What Does a Stunt Coordinator Do?

Posted by Maja Aro on Jul 15, 2020 7:14:49 AM

What Does a Stunt Coordinator Do?

Guest blog post by Maja Aro | Sea To Sky Stunts

What Does a Stunt Coordinator Do?Source: Royalty-free stock vector ID: 1421148581, Shutterstock

We have all heard about the high profile stunt-related accidents that have occurred recently (Joi Harris on Deadpool 2, John Bernecker on The Walking Dead) but what about the more common and often overlooked incidences? What about all the close calls? And most importantly, how do we reduce the potential of these accidents happening again?

As a stunt performer, I have personally witnessed and have been involved in a number of on-set accidents. Until recently, it has been our industry culture to just “tough it out” and many of the details are often “swept under the rug”.

The long-term effects of this methodology have left a number of ex-stunt performers with chronic injuries, long-term cognitive dysfunction and in financial hardship with insufficient support as the causes of the injuries were not documented thoroughly.

As a Stunt Coordinator, I have worked to change this culture by increasing transparency in the planning process and making it a priority to share information between departments and amongst my peers.

A written Safe-Work Plan and Risk Assessment (contact Sea To Sky Stunts to request these documents) help make this process open and collaborative. Incidences and close calls are documented, and corrective actions are implemented to prevent similar incidences from occurring in the future.

By their very nature, of course, stunt sequences have elevated risks.

The question is, how should production properly engage in elevated risk activities?

The simple answer: you hire a qualified Stunt Coordinator who is experienced and well versed in the relevant region’s safe-work protocol and occupational health and safety regulations.

This person will provide a clear written work plan that is easily understood by all departments, outlining cast involvement, level of risk and the equipment and procedures involved in executing the sequence safely.

Important Stunt Safety Risk Tolerance Guidelines:

Acceptable Risk Level re: Stunts

Minor lacerations, sprains and other non-long term injuries to a stunt performer fall within the Acceptable risk level when planning a stunt, e.g., minor lacerations of non-vital epidermis to a stunt performer when going through a tempered glass window is an acceptable risk.

Acceptable risk tolerance for cast should never exceed minor athletic injuries (minor bruising, minor abrasions, minor sprains, etc.)

Acceptable risk tolerance for stunt performers should never exceed moderate athletic injuries (moderate bruising, superficial lacerations, 2nd degree burns, non-long-term tendon and bone damage, etc.)

Unacceptable Risk Level re: Stunts

A stunt performer getting large, deep, permanently damaging lacerations or a laceration to a vital sensory organ or any organ is an Unacceptable risk. Other Examples:

  • Severe or cumulative concussions
  • Long-term or debilitating bone, ligament or tendon damage
  • Death

Common Stunt Safety Questions & Answers:

How do I find a qualified Stunt Coordinator for my project?

ACTRA and UBCP govern union Stunt Coordinators and Stunt Performers in Canada. They have a database of all current Stunt Coordinators. As always, resumes and IMDb can be used to review work history.

A Stunt Coordinator should have a provincially recognized:

  • supervisor safety certificate
  • fall protection certificate
  • occupational first aid certificate

These certificates ensure that the Stunt Coordinator has the tools necessary to determine a safe workflow that complies with insurance and liability requirements for their specific region.

Coordinators should also be familiar with the provincial (and/or state) occupational health and safety regulations.

What are some of the questions production should ask when planning a stunt?

  • Has the Stunt Coordinator completed a Safe Work Plan and Risk Assessment? (contact Sea To Sky Stunts to request these documents)
  • Who is involved in the stunt? What is the necessity of cast participation? 
  • Will the stunt require rehearsals? Early access to a location? 
  • What level of First Aid or Emergency Service will be required?
  • What other departments need to be involved in safely planning the stunt?

What are the best practices by which a Stunt Coordinator should be governed?

Most importantly: All performers have the right to say “No” to unsafe work.

It is the Stunt Coordinator’s responsibility to:

  • create an environment where open dialogue can occur (concerns and problems can be resolved without fear of retaliation, bullying or belittlement)
  • ensure that adequate rehearsals and planning occur prior to filming on set
  • ensure that performer credentials are vetted (applicable licences, certifications and accolades)
  • ensure that no agenda takes priority over a performer’s health and safety (artistic decisions by creatives, ethnic sensitivities, etc.)
  • present solutions that are within the acceptable risk tolerance of production

All stunt sequences are unique and present their own individual set of risks and challenges. Again, a qualified Stunt Coordinator will help guide production to produce exciting action sequences while intelligently managing their exposure.

