Everybody loves a good action movie, and there are very few good action movies without good stunts. Stunts are the backbone of action movies and have been an element of filmmaking from the very beginning. Tons of work goes into creating mind-blowing stunts, and a lot of that work falls on the shoulders of the Stunt Coordinator. So, let’s dive in: what is a Stunt Coordinator, and what are the ins and outs of their profession?

Watch: Stunt Coord. Explains Mission: Impossible Stunts

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What is a Stunt Coordinator?

What does a Stunt Coordinator do?

Before we get into how to become a Stunt Coordinator, we need to nail down what exactly the position is. Look no further:


What is a Stunt Coordinator?

A Stunt Coordinator oversees the execution of stunts on a film or TV set. They are involved in the stunt process from beginning to end; they plan out the stunts, cast the stunt performers, and ensure the safety of each stunt. These coordinators are typically seasoned stunt performers themselves, and they often work closely with the director to achieve his or her vision realistically and safely.

Stunt Coordinator Duties:

  • Planning stunts
  • Casting stunt performs
  • Prioritizing safety
  • Consulting with director

What is a Stunt Coordinator?

Stunt Coordinator job description

A Stunt Coordinator has to oversee a large array of moving parts. It’s not as simple as doing a stunt and calling it a day. Let’s go through a few of a coordinator’s key responsibilities.

Choreograph Stunts

This is the fun part. Often working closely with the director and other above-the-line personnel, the Stunt Coordinator plans out what exactly a stunt for a scene will look like.

Coordinating stunts is a very involved process. Every aspect of the stunt needs to be examined and taken into account.

This video looks into the basics of fight choreography (which often also involves a fight choreographer):

Stunt choreographer on fighting

Risk Assessment

This is arguably the most important part. Once the coordinator knows what the stunt will look like, they need to think about all the ways it could go wrong.

After doing this assessment, the coordinator can then make sure the right precautions are put in place to avoid or address potential hazards that could crop up.

What is a Stunt Coordinator in Film Stunt Coordinator Wade Eastwood on set Stunt coordinator job description

Stunt Coordinator Job Description  •  Wade Eastwood on set (in red)

Stunt Casting

When the Stunt Coordinator knows everything that needs to go into the stunt, they will then look into casting the right performer for the job. This doesn’t just mean finding a body double who looks like the actor, it means finding someone who has the right skill set. In other words, a stunt performer.

Remember, stunts can take many different forms. Is the stunt falling off a tall building? A fist fight? Swimming underwater? The coordinator will cast the person with expertise that matches the stunt.

Oversee Rehearsal

Stunts require a lot of prep work. The coordinator makes sure everyone involved is trained up before shooting, minimizing the likelihood of any surprises on set.

Check out this video on the preparation required from this key role:

Stunt choreographer work

Collaborate with the Crew

It doesn’t matter how good a stunt is if it doesn’t look good on camera. This means that a Stunt Coordinator needs to be in constant communication with the director, assistant director, and camera operator to make sure the stunt is reading on camera.

What is a Stunt Coordinator in Film Sam Hargrave Headshot

I think action is a universal language, right? I think one of the reasons these movies do so well internationally is the spectacle transcends languages. When you have a specific point of view that I think a lot of these people who come from action do have, it’s a new thing for audiences to go, “Oh, wow, this is a beautiful way to see these fight scenes and car chases,” and it’s through a specific lens of the person who has been expert in that for so long.

— Sam Hargrave on good stunt work

Depending on the stunt, a coordinator may also need to work with other departments, like special effects, costumes, makeup, and props. In the case of Wade Eastwood, he also serves as the 2nd Unit Director, which gives him even more control over the stunts and how they are captured on film.

Here's an interview with Eastwood explaining how this works on the Mission: Impossible films.

Full Wade Eastwood interview

Getting the Gig

How to become a Stunt Coordinator

Does this type of position sound up your alley? Stunt coordinating is a pretty coveted position, but through hard work you can get there.

Almost all coordinators start out as stunt performers. Stunt performers get hands-on experience to really understand everything that goes into pulling off a stunt.

As a stunt performer with aspirations for coordinating, it’s a good idea to get experience in as many stunt fields as possible, like gymnastics, martial arts, skydiving, swimming, driving, and more. Having knowledge in a variety of fields will make you a more appealing prospect for a coordinator position.

Coordinator Abbi Collins elaborates on the process:

Becoming a stunt coordinator

Stunt Coordinators also need to have extensive knowledge about professional health and safety codes.

SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents actors as well as stunt performers and coordinators, has certain benchmarks someone needs to hit to become a coordinator.

All in all, SAG-AFTRA requires a Stunt Coordinator to have worked 500 days as a stunt performer. After 250 days, a stunt performer can enter a mentor program where they can learn from a veteran coordinator. After 350 days, a performer can become an apprentice coordinator.

What is a Stunt Coordinator in Film Simon Crane Headshot

[I spent] Two years at law school, hated every second, so I joined the circus. I was in the circus for three years doing acrobatics. In England, you need to be an instructor in six sports to get into stunts, so I did that. Then I got into stunts with all that. And I've been very lucky, you know I went from stuntman to stunt coordinator to now, Second Unit Director.

— Simon Crane on becoming a coordinator

Sometimes, coordinators can continue to ascend the ranks of the production hierarchy, becoming second unit directors (where they focus mainly on action) or even directors. Take Chad Stahelski, who began as a stuntman, then made his name as a stunt coordinator, and now is a director for the acclaimed John Wick franchise.

In this video, we analyzed how Stahelski’s work is influenced by his days working in stunts:

John Wick stunts  •  Subscribe on YouTube

So say you finally become a Stunt Coordinator. What can you expect in terms of compensation?


Stunt Coordinator salary

A Stunt Coordinator salary varies wildly, depending on the amount of projects they take per year and the nature of said projects. 

Coordinators working on small indie movies may not make more than $20,000. A veteran coordinator working on blockbusters, meanwhile, can expect over $100,000.

What is a Stunt Coordinator in Film Coordinator Andy Gill on the Talladega Nights set likely getting a high stunt coordinator salary

Coordinator Andy Gill on the Talladega Nights set

A coordinator can also make additional money by performing some of the stunts themselves. The more dangerous the stunt, the more they get paid.

Luckily, Stunt Coordinators are ensured a certain level of compensation by SAG-AFTRA.

Where to Find Jobs

How to find Stunt Coordinator jobs

Because becoming a coordinator requires being a seasoned stunt performer, many stunt coordinators jobs are obtained through word-of-mouth.

That said, once SAG-AFTRA has confirmed your 500 days, you are added to the union’s Stunt Coordinator Roster. This list is made available to producers, directors, and other industry professionals who may hire you off of that list.

You can also use other oft-used entertainment industry job boards, such as ProductionHUB, EntertainmentCareers, Mandy, and Staff Me Up.

Finally, you may also be able to find openings on more general job boards such as ZipRecruiter or Indeed. But remember, your best bet is through the connections you’ve made as a stunt performer.

Up Next

Discover more filmmaking roles

We’ve given you a high-level overview of what goes into becoming a stunt coordinator. To continue through our series of the various filmmaking roles and positions, you can explore similar jobs like stunt performers, special effects supervisor, or second unit director. Or you can jump over to our Film Crew Index to browse the entire range of filmmaking roles. Understanding what everyone’s role on a film set is will help make you a better overall filmmaker and a more efficient crew member.

Up Next: Explore more crew positions →
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  • Rex Provost is an award-winning writer/director based in New York. When he’s not making movies he’s writing about them.

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