Production Coordinators: The Glue That Holds a Production Together

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Just the other day I was having a conversation with a Show Runner friend of mine. The conversation was eye opening for me. He works on a lot of shows that go on the road and was talking to me about how hard it was to find good, steady Production Coordinators. This got me thinking about why this is the case. I have heard this before and as someone who has been a Production Coordinator and has hired Production Coordinators before I too have experienced this.

Some reasons I have come up with as to why it can be hard to find a great Production Coordinator:

  • Being a Production Coordinator can sometimes feel like you are the glue holding the whole entire production together. A lot of responsibility falls on your plate, and you have to know what is going on with every department. The ability to pay attention to so much detail and remain on top of it all takes a certain type of person.
  • Many people use being a Production Coordinator as a stepping stone to move up to Production Managing, Line Producing and Producing. When the opportunity comes along they move up. So the turn over rate can be somewhat high.
  • Production Coordinating is not the most glamorous work, and while you keep track of all the details of every department, it can be easy to see the lure of other departments in the film/television world. The long hours can also play into this.
  • The pay rate is negotiable. At the time of writing this, even the Union POC’s (IATSE 871) do not have negotiated hourly rates or even minimum weekly rates. It can be hard to say no to a wage if you need the job.
  • You will put in a lot of hours.

Okay, so now that I have scared you from ever wanting to be a Production Coordinator, let me share with you some reasons that being a Production Coordinator can be great:

  • You will learn a lot. You get to see how each department works, along with being a part of the production from beginning to end. This will help you learn the ins and outs of productions and figure out what you ultimately want to do.
  • You get to be a part of everything! You may not be making the creative decisions, but you are in the know of everything going on. That is pretty cool.
  • You will find out how strong you are. You will make a mistake, and it will probably be a big one. You are involved in a lot of important details… so yes this part will suck… but later on it will make you stronger and smarter and more efficient, trust me.
  • As a Production Coordinator you get to work with some very high ranking, inspiring individuals.
  • You will make a lot of connections… hopefully from the high ranking inspiring individuals I mentioned above.
  • Finding a great Production Coordinator can be difficult, if you are a great Production Coordinator you will be in demand, and will work a lot and possibly be able to use this to help raise your pay-rate.

Here are some of my tips if you are trying to make the leap up to Production Coordinator and how you can succeed at it:

  • Pay attention to the details. If you are applying for a POC position make sure you read the job description requirements carefully. If you are reading a job posting that asks for references, make sure you actually include references. I have gotten many responses in the past that didn’t include references or something else I requested to have sent with a resume. Production Coordinators have to be detail oriented and its important to show you have this skill set from the get go.
  • If you are a Production Assistant or a Production Secretary, make sure you let your Production Coordinator know you have an interest in moving up the Production Management team, and show them that you can. Ask if you can have more responsibilities, this will show that you are serious.
  • Be friendly, but work hard.
  • Be on time. Production Coordinators do not need to deal with their staff being late.

The industry needs more strong Production Office staff. If you have ever considered it, I suggest you try it. You will learn a lot about productions and yourself, and who knows… maybe you will find your path in life.

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Ashleigh Nichols

About Ashleigh Nichols

Ashleigh Nichols resides in Los Angeles with her husband, Eddie, and their Chihuahua mix, Nova. Together they work on their own projects as a wife-husband directing/producing/writing team. Through Owlet Pictures, they created the web series Coffee Shop Squatters, and the award winning short film Summer of the Zombies. Ashleigh is also working on a dramatic feature and creating a new web series, set to shoot later this year. While not working on her own projects, Ashleigh is currently an in house Production Manager at Ampersand Media. Before going in house she Production Managed several shows/Pilots for Comedy Central, HBO Go and Vh1, some of these include: The Jeselnik Offensive, The Burn, The Ben Show, Brody Stevens: Enjoy It! and Parental Discretion S2. Ashleigh is also honored to have Co-Produced the indie film The Historian, currently touring on the festival circuit.