Daily Safety Sign-in Sheet – FREE Download

You may download a copy of Sea To Sky’s Daily Safety Sign-in Sheet. [PDF]

This sheet can be used to keep track of any hazards, the safety precautions being taken to address them, and personnel on set. Ideally, the sheet would be completed in conjunction with a qualified Stunt Coordinator giving a safety orientation of the location at the start of the day.

The goal is to orient new workers, as well as make all workers aware of the workplace hazards on new locations, and clearly explain to all performers what the plan is for the stunts to be performed that day.

 

About:

Maja Aro is a stunt coordinator, stunt performer and filmmaker from Vancouver, BC.  Maja’s decade and a half long career has taken her around the world working on well-known Hollywood blockbusters (Good Boys,  Twilight Saga, The Cabin In The Woods, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters) and hit TV shows (Once Upon A Time, The Man In The High Castle, Supernatural, Smallville, Lost In Space) alike. 

Maja has been nominated for three Leo Awards for “Best Stunt Coordination”, three UBCP awards for “Best Stunt”, and a Taurus World Stunt Award for “Best stunt by a stuntwoman”.  In 2015 Maja was honored with the Stunt Warrior Award from the Artemis film festival celebrating her work as a stuntwoman.  Maja was awarded the Artistic Innovation Spotlight award from WIFTV for designing, testing and using a stunt bra harness on Once Upon A Time.

Sea To Sky Stunts is a Vancouver based stunt company, operating since 2013.   The three owners (Jeff Aro, Scott Nicholson and Maja Aro) have over 60 years of combined experience, multiple awards and nominations, and hundreds of film, TV and commercial credits.  They are a trusted service provider for studios such as Netflix, Amazon, ABC, A&E, and NBC/Universal to name a few.

They specialize in providing stunt related services and consultation, stunt equipment rentals and pride themselves on being on the forefront of safety.

Front Row Insurance Brokers Inc. is an independent insurance broker that provides film insurance for the lowest possible cost. Should a claim occur, Front Row ensures that clients receive the money they are owed per the policy, as quickly as possible.

 

Related Posts:

FILM PRODUCTION INSURANCE: COVERING STUNTS AND SPECIAL EFFECTS

8 WAYS TO SAVE MONEY WHEN INSURING STUNTS & SPFX

DISCLAIMER: Informational statements regarding insurance coverage are for general description purposes only. These statements do not amend, modify or supplement any insurance policy. Consult the actual policy or your broker for details regarding terms, conditions, coverage, exclusions, products, services and programs which may be available to you. Your eligibility for particular products and services is subject to the final determination of underwriting qualifications and acceptance by the insurance underwriting company providing such products or services. This website does not make any representations that coverage does or does not exist for any particular claim or loss, or type of claim or loss, under any policy. Whether coverage exists or does not exist for any particular claim or loss under any policy depends on the facts and circumstances involved in the claim or loss and all applicable policy wording.

Topics: Stunt Insurance, SPFX Insurance

Film Production Companies & Pyrotechnics: Who can work with Pyro?

Posted by David Hamilton on Jan 2, 2013 1:41:00 PM

FILM PRODUCTION COMPANIES & PYROTECHNICS

des éléments pyrotechniques

Only trained and certified workers can plan, rig, and detonate pyrotechnic special effects on a film production. Uncertified SPFX workers could invalidate your film production insurance.

The Explosives Regulatory Division of Natural Resources Canada issues:

four classes of pyrotechnic special effects certification:

1.            Theatrical User

2.            Assistant

3.            Pyro technician or special effects pyro technician

4.            Authority having jurisdiction (ie. A fire chief or fire protection officer)

For additional information about pyrotechnic special effects certification, contact the Explosives Regulatory Division of Natural Resources Canada.

Who is in charge of pyrotechnics?

The special effects coordinator for a production has final authority on all safety matters related to pyrotechnics used in that production. The special effects coordinator must remain on set at all times during the preparation, placement, testing and firing of any pyrotechnic special effect.

Follow all laws and requirements before using pyrotechnic special effects and get all the required licenses and permits.

Use, handle, store and transport pyrotechnic materials in accordance with all applicable federal, provincial and municipal laws such as the Canada Explosives Act, the Transportation of Dangerous Good Act, and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.

specialized film insurance broker is best able to present the risks associated with your film production to the film insurance underwriter to ensure you receive the best coverage and premium for your production.

