Random Acts of Coaching

Coaching is an ideal strategy for busy film shoots. Film Crew Leaders need to teach, train, coach, support and direct to deliver the services of their Department for successful film projects.

Coaching is a highly successful strategy to engage, encourage & support Crew Members to be successful.

The difference between Coaching and Training. … Just to put us all on the same page, let’s make a distinction between coaching and training right up front. Essentially, training is about transferring knowledge, while coaching is about enhancing knowledge (or skills)-development, in other words.

Situation Snapshot

1 – Crewmembers have differing levels of knowledge and skill,

  • New comers may need more direction and teaching, and less coaching to start with.
  • Experienced Crew have more knowledge, so coaching can guide them to sharpen their skills.

2 – Are they open to Coaching? What steps to take to encourage them?

We need to engage and contract with Crew Members for feedback and coaching. Experienced people appreciate recognition of their existing knowledge and skills. Newcomers want to learn. If we recognize that and take a coaching approach when needed, it will be received better.

3 – Facts matter.

Objective facts are better received and have a higher impact than opinions. If you show or suggest a better technique, it helps. A trusted opinion is still welcome, especially if it sounds like a good idea.

4 – We don’t remember all that well. Repetition is important.

Reinforcement of your message increases the likelihood of success. (Especially if you are correcting long standing practices). Also, timeliness has a big impact, so you can effectively “coach on the fly” in a brief chat.

Since the best Leaders coach on a frequent, ongoing basis, coaching is one way to address the fact that even the best of us will not always remember valuable information. Helpful reminders have value.

“A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.”
John Wooden

What’s the difference between Training and Coaching?

These terms get tossed around carelessly, so it’s good to distinguish between them. It helps us decide when we should actually Teach, vs Coach.

Training Coaching
New Crew who need to learn

Anyone on a new task

On technical tasks, or, where a procedure, process or step is not clear

Crew with existing knowledge to further sharpen

Where they need help, but not teaching*

Crew who could use encouragement

If they might already know the answer-Ask questions so they may find their way.


“Good leaders give the time to help others learn what they need to be successful in their jobs.” – Dr. Keith Webb

When To Coach-Coaching is about drawing out information and skill from the other person. If they’ve been taught how to do a task, then there is information – the previous instruction, their experience trying the task, etc. – to draw on. Don’t jump back into teaching mode. Ask questions instead, such as,

  • What part is unclear? What have you tried so far?
  • What are you doing that is working? Not working?

Asking these questions shows respect for the other person. It says, “I think you’re a capable person even though you’re still learning this task.” It also enables you to pin-point where the difficulty lies. Missing information? Missing skill? The problem may not be where we think it is.

“A good Coach asks great questions to help you remove the obstacles in your mind and to get you back on track in life” ― Farshad Asl

“The Five C’s of Coaching”

Clarity Communication Collaboration Commitment Culture


1- Clarity-The clearer expectations are, the more likely Crew Members will achieve them.

  • Newcomers are less clear on details, so, as stated earlier, need more teaching than coaching.
  • Experienced Crew may have a pretty good idea, however, they are prime candidates for a coaching approach to sharpen existing capabilities.
  • Very experienced Crew should have an excellent idea of requirements & hopefully need only fine tuning, if any coaching at all. Note-Where you trust their capabilities, they could coach & support Newcomers.

Note-Each film project differs. Clarify with all Crew Members the basics, plus any special circumstances.
2- Communication-Think-Plan-Act

Think-As we know, there are many, many facets of communication-interpersonal, organizational, plans & strategies, formal & informal, etc. As Leaders, we need to think through a plan to succeed.

Plan-Having a plan-look ahead at,

  • the message you want your Crew to understand
  • the pace, time limits & challenges to overcome to get your message out to your Crew
  • your personal style-what works for you and doesn’t

Act-Putting your plan into action

  • clearly setting the tone for your Department
  • contracting with each of them on what each of you need
  • contracting with them as to when you are, and are not available. When is the best time to talk.

3- Collaboration-Collaboration, is a more active word than its cousin, Teamwork. Collaboration is a partnership approach that fits Coaching perfectly, as,

  • It assumes that both parties have expertise and a contribution to make
  • It recognizes the capabilities of the Crew Member
  • It’s not a telling or directing approach*, but more of an opportunity to blend ideas
  • It’s flexible and well suited to brief, informal chats.

*there’s nothing wrong with telling and directing at the right time. E.g. You may be less collaborational with newer Crew who don’t yet know the job, or, if something needs to happen “right now, this way!”
4- Commitment-Leaders build trust and engagement when they demonstrate commitment,

  • To doing a job well
  • To setting a high standard
  • To contributing to the success of other Departments and the overall Project
  • To “doing the right thing”
  • To coaching and supporting Crew Members

Commitment from Crew Members follows, allowing you to focus on tasks at hand, and not worry about the effort level of your Team.

5-“Culture”-You can compare the tone or environment of your previous jobs or projects. Take the best practices and target what you want for your operation. High competence & high standards lower stress. High stress increases confusion, inefficiencies, errors, accidents and wasted time.

High Standards, High commitment, Positive Supportive, Coaching Atmosphere Lack of Commitment, Clarity and Support, plus lax standards

Ideas-What feedback would you get from a previous Crew Member you have worked with before? Who was your best Coach? What did they do that helped you?

Short Shots

  • Decide when to teach and when to coach (e.g. when you feel they may be able to figure it out)
  • Be brief. “Coach on the fly” (it’s not a lengthy teaching or counselling session.)
  • Be positive. Provide suggestions, options and advice on how to do even better.
  • Reinforce your message. It may take them a couple of tries.
  • Be open. They may have a good reason why they did it a certain way.