Special Effects Coordinator

Design and execute physical special effects for films and TV.
picture of Special Effects Coordinator

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$45,000 – $112,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Special Effects Coordinators do?

Putting a bomb in a car, blowing up a building, or starting an earthquake — no matter how you do it, special effects are a surefire way to get the audience’s attention. Special Effects Coordinators work on a movie or television set, creating the explosions, natural disasters, or general destruction that the Director wants.

Special effects can be defined as pretty much anything in a movie that goes “Boom!” — be it a gas explosion or a car crash. They’re also weather effects, which are stuff like fog in a field or snow on trees. It all sounds exciting, but when you’re the Special Effects Coordinator, your job starts with a little bit less flair.

You begin each project by meeting with the Art Director and Production Designer. In this meeting, you go through the script scene by scene to understand what type of explosion is needed and how it will be created. You then work with the Cinematographer to frame the shots so you can arrange your equipment in such a way that the Cameraman can still shoot safely.

Once logistics are figured out, it’s time to get to work. You plan your crew’s budget and schedule the shifts for each of your workers. On bigger productions, you work closely with a Special Effects Foreman, who serves as your right hand by directing the crew when you’re busy and organizing all necessary equipment.

During filming, it’s the job of the Special Effects Coordinator to make sure things go smoothly and safely. You’re in charge of getting all necessary permits and working with any required officials, like Fire Marshals. To keep things safe, you operate much of the equipment yourself, and take as long as necessary to ensure that the shot happens without injuring anyone.

Should I be a Special Effects Coordinator?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Ready for a Challenge: You jump into new projects with initiative and drive.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Flexible: You're open to change and think variety is the spice of life.

  • How to Become a
    Special Effects Coordinator

    Special Effects Coordinators often have a Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:xpr9aa&chl=no+college+%2816%25%29|certificate+%2829%25%29|associate%27s+%2812%25%29|bachelor%27s+%2843%25%29||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,16,43
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