Front Row Insurance Brokers are specialized Film Insurance Brokers. Please call us if you have any questions.

The above information is  based on WorkSafe – Focus on Safety – Safe Work Practices for Film and Television Production in B.C. (2001 edition)

RELATED:

FILM PRODUCTION COMPANIES & PYROTECHNICS: FILM INSURANCE BEST PRACTICES

Topics: Film Insurance, Stunt Insurance, SPFX Insurance, Pyrotechnics

Firearms on the Film Set | Weapon Safety for Film Producers

Posted by David Hamilton on Dec 14, 2012 11:00:00 AM

Man with gun on film set / Weapon Safety for Film Producers

Firearms on Set | Weapon Safety for Film Producers | Filming with guns

The cost of film insurance for a production that uses firearms & guns on set can be minimized by following protocols that make the insurance underwriter comfortable. Insurance underwriters charge more when they are uncomfortable with the perceived risk. 

Hire a good firearms wrangler and ensure they follow these protocols...

FIREARMS Protocols for a safe set and the lowest film insurance cost:

  1. Take charge of all firearms and ammunition and keep an inventory of them
  2. Know all the requirements for handling, transporting, and storing firearms, ammunition and black powder
  3. Comply with all local, provincial, and federal regulations for firearms
  4. Be familiar with the specific firearms being used and their safety requirements. Know how to load, unload, dismantle, clean and reassemble the firearms
  5. Check firearms before and after each use
  6. Clean all firearms daily after use
  7. Load and Unload all firearms (if this is not practical, supervise the handling, loading, and unloading of firearms by designated, trained assistants) as follows...
    1. Use the lightest load of blank ammunition necessary for the scene
    2. Allow any actor who will be standing near the line of fire to witness the loading of the firearms
  8. Train actors and stunt performers in the safe use of firearms
  9. Take firearms away from actors and stunt performers between takes whenever possible

A specialized film insurance broker is best able to present the risks associated with your film production to the film insurance underwriter to ensure you receive the best coverage and premium for your production. Front Row Insurance Brokers are specialized Film Insurance Brokers. Please call us if you have any questions.

The above information is  based on WorkSafe – Focus on Safety – Safe Work Practices for Film and Television Production in B.C. (2001 edition)

Topics: Film Insurance, Film insurance broker, Stunt Insurance, SPFX Insurance, film insurance premium

Film Production Companies & Pyrotechnics: Film Insurance Best Practices

Posted by David Hamilton on Dec 4, 2012 2:42:00 PM

Pyrotechnics & Film insurance

If you plan to use pyrotechnics during your film production, determine the potential hazards and conduct a risk assessment for each potential hazard to minimize your film insurance costs.

Avoid the following common pyrotechnic mistakes:

  1. Triggering the pyrotechnic effect prematurelyFilm reel projector
  2. Using more pyrotechnic material than necessary
  3. Not having fire extinguishers of a suitable type and capacity available
  4. Assigning duties to inadequately trained or inexperienced pyro technicians or assistants
  5. Entering danger areas before the special effects coordinator has inspected them and the all-clear signal has sounded

Work safely to achieve realism: When planning stunts and special effects, always look for the safest way to execute the scene. Consider using scale models and computer simulations as replacements for live stunts and pyrotechnics.

Inform the Cast and Crew:

On call sheets, include safety information related to pyrotechnic special effects and make sure to inform your film insurance broker so that they can advise the film insurance underwriter. Specify restricted or no-access areas as well as viewing locations, if they are available.

Conduct a safety talk and dry run before filming a pyrotechnic special effect. If you make changes to scheduled pyrotechnics, hold another talk to explain the changes and any revised safety precautions.

A specialized film insurance broker is best able to present the risks associated with your film production to the film insurance underwriter to ensure that you receive the best coverage and premium for your production.

Front Row Insurance Brokers are specialized Film Insurance Brokers. Please contact us if you have any questions.

RELATED:

Who can use pyrotechnics?

Topics: Film Insurance, Entertainment Insurance, Film insurance broker, entertainment package insurance, SPFX Insurance, Pyrotechnics

Call Sheets Help Reduce Film Production Insurance Costs

Posted by David Hamilton on Nov 14, 2012 5:44:00 PM

DAILY CALL SHEETS

Daily call sheet

Daily Call Sheets are a useful way to alert cast and crew to potential hazards for that day’s shooting schedule, and to inform them about which safety precautions they might need to take. Film Insurance underwriters appreciate the risk management component of a call sheet and take this protocol into consideration when assessing the film insurance risk of a film production.

