Different personalities and big egos meet in a typical production office. People stream in and out, the phones keep ringing, and everyone needs someone to tell them where to go, and when, and to organize their travels and permits. It will be your job as a production coordinator.
Organizing supplies, equipment and staff, both pre-production and during production, you will play in indispensable role in each shooting. You can learn a lot in this role, but at the end of the day it’s mostly and administrative job, and hence you won’t face some tough technical questions about film production in your interview. Let’s have a look at the questions you may actually face.
Why do you want to work as a production coordinator?
Try to talk about things you want to bring onboard. With your excellent communication and organizational skills, you will easily navigate your way through the paperwork and communication with crew and cast, which will form your daily bread in the job.
What’s more, you enjoy variety and do not find it hard to adapt to changes, and you’d love to work in the film business. Your enthusiasm will take you a long way, that’s for sure, but you also already have some experience, having this or that small role in the crew.
To sum it up, with your skills and experience, and an excellent attitude to work, you consider the position of a production coordinator a perfect choice for your new job.
Do you have any relevant working experience?
Mark my words: Anything you did before is relevant for the position of a production coordinator. Even if you just flipped burgers at McDonald’s or answered calls at a busy call center. Because you will be responsible for a variety of duties, and your ability to manage your time, and to coordinate things (something you have to do in any job) is crucial.
Try to find the connection between your former jobs and this one. Explain how the duties you took care of prepared you for your new role in production. And if this is your first job application–can be the case, ensure them that you read the job description carefully, have a good idea about the job, and see no reason why you’d not handle it, considering your skills and attitude.
In your new job, how will you ensure that production is on schedule?
This is easier to say than do, as everyone who ever worked in a production office would confirm. Anyway, the key is to show them that you have some system in your work, a certain framework that helps you stay on the top of things.
For example, you have a master document in MS Excel, with all deadlines and milestones, names of all crew members and cast. Knowing exactly who should be where and when (from the notes in your master sheet), and what you have to organize, you find it easy to stay on schedule and to organize things.
Of course delays may happen (they will), and someone may get sick, or the scene needs to be changed, or delay happens because you won’t get a permit for someone or something. You count with these things happening, and will simply address them on the go, trying to minimize the delays.
How do you ensure that the production won’t exceed the budget for a particular show or movie?
It often will exceed the budget, but again, you should show them that you will try your best to avoid it from happening. Attention to detail and proper planning is the key at this point.
Say that you will try to break down the costs of everything to the smallest detail–such as buying straws for crew when they take a drink to chill out in between shooting two scenes, or a duct tape you will buy to be ready if something starts falling apart in the scene.
Once you have calculated everything properly, you will see everything on paper. You may have to suggest some cuts, limiting some luxuries for the crew or the cast. And of course you can also monitor on the go whether the reality mirrors the plan, or the crew is spending much more than they are supposed to… If you see it happening, you will intervene immediately, to minimize the damage.
One of the crew members ignores your messages and phone calls. How will you react?
As I wrote at the beginning of this article, many big egos work in the film production business. It can easily happen that someone ignores you or does not follow your instructions. Which is a tricky situation indeed, because at the end of the day you are “just” a coordinator, and cannot really afford to terminate a contract of a photographer, for example. You do not have such a power in the team.
But they do not expect you to let it go either. Ensure the interviewers that you won’t get offended or anything similar. You will go and meet the crew member in person, asking what’s wrong. You will try to find out the reason why they aren’t responding, and then remedy it.
Only if this doesn’t work will you escalate the problem, notifying your manager about the issue, so they can talk to the crew member and take measures.
Imagine that we are about to shoot a series of scenes in a foreign country. What do you need to take care of as a production coordinator?
A lot of things to be honest… You can start summing it up, saying that it’s important to ensure that all people (crew and cast) and equipment is on the place in time. That’s your ultimate goal. Then you can describe what will you do while trying to achieve it:
- Organize work permits and visa for everyone involved.
- Booking flights and accommodation.
- Communicating the information with each crew and cast member, or sending the list to a travel captain (a position sometimes responsible for these things).
- Negotiate with couriers and shipping companies about the transport of equipment.
- Oversee the entire process from your office, and addressing any logistics problems as they arise.
Organizing a foreign shooting is not an easy task. Show them that you understand the complexity of it, but have a plan how to handle it, minimizing costs and problems that occur along the way.
Other questions you may face in your production coordinator job interview
- As the shoot draws to an end, what should you take care of as a production coordinator?
- What is your way of keeping the expenses under control, when having 20+ people in a project?
- Tell us about a time when you had to meet a tight deadline.
- What are your expectations on the production managers you will work under?
- What do you consider your greatest weakness when we talk about the job of a production coordinator?
- What are your salary expectations?
Conclusion, next steps
Interview for a job of a production coordinator belongs to tricky interviews. It is not exactly easy to say what will happen, since it depends a lot on the on the person who leads the interview with you, their background and skills.
At times you will deal with sensible questions, targeting your attitude to various situations that can happen in the job, just like I described in the article. But you can also face just some typical interview questions, and personal preferences of your interviewer (can be the production manager, but also another leading figure) will play a decisive role in the hiring process.
Hence I suggest you to prepare for both scenarios. Read the questions and my hints once again, and try to prepare a short answer for each one. But do also a good research about their place and the person who will interview you. Knowing something about them, you will find it easier to make a connection, which can be the most important thing in this interview… I hope you will succeed, and wish you good luck!
May also interest you:
- Salary negotiation tips – Production coordinators can earn $10/hour but also $20/hour. It depends on the budget, but also on your negotiation skills. Learn how to get the best possible offer.
- How to explain gaps in employment – Did you take some time off to travel and discover the world? Or did you struggle to find a job for a long time? Learn how to explain these things in an interview.
- How to overcome interview nerves – Everyone is a bit stressed before the start of their interview. But it is important to know how you can control your nerves…