Pros and Cons of a Film Production Coordinator Career
A film production coordinator can have job duties that range from ensuring productions stay on schedule and budget to operating cameras and picking up food for cast and crew. Learn more the pros and cons of a career as a production coordinator to help you make an informed decision about your future.
|Pros of Being a Film Production Coordinator|
|Relatively high median salary ($75,000, as of March 2015 for media production managers)**|
|Opportunity to travel when filming on location*|
|Ability to work with actors and production crews on a creative project*|
|There may be a chance for exceptional coordinators to work on large, well-financed projects*|
|Cons of Being a Film Production Coordinator|
|Keen competition for jobs*|
|Many workers face long bouts of unemployment and either must seek other work assignments or hold a second job*|
|Stress may occur due to the pressure put on these workers*|
|Unusual and long work hours (working on weekends or evenings is not uncommon)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Salary.com.
Job Description and Duties
Film production coordinators' primary job function is to help ensure that productions stay on schedule and on budget. However, depending on the size of the production, they can wear many hats, performing duties as diverse as coordinating personnel, picking up food for cast and crew, locating props, providing script coverage and operating cameras. They may work with other production personnel, such assistant directors and producers. Film production coordinators also work behind the scenes, providing both creative and administrative backup. Their responsibilities could include making phone calls, updating financial accounts and records, contacting marketing departments, setting up celebrity events, dropping off production materials and editing stills or video footage.
Although the opportunity to work in the film industry can be exciting, production coordinators often face long, irregular hours, including nights and weekends. They may also be required to travel to various locations when filming, which could include travel throughout the country. Additionally, jobs are usually performed on a contract basis, lasting from one day to a few months. This creates the continual need for these professionals to line up new jobs, and, when work is slow, they may have to find jobs in other industries to support themselves.
Career Prospects and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that jobs for all producers and directors would increase 3% from 2012-2022, which is considered to be slower than average. The BLS indicates that there is strong competition in this field, because there are more applicants who seek to work in the entertainment industry than there are available jobs. Those who have strong business skills, likable personalities and a strong track record may have the best job prospects.
Although salary statistics that specifically apply to film production coordinators aren't readily available, the BLS reported that producers and directors made a median annual salary of about $69,000 in May 2014. Additionally, Salary.com indicated that media production managers, a title that can include unit production managers and film production coordinators, earned a median yearly salary of about $75,000, as of March 2015.
What Are the Requirements?
While there isn't a formal educational requirement for film production coordinators, many possess bachelor's degrees. The BLS indicates commonly selected majors include journalism, communication, acting or writing.
Along with pursuing formal education, it's essential to gain relevant work experience. It's unlikely that you'd start off as a film production coordinator when you first enter the job market. If you're new to the business, you would likely start in an entry-level position, such as production assistant or personal assistant. It's also not unusual for those who have experience in other industry positions to change their occupation and become film coordinators.
This is a career that emphasizes good communication, organizational and people skills. A passion for films and a keen sense of current industry technology are also required to find satisfaction in this career. Here are some other skills that successful film production coordinators often posses:
- Business savvy
- Personal likability and a positive attitude
- Interest in both the creative and administrative aspects of the job
- Multitasking and management abilities
- Tenacity and willingness to search for new assignments and projects
- Ability to weather unemployment periods after a completed assignment
Job Postings from Real Employers
Employers can range from well-established entertainment companies to indie producers looking for a new partner. Applicants may be required to work on a production team, edit film material, cover scripts and schedule meetings. Here are some job postings for production coordinators that were found in May 2012:
- An independent film group in New Jersey sought a production coordinator or manager who could work on a film from pre-development to postproduction. The coordinator would help the group with budgeting and potentially work with them on future projects. The applicant needed to have a keen passion for filmmaking and knowledge of excellent films from the past.
- An entertainment company in California needed a production coordinator who had at least 2 years of work experience as a coordinator in the film or television industry. The employer preferred a coordinator with a bachelor's degree and knowledge of Photoshop, After Effects, digital shooting formats and Final Cut Pro. The coordinator would help the company produce content for mobile apps, online platforms, DVDs and Blu-ray discs.
- A California entertainment marketing company looked for a production coordinator to intern for them. Job responsibilities would include providing script coverage, finding prospective clients, capturing still shots of products and editing client placement exposures. Applicants should have good communication and computer skills. The production coordinator would use Microsoft and Adobe applications, such as Office and Creative Suite.
How to Stand Out in the Field
You can stand out from other applicants by completing internships and expanding your list of work contacts. Frequently, internships in this field are unpaid, but they can still provide valuable experience and contacts. You could then try to advance your career by building a solid track history of production work, networking with other production professionals and attempting to move onto successively larger productions with bigger studios.
According to job postings, employers often seek applicants who are proficient in video editing programs. Some examples may include Avid Media Composer and Final Cut Pro. You also may want to have good knowledge of production software to edit script material, create schedules and produce call sheets. Commonly used programs to perform these tasks include Final Draft, Movie Magic Screenwriter, Movie Magic Scheduling and Movie Magic Budgeting.
If you're searching for a more artistic position, you might consider a career as an art director or set designer. Both types of professionals have the opportunity to work in the film or entertainment industry.
Art directors oversee the imagery and visual style of film productions, magazine layouts, product packages or newspapers, often specializing in a particular medium. To become an art director, you'll typically need a bachelor's degree or higher in art or a related area, as well as three or more years' experience in a creative position. The BLS predicted that jobs for these professionals would increase at a slower-than-average rate of 9% from 2010-2020. As of May 2011, they earned a median annual salary of about $81,000, which is higher than the salary of a film production coordinator.
Set designers who work in the entertainment industry create vivid settings for movies and television shows. These professionals usually have a bachelor's degree in set design or a related area, though some have formal acting training. As of May 2011, the BLS reported that set and exhibit designers earned a median annual salary of about $48,000. The BLS also predicted that these professionals would see 10% employment growth from 2010-2020. In contrast to film production coordinators, the BLS does not report strong competition for these positions.