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What Does a Stunt Coordinator Do?

By T. Carrier
Updated Jan 28, 2024
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A stunt coordinator is responsible for overseeing all aspects of entertainment venue stunts, from casting to choreography. These individuals might be employed by companies that produce television shows or films or by theater companies or other organizations that host live entertainment performances. The coordinator might work in conjunction with actors, directors or other professionals to design and implement stunt scenes. They routinely deal with highly specialized skills, including diving, martial arts, gymnastics, rock climbing and fire wielding.

Stunts are portions of a filmed or live performance that usually carry some element of risk or danger. These often include action sequences in movies or television shows that require the use of special equipment and the replacement of actors with stuntmen or stuntwomen. Such stunt sequences are performed with safety in mind.

One of the primary stunt coordinator duties is bringing the vision of an action scene to life. People usually are involved in stunts, so securing skilled stunt performers is of great importance. In casting, the coordinator might peruse head shots and view reels, which are steps that help narrow the field of candidates. The coordinator then might conduct interviews with final candidates and subject the contenders to demonstrations of physical skills.

After casting is completed, the coordinator is involved in helping performers properly execute specific maneuvers. The stunt coordinator might have a hand in choreographing fight sequences, for instance. If the stunts involve falling, swimming or other action-oriented activities, the coordinator assists in ensuring that these moves are performed safely and simulated realistically.

Many stunts require specific equipment such as cars or weapons. Stunt coordinators' requirements often therefore include responsibility for determining what tools are needed and how these tools will be used during the stunt. For example, a scene that involves an exploding car might require the coordinator to figure the logistics of safely destroying the car and what particular objects will be used to perform this task. Other tasks that the coordinator must orchestrate in such a scene might include driving or crashing. These individuals are responsible for determining the location of a stunt sequence as well.

During the actual filming or performance of a stunt, the stunt coordinator usually is on hand to provide feedback and to address any unforeseen problems. He or she might review the routine with performers. Directors and the film crew might also need the stunt coordinator’s feedback on desired camera angles or needed filming equipment.

Preparing for a stunt coordinator job is somewhat unconventional. Perhaps the most crucial talent that a stunt coordinator should possess is intimate understanding of the techniques and physical conditioning needed to perform stunts. As such, stunt coordinators are often individuals who have previous direct experience as stuntmen or stuntwomen. Individuals can gain experience in this area by performing in extreme sports venues or by going to a stunt school where specific techniques are taught. These prospects also join organizations that provide networking opportunities, which are important contacts when an individual begins focusing on stunt coordinator jobs.

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