Art Department Coordinator
The art department coordinator acts as the administrator of the crew; he or she is under the supervision of the art director. The coordinator assists this person in the business matters of the department, as well as the smooth operation of pre-production, principal photography, and wrap-up.
The art department coordinator begins work during pre-production and is responsible for tasks as delegated by the art director. These tasks will include managing all department communications concerning scheduling, such as informing pertinent staff of design meetings, delivery deadlines, and related events. It is the coordinator’s job to ensure that all parties are on the same page and informed about decisions and changes that will affect the development of art assets and concept material. He or she will also participate in research. If the art director is trying to pin down the accurate aesthetic of Morocco in the early 1900s to produce a convincing exterior set, the coordinator must use all available resources to gather necessary information concerning color, style, textures, and materials for that purpose.
In preparation for construction of scenery, this person is responsible for documenting a complete materials and equipment list and then for gathering vendor proposals for renting or purchase. When the appropriate vendors have been selected, the coordinator will oversee the purchase or rental agreements and collect applicable paperwork for billing. Therefore, the coordinator is also tasked with tracking the art department budget and delivering that information to the line producer. Other duties delegated to this position may include scheduling crew and documenting time sheets. During production, the coordinator continues to monitor expenditures against the budget and turns that information over to the production office, as well communicating call times for the art department crew. At the conclusion of principal photography, he or she must hand over all budget documentation for billing to the line producer, and see that vendors are paid. This person must also manage the return of all rentals to the appropriate vendors.
Skills & Education
A college degree in film and television production or theatrical design in recommended, and study should include courses in entertainment business with an emphasis on finance, accounting, and management. An art background with training in fine art is also useful. The art department coordinator must understand the production process, as well as the procedures for obtaining vendor bids, securing contracts, billing, and budgeting. Excellent computer skills are required, and the coordinator should be familiar with Word, Excel, and various budget-tracking software. The individual best suited for the role is highly organized, meticulous, and able to juggling multiple competing priorities.
What to Expect
If you are more comfortable around spreadsheets and purchase orders than a paintbrush, than this may be the right gig for you. The art department coordinator is able to contribute to the creative process of filmmaking or television production, without the necessity for advanced artistic skill. However, there can de a downside. For those who are looking to advance in an artistic role, the coordinator job may be a dead end, as no one will have the opportunity to see your talent if you are stuck plugging in Excel formulas. Those wishing to advance to the position of assistant art director or set designer should concentrate on artistic roles within the department. On the other hand, coordinators who are strictly interested in the business side of entertainment can pursue opportunities as a line producer, unit production manager, associate producer, or similar role. A path toward becoming an art department coordinator usually begins as an office production assistant or as a full-time employee at a scenic and props company.
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