Stunt Coordinator TJ White and Stunt Driver Terry James on set of Justin Bieber “Boyfriend” Music Video.
What does it take to be a great Stunt Coordinator? Many think that you can just get handed the accolade and title of stunt coordinator. This happens on many projects where a director, producer, UPM or even someone’s assistant may know a stunt person and all of sudden they think they would be able to stunt coordinate a project for them. With more and more under qualified and/or inexperienced stunt coordinators supervising jobs where people are getting hurt or even killed, insurance companies are getting more involved with risk management. Not only are people getting injured but the stunt is not performed the way the producer or director envisioned making production costs increase.
An experienced stunt coordinator must at least be a stuntman or stunt woman themselves for at least 10 years learning the craft of designing stunt sequences, setting up stunts, performing stunts, and working closely with productions. Sharpening their craft by learning from experienced stunt coordinators, special effects supervisors, stunt performers, directors, and producers. Many stunt people make the jump into stunt coordinating because they are not able to work as much as a stunt performer and feel they would work more as a coordinator. The transition must be made based on experience, trust, and more importantly a pristine safety record.
Many Stunt Coordinators specialize in certain stunts such as car work, horse work, fights, flying planes or helicopters, armory, wire work, fire, underwater, ect. It is rare to find a stunt coordinator that is an expert in all of these skills. That is why some coordinators are better for some jobs over others. A coordinators capacity is always challenged and advanced as they are constantly studying new techniques and other specialties in order to make them more knowledgeable on what they’re doing and what others in the industry are doing.
Music videos have recently made a comeback with reveune streams from YouTube and Sony and Universal’s Vimeo. Not only are people able to search the web for there favorite videos but record labels and artist are able to track their success. There was once a time that people could only have their video on MTV, VH1, Much Music, Fuse or CMT. Then they would hope it would be on the top 10 count down. Now the world is able to watch their video and share it across their social media network making the video’s exposure that more expansive. With fans around the world sharing the video on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and many more websites. This opens up their fan base allowing people to listen and watch the music video anytime and everywhere they go.
Record labels, management companies and artist are seeing that the music video is a great way to cross market other products the artist may be endorsing. The artists of today is sponsored by energy drinks, watch companies, their own clothing line, and even fragrances. This cross promotion allows companies to get their product out to millions of people and are able to quantify that by seeing how many views it was played through the online analytics.
Stunt Coordinator TJ White with Justin Timberlake on the set of N’Sync Music Video
Stunt Flying rig for a NEYO Music Video, Directed by Wayne Isham
Stunt wire work has advanced tremendously in the last 10 years. Stunt Coordinators and Stunt Rigging companies have invested millions of dollars and man hours to design some of the most technically savvy systems. Using these wire systems and visual effects gives the production the opportunity to tell their story in a far more realistic way.
Using computerized high speed winch systems allows the stunt coordinator to re-set the action in a timely manner and make it repeatable. This gives your production more chances to get the shot they really want.
Stunt Wire work for David Guetta Music Video shot at Red Studios in Hollywood California.
Stunt Wire rigging is very dangerous and should not be done by anyone that is not experienced. The design of the wire rig comes right at conception when the story boards are shown to the Stunt Coordinator. At that time the Stunt Coordinator will design the wire rig to get the exact shot the production is looking for. A select few very talented and experienced Stunt Coordinators specialize in wire rigs because it is a very complicated, timely and expensive process.
On an even simple wire rig a Stunt Rigging team may use more than $100,000 worth of stunt rigging equipment. Stunt Rigging equipment should be maintained and serviced on a regular basis to ensure safety for the stunt team and more importantly for the actors that dare to do as much of the stunt as they can.
Wire work is not a frugal concept but with it, your entire production and concept can be exponentially elevated to look far better than the projects that do not have it.