The following should be included on Call Sheets:

  • Scheduled stunts
  • Any special effects that will be used
  • Scheduled use of firearms
  • Potential hazards specific to the location
  • Any required personal protective clothing/PPE and how workers can get it
  • The name, contact number, and location of the first aid attendant
  • The location of the first aid kit or facility
  • The location of the nearest hospital or emergency facility
  • Any other health and safety concerns that the cast and crew need to be aware of

Safety guidelines should be attached to call sheets, i.e., If any special effects are to be used on the set, then a safety guideline should be attached specific to the type of special effects that will used. For example, if you are shooting near a thoroughfare with lots of traffic, it may be useful to add notes about this on the call sheet. What are the weather conditions like? Will the crew require special footwear or clothing for extreme temperature? What about sunscreen or hydration requirements?

Along this line of thought, it is important to include information such as the nearest hospital, along with any other emergency numbers that are specific to your location.

Other film & TV set safety considerations:

Putting up safety posters in common areas around the set as a reminder to pay attention to hazards around the workplace and certain locations, e.g., Aerial filming.

A specialized film insurance broker is best able to present the risks associated with your film production to the film insurance underwriter to ensure you receive the best coverage and premium for your production.

Front Row Insurance Brokers are specialized Film Insurance Brokers. Please call us if you have any questions.

The above information is  based on WorkSafe – Focus on Safety – Safe Work Practices for Film and Television Production in B.C. (2001 edition)

Related:

What does a stunt coordinator do?

Topics: Film equipment insurance, Short Film Insurance, Film Insurance, Entertainment Insurance, Film insurance broker, Film Insurance claims, Commercial Production Insurance, Documentary Insurance, SPFX Insurance, film insurance premium, DICE Insurance, Film Production Companies

8 Ways To Save Money When Insuring Stunts & SPFX

Posted by David Hamilton on Apr 2, 2012 1:31:00 PM

8 WAYS TO SAVE MONEY WHEN INSURING STUNTS & SPFX

Stunts on film sets

  • Hire an experienced coordinator with a lengthy résumé. This is the most important step you can take to reduce your insurance costs.
  • Close the set to public and guests.
  • Use stunt actors, instead of your "real" actors.
  • Provide a diagram showing where the equipment and crew will be located relative to the action. Place equipment and crew a safe distances from the action.
  • Use long lenses on camera, sandbags, and Lexon shields if possible to protect the filming equipment.
  • Provide a full description of stunt & SPFX including script pages.
  • Describe safety measures on set: fire extinguishers, sand, fireman/policeman, first aid, etc.
  • Underwriters charge when they are anxious or uncomfortable when reviewing a stunt or SPFX. Give the underwriter enough information to make them comfortable and you will minimize the premium charges for your stunts & special effects.

Please contact our office for a quote on your next project!

Topics: Short Film Insurance, Film Insurance, Entertainment Insurance, Film insurance broker, Stunt Insurance, SPFX Insurance, film insurance premium

Film Production Insurance: Covering Stunts and Special effects

Posted by David Hamilton on Jan 30, 2010 1:19:00 PM

Stunts and special effects exclusion


The Film Production insurance policy contains an exclusion under the Cast Insurance coverage for a person injured when taking part in a hazardous stunt or any special effect in the declared production, without the prior consent of the insurance company.

Although these types of activities are usually reserved for stunt performers, the producer and the director should be aware of this exclusion. If actors are involved in hazardous stunts or special effects, please advise your broker well in advance so that they can make the appropriate arrangements with the insurance company.

To properly evaluate the hazards involving stunts used in filming, please provide:

  1. Synopsis of scenes being filmed.
  2. List stunts by tape, location and date.
  3. Protective measures used to protect participants and public, equipment and property.
  4. What is the experience of the Stunt Coordinator - please attach a resume.
  5. How many people are involved in each stunt scene?

Stunts on film setsAdditional information may be requested. The underwriters may cover the scene based on the strength of the information — the Stunt Coordinator resume is particularly important; otherwise, the underwriter may charge an additional premium, or apply a higher deductible or impose a sub-limit on the limit of coverage, or, they may use a combination of all three to address the risk.

If you are comfortable with a high deductible and sub-limit, you can often save the cost of an additional premium being charged.

Be sure to talk to your Entertainment Insurance broker before you film any stunts or SPFX scenes that were not originally in the script that your broker provided the insurance company.

Topics: Film Insurance, Entertainment Insurance, Film insurance broker, Stunt Insurance, SPFX Insurance