Working as a production coordinator is difficult and stressful, a lot is expected of you and mistakes can be made. That being said, there are certain mistakes that should only be made once and unfortunately there are working production coordinators that continue to make these mistakes and somehow they continue to get work.
Over the years I have worked with many production coordinators and for the most part they have been great but on one job I got stuck with the worst production coordinator I have ever and probably will ever work with. This list was created almost entirely from the mistakes I witnessed over the length of my contract.
Some of the jobs on this list may not pertain to all coordinators but often a production coordinator is responsible for call sheets and paperwork that a 2nd assistant director may normally do but there are a lot of cases when a 2nd is not hired and it is up to the coordinator to do this work.
10 Mistakes Production Coordinators Make
1) Leave things to the last minute – This is something that drives me crazy in all aspects of my life, I do not like things to be left to the last minute. Production Coordinators that think they have all the time in the world and wait until an hour before things are due are not good at their job. There is no harm in getting something done early, worst case is that you have to make some changes but if you have everyone waiting on you THAT IS BAD! If my call time is 8am, I should not have to wait until 10pm the night before to know where I have to be in the morning. There is no reason for this and it is completely unfair to the crew.
2) Don’t Delegate/Over Delegate – I have run into this problem more often than not. I am either working for someone who tries to do everything on their own or I am working for someone who wants me to do all of their work. It is rare that I have found a nice balance. Everyone should be doing their job and in the case of the production coordinator, it is good to delegate tasks but not to the point where you are doing nothing and everyone else is doing your job for you. On the other end of that is a production coordinator that doesn’t trust the team and tries to do everything alone. It is not often that someone can get away with this and perform all of their duties at the best of their ability. Be sure to use the people that are staffed to you but don’t take advantage.
3) Don’t Know their role - Don’t apply for a job if you don’t know how to do it! It is not fair to people that do know how and need the work and it is also not fair to the crew. If you insist on taking a job that you have never done before, please do some research before you start. There are few things worse than working for someone who has no idea what they are doing and no idea what they are responsible for. You can’t depend on others to get you through the job, you have to be prepared from the moment you step into a role.
4) Don’t know their place - As the production coordinator you are not at the top of the production hierarchy and you should not act like you are. You have a boss, the production manager, and you work for the director and almost everyone else on the crew. Just because you are in charge of the production assistants doesn’t mean that you are in charge of everyone. Remember who you work for and don’t let your ego get in the way of you doing your job.
5) Hoard Information - It is amazing the way that some production coordinators think that hoarding information gives them power. Mostly it makes people hate you and think that you are not very good at what you do. If someone asks to see the schedule, let them see it! As far as I am concerned the crew has a right to know when they are working, they should know more than a day or two ahead of time as well. The more notice you can give people the better. Remember that your crew has a life outside of work, even if you don’t. Knowledge is power, sure, but it is much more powerful to be the person the crew can trust to come to for information and not be given a hard time about it.
6) Think they know best - I don’t think it is ever wise to walk into a job and think that there is nothing for you to learn, as far as I am concerned there is always something new to learn. You will be better at your job if you keep an open mind and allow yourself to adapt to good changes. Having a stubborn production coordinator that thinks they know better than everyone else on the crew, even when they are new to the job and are working with seasoned professionals, is a huge pain in the ass! You do not know best, never act like you do because people won’t like you. Be open to suggestions, this doesn’t mean you always have to take the advice or use the idea but at least be open to it.
7) Waste time on useless things - It is amazing how many times I have walked into the production office and seen the production coordinator doing something stupid like painting their nails or surfing the internet when I know that the call sheet hasn’t gone out yet and that their is real work that needs to be done. If you are going to do senseless things like that then try to be a little more discreet about it.
8) Create too many “make work” projects” - If you can’t think of anything for your production assistants to work on or you yourself don’t have anything to do please do not come up with random things that don’t actually need to be done. Make work projects are a waste of time and frustrating, there is usually always something better that could be getting done. I cannot tell you how many times I made the same list on one production in 20 different variations because the production coordinator was worried I didn’t have enough to do. They were wrong and the make work projects just made me angry and put me behind on more important things.
9) Disrespect the crew - One thing I like to remember is that you need the crew more than they need you, so on that note the less you piss them off the better it is. Try not to create a divide between the people on set and the people in the office, it does not make for a pleasant work experience. Respect the crew, they usually know what they are doing and if they ask for something or tell you they need something, try to accommodate them or at least make your best effort. Don’t shut people down before you have even attempted to help them. Work will not be fun for you if no one likes you.
10) Unwilling to lend a hand - This one is more of a personal thing and in some cases it is very fair for the production coordinator to only do the job they were hired to do but for me you should be willing to lend a hand any time. I do not like to live inside of the box that is my job title, granted I do not want to step on any toes but I like to pitch in whenever I can. Don’t be afraid to lift something or move something out of the way, if no one is around to do a menial task then just do it yourself. you don’t have to help set up lights or anything crazy but don’t stand by and watch as someone struggles with something and you are doing nothing. People appreciate the little things and they will return the favor down the road.
These are my top ten pet peeves when it comes to production coordinators, I would be happy to know what yours might be. Leave a comment below and share your worst production coordinator stories.