1439315040Sameena Jabeen Ahmed in 'Catch Me Daddy' (Dir: Daniel Wolfe)

Art Department Co-ordinator

Industries:
Film
Personality type:
Organiser
Departments:
Art Department

The lowdown

  • managing communications between the art department and other departments
  • monitoring the art department budget and reporting on spending to the Production Manager
  • carrying out a wide range of administrative tasks from scheduling to organising transport to clearing rights

Is this role right for me?

To do this role, you will need to:

  • have an excellent understanding of how art departments operate
  • know how their work impacts on the other departments involved in film production
  • know how to use computer budgeting software
  • be familiar with Photoshop, which is used in preparing all location references for the Production Designer
  • have excellent organisational and office management skills
  • have good communication and people skills
  • show initiative
  • be able to work alone and as part of a team
  • be methodical
  • see the broader picture and co-ordinate effectively
  • know about relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures

What does an Art Department Co-ordinator do?

The art department is always the biggest department on any film, involving vast numbers of crew, equipment, material and most significantly, money. Art Department Co-ordinators provide day-to-day administration and support to help keep the department running efficiently. They must be highly capable and organised to cope with the work load and long hours involved.   

Their main responsibility is to co-ordinate information between the following departments: Set Decorating, Props, Production, Locations and Construction. They usually report to the Supervising Art Director and the Production Designer.

They are among the first to be employed in a film's Art Department, usually starting work with the Production Manager. They make sure the Art Department budget (e.g. labour costs, set dressing, drapes, etc.) is kept under control and properly communicated to the film's Producers via the Production Manager.

Art Department Co-ordinators perform a wide range of duties including: compiling a build, dress and strike (take down) schedule for the art department; organising transport and travel; shipping equipment when working abroad and supplying copies of all drawings and information. They also download and prepare all location photographs for the Production Designer and make a list of all sets for the Construction and Set Dressing budgets.

Art Department Co-ordinators collate all location notes with details of construction, dressing and vehicle requirements so that they can organise permissions from local councils, police, etc. They are also responsible for the implementation of Health and Safety procedures.

They oversee legal clearances for all name-brand props used as part of the set dressing.

During filming, they are the point of contact for the Standby Art Director who liaises with them about any urgent requests from the art department.

Art Department Co-ordinators usually continue to work until a week after shooting wraps (is completed), ensuring that all models have been photographed and packed away and that all drawings have been filed and/or correctly archived.

They also provide general Personal Assistant support to the Production Designer.

Art Department Co-ordinators work on a freelance basis and may be required to spend long periods working away from home.

Will I need a qualification?

There is no formal training or qualification for becoming an Art Department Co-ordinator. You will need to gain experience, contacts and good people skills by working at junior levels in Production or in the Art Department.

If you are considering taking a film production course in higher education, the following courses have been rigorously assessed by the film industry and awarded the Creative Skillset Tick for the high standard of education they provide and the degree to which they prepare you for a career in film:

Film production courses awarded the Creative Skillset Tick 

What’s the best route in?

You can expect to start your career at a junior level as a Production Assistant, Art Department Assistant or Runner.

You will need to work on a number of films to gain the experience and valuable contacts to co-ordinate the biggest department on film crews. Because of the heavy demands of the job, the progression to Art Department Co-ordinator can take several years.

You could apply to be a trainee through Trainee Finder, which gives you hands-on experience in the industry and helps you build those all-important contacts that are essential when competing for a job:

More information about Trainee Finder

Interested? Find out more...

Websites

  • British Film Designers Guild - offers membership for every grade of the Art Department, and organises social events, bi-weekly screenings and a monthly newsletter
  • BECTU - the UK's media and entertainment trade union, covering broadcasting, film, independent production, theatre and the arts, leisure and digital media
  • Cine Guilds of Great Britain - brings together major craft guilds of the British Film Industry to discuss matters affecting themselves and the industry generally
  • American Cinematographer - has regular features on film design and digital production techniques

Publications

  • Ken Adam: The Art of Production Design (Faber and Faber) by Christopher Frayling
  • Production Design and Art Direction (Focal Press) by Peter Ettedgui  
  • By Design: Interviews with Film Production Designers (Greenwood Press) by Vincent LoBrutto  
  • Film Architecture: From Metropolis to Blade Runner (Prestel Publishing Ltd). Edited by D. Neumann 2001
  • Filming the Future (Aurum Press Ltd) by Piers Bizony
  • The Invisible Art: The Legends of Movie Matt Painting (Chronicle Books) by M. Cotta Vaz and C. Barron 

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