Reel Opportunities

Set Designer

What does a Set Designer do?

Set Designers create the way a film or TV show looks by designing the sets. Films can be set in any number of places: a Victorian orphanage, a Caribbean cruise ship, or another planet, for example. They work with all the other visual departments, including costume, lighting, visual and special effects, and graphic design to build the perfect set without needing to rely on shooting on location.

Set Designers start with the script. Collaborating with the Production Designer, they draw sketches and develop blueprints. Then they work with other art department members to agree on a budget. They prioritise the work schedule and allocate the management of finances to team members performing different tasks. They are usually freelancers.

What's a Set Designer good at?
  • Art

    Draw by hand to scale, do technical drawings and computer-aided design

  • Design

    Understand colour theory, know the history of architecture and interior design

  • Knowledge of photography

    Understand cameras, lenses and lighting and their effect on a film’s look and mood

  • Organization

    Manage budgets, draw up schedules, prioritize and meet deadlines

  • Communication

    Share the vision with a wide number of different people and keep a team working together well

Who does a Set Designer work with?

Set Designers work directly with and report to the Production Designer or the Art Director. On a day-to-day basis they work with the art department such as Carpenters and Painters, and when filming they work with crews.

How do I become a Set Designer?

Most Set Designers have worked in the art department for many years. Aim to start as a Production Assistant and work your way up through the ranks outlined above. Here are some more tips:

Get a degree: Most set designers have got degrees in art, architecture, theatre, theatre design, interior design or 3D design.

Get an internship: An internship is a job with training, so it’s a great opportunity to earn as you learn. However, it can be challenging to find jobs as an internship within production companies. It might be worth looking for a job as an intern in an industry that uses similar skills, such as being an Architectural Assistant. This will help you develop your craft and create a body of work for a portfolio that you can use to find your way into film and TV shows at a later point.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Professional Organizations Associated With This Role

Click on your region to find out which professional organizations in your area are associated with this career and watch videos to learn more about them.

This position is represented by the following unions/guilds in your selected region.

Sorry, we couldn’t find a professional organization associated with this role in the region you selected.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Art Department Assistant

What does an Art Department Assistant do?

Art Department Assistants help the whole art department, but particularly the Art Director. In a studio, they help dress the set and manage the props, ensuring they are in working order and available when needed.

They also help with styling when the filming is on location, where there might be a very large area needing styling and props. If an Art Department Assistant is experienced, they might be the only person from the art department on location.

Otherwise, much of an assistant’s work is in the preparation before filming. This involves helping with the sourcing and purchasing of materials, as well as the building, painting, and finishing of props. They sometimes design and make props themselves.

Generally, Art Department Assistants are expected to pitch ideas and assist in any way that’s required, from helping transport items and making coffee to filling the gaps of any work that needs doing. On smaller budget studio shows, they might do the work of a Production Assistant alongside their other responsibilities.

What's an Art Department Assistant good at?
  • Art

    Draw conceptually (technical and freehand), work with specialist design software, build props and dress sets

  • Attention to detail

    Have thorough research skills, source correct materials and props, be organized and tidy

  • Knowledge of construction and design

    Research and awareness of the latest developments in production design

  • Knowledge of production

    Understand production techniques, studio environments, studio capabilities, and the challenges of working on location

  • Hard work

    Be able to multitask and meet deadlines

Who does an Art Department Assistant work with?

Art Department Assistants work directly with Art Directors and manage Production Assistants, but they will also work with everyone and anyone in the department, including Production Designers and Buyers.

How do I become an Art Department Assistant?

Build up your skills as an artist. Then try to find work in an entry-level role such as an art department Production Assistant, and work your way up.

Develop a wide range of art skills: Learn how to paint, do 3D modeling and graphic art. The more you can do at this stage, the more chance you have of being useful in the art department later on.

Learn to drive: If possible, get access to a car. This makes you more versatile and means you can help more.

Build a portfolio: This is essential for impressing collaborators and people in the film industry.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Professional Organizations Associated With This Role

Click on your region to find out which professional organizations in your area are associated with this career and watch videos to learn more about them.

This position is represented by the following unions/guilds in your selected region.

Sorry, we couldn’t find a professional organization associated with this role in the region you selected.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Prop Master

Also known as: Property Master, Prop Person

What does a Prop Master do?

A prop is any moveable item that can be seen on a film. It could be a hat, gun, cushion, wine glass, lightsaber, carpet, kitchen unit, tree or aircraft. Prop Masters run the property department which makes, stores and transports the props as well as preps the props for each day’s shoot.

Prop Masters usually start work a few weeks before shooting begins. They work with Production Designer, Set Decorators and Art Director to work out what props are needed. They do research and then draw up properties lists, deciding which are to be hired and which are to be made. They create a ‘set and strike’ schedule to share with location and construction departments.

Where props are to be made, Prop Masters recruit the Carpenters and prop makers and manage the schedule for production. Where they are hired, they work with the Production Buyers to source them.

When shooting is finished, they return all hired props and organize the sale or safe disposal of everything else.

