Why Production Co-ordination is not for the faint-hearted

In late 2015, our Production Co-ordinator resigned to work on the set of ‘Black Sails’ and management asked me to temporarily take over her position, due to my previous experience as a Production Assistant, I enthusiastically agreed – I was keen to expand my horizons and get back into the exciting world of production!

While I was petrified that I would make some or other colossal mistake in my first few weeks, I decided to follow the very sound advice of a close friend, who encouragingly told me to ‘fake it ‘til I make it’. It was quite possibly the best advice that anyone could have given me because, two years on, I am still in the same position. I am confident in my job, and I absolutely LOVE what I do!

Being a Production Co-ordinator, however, is no ‘walk in the park’ – it is a high-pressure job that requires impeccable communication and organisational skills, as well as the ability to solve problems at the drop of a hat. One little mistake in the pre-production phase of a shoot can often have a ‘knock-on effect’ on the rest of the production and lead to disaster.

Being a Production Co-ordinator, however, is no ‘walk in the park’ – it is a high-pressure job

As a Production Co-ordinator, I‘m not just an ‘organiser’ who sources shoot locations, books casting sessions, talent and make-up artists. My responsibilities also include working out the cost of each project by carefully estimating the number of days needed for every phase of the production process and writing the client proposal based on that information. I’m also accountable for generating call sheets for each shoot day and researching weather patterns, to ensure that we schedule filming in favourable conditions. I’m the person who negotiates acting and usage rates with the agencies, and I’m the main point of contact for all crew, cast members and their agents.

I am the person who drives the actors and extras around when they don’t have transport, the person who tracks down and collects props and wardrobe for the cast, and the person who holds the clapperboard in front of the cameras when the crew are too busy to assist. I am the person who collects equipment for each shoot, the person who arranges lunches for the cast and crew and, at times, when the budget is exceptionally tight, I am the person who prepares the breakfasts and lunches at home, on the evening before a shoot. I am also the cleaner, who ensures that everything is left in the condition in which we found it once the shoot draws to a close, and the person who assists the Director of Photography in packing up all equipment, carrying it to the production vehicle and returning it to the gear-houses.

Once we go into the post-production phase, I am responsible for planning the schedules of our editors, to ensure that they have enough time to complete their edits before client deadlines. If we are unable to deliver to the client on time, I am also the person who must make the call to deliver the bad news.

All in all, while being a Production Co-ordinator may sound like a daunting job, it is also extremely rewarding! It will challenge you daily, but it will also give you a sense of accomplishment like you never imagined. As they say, ‘practice makes perfect’, but I have to admit that being a Virgo is a major advantage!

Author: Kerry Lassen

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