Construction Coordinator

  • Construction Coordinator

Take away the work of the construction department on a film or television program, and what you have are actors standing on a bare soundstage with no scenery to ground the story. To ensure the quality execution of set designs according to the vision of the director and production designer, the construction coordinator will supervise the crew of carpenters and is accountable for concerns relating to the budget, materials, and equipment.


Duties

The construction coordinator begins work early in the pre-production process and answers to the production designer. In initial creative meetings, he or she will meet with members of the art department to review set designs and collect supporting materials like scale models or photographs. With the script breakdown in mind, this person may wish to tour production locations in order to account for the specific logistical concerns of the soundstage or outdoor environment. According to the designs presented, the construction coordinator will hire appropriate crew and consult with the construction buyer to determine the equipment and materials necessary to complete the build. In coordination with the line producer or unit production manager, the construction coordinator will develop a department budget and allocate funds suitably. The budget and construction timeline shall determine the work schedule and help in the delegation of assignments to the crew.

During the construction process, the coordinator will be required to regularly update the production designer on the progress of the construction and will continuously monitor the work of the carpenters to ensure adherence to the design specifications, as well as seeing that work is completed to the proper standard of quality. Safety must be the highest priority for the construction coordinator, and he or she is responsible for enforcing safety protocols at the work site. This includes seeing that all employees use the appropriate personal protective equipment and that the shop is kept clean and neat to minimize the potential for accidents.

Skills & Education

A college degree in film and television production with a concentration in carpentry and scenic design is encouraged, but a similar major in theatrical design is also applicable. Equivalent experience in commercial and residential construction is also useful, with additional training on the specific techniques employed within the entertainment industry. Though scenery for the stage and screen are built to be lighter, cheaper, and portable, sets must still be sturdy and safe for actors. As such, the construction coordinator must understand the common principles of carpentry and be able to instruct others in the proper methods. This person should be comfortable around mechanical equipment and knowledgeable about typical shop tools, like table saws and impact drivers. Courses in physics and advanced mathematics are also helpful, as construction relies on precise measurement and attention to load capacities.

What to Expect

As a department head, the construction coordinator is a senior-level position that requires several years of professional experience. Prior employment as a carpenter or construction foreman on a film or television production is required. Opportunities exist for freelancers, as well as permanent employees who may work for a scenic company that caters to the entertainment industry. Typical work conditions will include 40 hours per week, but schedules may vary from the usual nine-to-five, to also include overnight shifts and weekends, depending on the production schedule. The coordinator will work in the scenic shop and have direct contact with the paint department, as well as other department heads during pre-production. Those working in this craft are eligible for membership in IATSE, the union that represents artists and technicians within the entertainment industry.

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