What's a Prop Master good at?
  • Understanding film

    Pick up the Director’s vision, break a script down for props requirements take account of the need for continuity

  • Historical knowledge

    Research different eras, dress a set authentically

  • Craftsmanship

    Work with a wide variety of materials, craft and repair items

  • Moving items

    Handle large, heavy but fragile items

  • Communication

    Work closely with the Production Designer and other departments, share the vision with the props team

  • Organization

    Manage staff, budgets, complex schedules, transport and storage

Who does a Prop Master work with?

Prop Masters report to Production Designer and Set Decorators as part of the art department. They work closely with the Director, Art Director, Production Buyers, Location Manager and Construction Manager. They also might work with the Script Supervisor to maintain set continuity (keeping track of whether a glass is full or empty, where a particular item is placed at the start or end of a take, how objects move, and so on).

How do I become a Prop Master?

This is a senior level role, so college-level technical education in art and design, along with several years of experience in the art department, are required. Apprenticeships or on the job training are also possible. This position requires the ability to work well with your hands and construct materials to form props when needed, as well as organizational skills and an interest in the historical accuracy of items and scenes on a film set.

Here are some more tips:

Learn how to drive a van or a truck: Being a Prop Master can often involve moving heavy props and travelling around different locations. Learning to drive is essential for this, as is learning how to move large, heavy but fragile items safely.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Professional Organizations Associated With This Role

Click on your region to find out which professional organizations in your area are associated with this career and watch videos to learn more about them.

This position is represented by the following unions/guilds in your selected region.

Sorry, we couldn’t find a professional organization associated with this role in the region you selected.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Set Decorator

Also known as: Set Dec, Set Dresser, Stylist (commercials)

What does a Set Decorator do?

Set Decorators are storytellers. They create the background of the action, explaining the context, adding mood and visual interest as the drama unfolds. While Prop Masters deal with the placing of objects an actor holds, Set Decorators are concerned with the walls, floors, vehicles and furniture.

Before filming begins, Set Decorators work with the Director, Art Director, Props Master and Production Buyers to go through the script and work out what sets are needed. They make a list and a plan for the Props Master to follow. Then they buy or hire the items and get in Props Makers to make furniture.

The day before shooting, Set Decorators arrive early to begin dressing the set. After the Director and Director of Photography have checked it, the Set Decorators move on to the next scene. Once a scene has been shot, they are responsible for striking (taking apart) each set.

What's a Set Decorator good at?
  • Understanding film

    Be able to pick up the director’s vision, know how a background can tell a story

  • Style

    Have a good eye for decoration, a sense of colour and form, precise attention to detail

  • Historical knowledge

    Research different eras and dress a set authentically

  • Communication

    Work closely with the production designer and other departments, share the vision with the team

  • Organisation

    Break down a script for set requirements, manage staff, budgets, complex schedules and transport

Who does a Set Decorator work with?

In larger productions, Set Decorators will have a team made up of Assistant Set Decorators, Buyers, Set Dressers, painters, drapers, cabinet makers, sculptors and so on. They report to the Production Designer and work closely with the Art Director and Props Master.

How do I become a Set Decorator?

There is no standard career path to be a Set Decorator. Often, they will have experience working as a Production Buyer or an Assistant Set Decorator. They have usually worked in the art department for several years or in set design in the theatre.

Here are some tips:

Educational Requirements: If you want to go to university, courses in art and design, architecture, photography, theatre, graphic design or graphic communication are useful.

Get experience: Volunteer to do set decorating for student videos. Or decorate stage sets in amateur theatre productions.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Professional Organizations Associated With This Role

Click on your region to find out which professional organizations in your area are associated with this career and watch videos to learn more about them.

This position is represented by the following unions/guilds in your selected region.

Sorry, we couldn’t find a professional organization associated with this role in the region you selected.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Art Director

What is an Art Director?
What does an Art Director do?

The role of an Art Director varies slightly depending on the kind of production being produced. Art Director is a title that appears in many industries, including film, theatre, advertising/marketing, fashion, and more. The Art Director makes decisions about visual elements.

Art Directors start by examining the script and working with the Director to understand the vision for the film or TV show. They then create their designs and determine the tone, mood and colour palettes.

In a studio show, Art Directors are responsible for turning the creative vision of the Production Designer into reality by drawing plans and visuals and making models. They organize the art department and oversee the construction of the set. They are responsible for the way the set is dressed and the inclusion of any props. They remain on set throughout the production to ensure the set is maintained and dressed appropriately to accommodate the varied content.

On shows where there isn’t a set, but where the content is filmed at various locations, they work with the Producer and Director. They create ‘mini-sets,’ managing the dressing and styling of an area (indoors or outdoors) in which to film. Often, they design these props themselves and oversee their build.

While the Production Designer is the creative mind behind the overall look of a production, the Art Director is the hands that makes that vision come to life. Art Directors are the metaphorical “architects” of the art department. If there is not a Production Designer on a production, Art Directors ensure that what they are doing meets health and safety guidelines as well as the needs of the Producer and Director, and is within budget.

In animation, Art Directors are responsible for the visual style of the animation. They decide how the characters, props, and environments are going to look and provide a basis for the rest of the art department to work from.

