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What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Yesterday, the writers’ assistant asked me if I wanted to be a production coordinator.

The question puzzled me. Who actually wants to be a coordinator? I can’t imagine anyone stepping off the bus in L.A., and thinking to themselves, “I can’t wait to coordinate some productions!”

I know some people roll off the turnip truck wanting to be actors, and, thanks to the cult of the auteur, others want to be directors. I get those (sorta).

People’s interests vary, so I can even understand someone wanting to be a DP, a costume designer, or any of the creative department heads. (On a side note, I am a little confused as to why they would want to work in movies, rather than in their own unique field. Why not just become a photographer or a clothing designer?)

Personally, I always knew I wanted to be some kind of writer. It took me a while to figure out I wanted to be a screenwriter, but once I did, I’ve focussed on nothing else.

But I really can’t imagine someone devoting themselves to becoming, say, a UPM or an AD. It doesn’t seem like a dream. It strikes me more as something you fall into, when you realize you’re organized, and not much good in any other department.

Do people really want to be coordinators, or do they just become them?

Maybe I’m just prejudiced. I don’t know.

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13 Responses

  1. I want to be a costume designer because I find telling stories of characters through fabric, textiles, colors, etc more ‘studios’ I guess you could say then designing clothing for ordinary people on the street. I really have to analyze the psychology, history, and emotions of the character and the time, place or world they lived in to create this art. Costumes tell a part of the story in a way the script can’t, even if it is written excellently. Plus, I get along better with film industry people more than those in the fashion world. Plus, you may not know this as most not in fashion don’t…but fashion design jobs are office/computer/desk jobs these days with technology and everything being made overseas. I want to work on a studio/in set on films thank you very much. It allows me to be more passionate 🙂 I have a dual fashion/textile design undergraduate degree from two different schools and would like a Costume Design MFA someday. I just graduated and have done both fashion and film/theater costume internships but I know what I enjoy more, though fashion week itself IS certainly exciting. I found your blog a bit late, but enjoy it! I have done some additional costume PA work for a CBS show but I’m looking for a full time job on a film or series. It is tough only knowing a handful of people! You’re lucky you have the film school connections, as the work posted online is mostly unpaid :-/

  2. Granted, I started reading this blog from the beginning (so I’m many years late on this post!) but I want to be a UPM! That’s shooting for the moon for me, glad to know I can just “fall into it.”

  3. BAHAHAHA!!! linking actors to NPD.
    it’s true, to want to be an actor, you have to be at least slightly narcissistic. every one’s a little narcisstisic – it’s part of being human and the whole “self-preservation” thing- but some of us were just blessed with a little extra narcissism…!

  4. Dawn,

    Don’t worry about it. A few short years from now, when Anonymous is a hugely successful writer, the A.D. will send him yesterday’s call sheet; the Location Manager will send him next Tuesday’s directions to set; and the Accountant will get all kinds of creative with his check.

    (I kid)

  5. Hi, I’ve recently found your blog and thought it was great fun to read. Until this entry! I’m a tad insulted… so I wanted to respond.
    I do think most people who end up UPMing or ADing do fall into it – but is that not the case of most jobs in the film industry? Do people aspire to be lifelong key grips?
    I feel like there are the more “glamorous” jobs in the industry – writing, directing, writing AND directing, producing, acting, etc. etc. – but in truth not manly people are gonna get to those places. Instead they’ll fall into something they’re good at and enjoy to whatever extent.
    For me, I actually am looking forward to a career as a UPM. I love film and television, and I want to be involved in the making of them. As a film student, I’ve tried out various positions. I’ve made my own films. Some of them have sucked, some of them I’ve been pretty proud of. But in no way would I want to be a writer or a director. Instead, I’d rather use things I know I’m good at – being on top of things, organized, delegating and supervising – to eventually become a UPM.
    And you know what? I may find a position along the way that I enjoy and fall into doing that instead. And I’m fine with that!

    Keep writing, this is a great blog 🙂

  6. I went to college to study film, but they never acknowledged the existence of anyone other than Directors and D.P.’s. I was working in an equipment rental house by Sophomore year, so I knew I had no interest in Grip of Electric (hot, dirty work with dirty, heavy equipment.)

    My first Locations gig was when someone doing a music video (Hot, Hot, Hot by Buster Poindexter) called me to manage the locations for it. I have no idea where they got my name and I had zero experience at the time, but they were willing to pay me what I thought was an astronomical sum back then. I figured out how to do it, enjoyed it and then just kept pursuing that end of things…so yeah, I fell into it by accident. (But I’ve always liked organizing things.)

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