was doing a show with Automatic 7. They were on BYO records (Better Youth Organization) out of Los Angeles.

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We ended up becoming friends. I started interning at his studio doing behind the scenes stuff and it just so happened that Landmine Productions (Foote’s studio) was starting an indie record label within his studio. He wanted to put out a record for my band so we collaborated and made a 7” record.

John put us on his label, Mental Records. Not only was I learning the film business at Landmine but I was also learning the recording business as well. Five or six years later, I ended up managing the record label.

I like to attribute my work ethic on set to John and a lot of the things I learned about both sides of the business from him.

Always Be Training

1428 Elm: Did you start your career in stunts at Landmine as well?

Mike Estes: I did more on camera work like shooting music videos for my band so I did more acting. When I was in Miami with Bruce Campbell on Burn Notice, I started hanging out with a couple of the stunt guys and they threw me a bone.

They put me in a chopper in military gear and I sort of fell in love with it that way. Then I started doing indies with buddies of mine like Chris Darland who shot a local film in Medford called American Thrill Ride.

Through the process, I started falling in love with the craft. You have to hone your skills with courses. In Miami, I started boxing again so that is my foundation and core.

There are so many places in L.A. to study. I started hanging with T.J. Storm (Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Godzilla King of the Monsters) and taking his mo-cap, fight classes and stunt classes.

When I was in New Zealand with Bruce working on Ash vs Evil Dead, I got an acting gig. I auditioned for a role in the Fire in the Hole episode. I played Austin and I had some really fun one liners.

Some of the work on that show was stunt related so I hung with the coordinator out there and his team. You pick up things along the way and you learn on set.

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Safety is a priority. You have to train and always be ready.

1428 Elm: Do you have any advice for people who are considering a career in stunt work?

Mike Estes: The only advice I can give which encompasses the entire film business is be cool because that production assistant on set that you didn’t give the time of day to, could eventually be an executive producer.

People remember if they get treated like s***. Show up on time, hit your marks, know your lines, stay in your lane and don’t be a squeaky wheel. Just do your thing and let everybody else do their thing.

For stunts, always be in training. Never let yourself slip. Learn new skills. Always aspire to be better tomorrow than you are today.