This is a job that involves a lot of communicating with people and needs strong management skills. Art Directors are responsible for ensuring all artwork is of high quality and in keeping with the Director’s vision. They are also responsible for making sure everyone in the art department stays on budget and on schedule.

What's an Art Director good at?
  • Creativity

    Visualize what a production requires, the look of a set or location, imagine how it will accommodate the production brief and department requirements. Have the artistic skill and imagination to produce original and high-quality designs

  • Leadership

    Have strong management skills to lead a department, be able to communicate visual ideas, and be able to work as part of a team

  • Art

    Be able to draw conceptually and technically, work with specialist design software, build props and small sets, have knowledge of art history

  • Knowledge of construction

    Source appropriate materials and props, be aware of the latest developments in production design

  • Knowledge of production

    Understand production techniques, studio environments, studio capabilities and the challenges of working on location. In animation, be able to understand what is going to be achievable further down the line on an animation production by the animation and post-production teams

  • Leadership

    Be able to share their vision with a wide number of different people, manage budgets and people, draw up schedules, prioritise and meet deadlines

  • Communication

    Understand what the director wants, be able to explain ideas, give constructive feedback, have good presentation skills

Who does an Art Director work with?

Art Directors project-manage work within an art department. They oversee construction teams, Production Buyers, Art Department Assistants, Carpenters, Greensmans, Painters, Scenic, Set Dec and Production Assistants. Art Directors work closely with Production Designers, particularly on studio shows, and on-location work with Producer and Directors and their teams of Associate Producers, Researchers and Production Designers. They also collaborate with camera, sound and lighting operators to ensure their work complements theirs and doesn’t create technical issues, such as with colour, lighting or the creation of unnecessary sound problems. They also work closely with Production Managers in planning and budgeting.

In animation, Art Directors work closely with the Director and as well as the artists in their teams, including Background Designers and Modellers.

How do I become an Art Director?

Art Directors typically need a bachelor’s degree in an area relating to visual art or design, preferably as they relate to film. Courses in theatre, architecture, digital design, fine art, film history, and interior design are all relevant to study.If you’re going the film school route, courses in production design are especially useful.

On-set experience is also key, as well as organizational and administrative skills. Art Director is a senior position, so you usually need some experience before you can progress to this role. A good route would be through starting in a junior position in the art department, such as a Set Decorator. You’ll also need to develop strong management skills. To be an Art Director in the animation realm, you will also need a good understanding of how an animation project works.

Here are some other tips:

Develop a wide range of art skills: Learn how to paint, do 3D modelling and graphic art. The more you can do at this stage, the more chance you have of being useful in the art department later on.

Learn to drive: If possible, get access to a car. This makes you more versatile and means you can help more.

Build a portfolio: Create work that you can show off to employers. As an Art Director, you will be hired based on your personal style and skill, so you need to have a strong portfolio. This could be made up of your own independent artwork or work you’ve done for collaborative projects. This is essential for impressing collaborators and people in the film industry.

Look outside the industry: Art Directors are needed in many industries outside of film and animation, including advertising, theatre, print magazines and product design. Getting experience working in the art department of a company in one of these fields would be a good way to gain relevant experience which you can translate into film.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Professional Organizations Associated With This Role

Click on your region to find out which professional organizations in your area are associated with this career and watch videos to learn more about them.

This position is represented by the following unions/guilds in your selected region.

Sorry, we couldn’t find a professional organization associated with this role in the region you selected.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Construction Manager

What does a Construction Manager do?

Construction Managers look after the building of sets in the studio. They make sure the sets look realistic or look the way the production desires. They interpret the drawings of the Production Designer, Art Directors, and Set Designers and work out how to build them in ways that are safe and environmentally friendly.

Then they hire the workforce, the Carpenters, Painters, Riggers, and Plasterers, and ensure everyone knows what needs to be done and by when. They are responsible for getting the necessary materials and tools on-site. They are also responsible for the safety of the crew. Construction Managers are responsible for dismantling (or “striking”) the sets, and ensuring all the materials are recycled as much as possible, or placed into storage for future productions.

What's a Construction Manager good at?
  • Construction

    Know all aspects of building work

  • Reading drawings

    Interpret drawings to plan size and scale, understand the designer’s vision, work out what this means in terms of building requirements

  • Organization

    Manage a budget, work to a schedule, recruit hundreds of constructors within a tight timeframe

  • Communication

    Be able to liaise between the artists and the construction workers, get a team to work well together

  • Staying safe

    Ensure all health and safety measures are in place

Who does a Construction Manager work with?

Charge Artist
Charge Artists or Lead Scenic Artists are responsible for all the work carried out by the painting team.

Scenic Artist
Scenic Artists may be asked to paint cloud or city backdrops, murals or other on-set paintings. They are skilled painters capable of intricate detailing and painting techniques such as marbling, wood graining and ageing. They may create complex prop pieces. They are responsible for scheduling their own work and buying necessary supplies.

Set Painter
Painters may be responsible for a range of artistic effects, from painting cars with a metallic finish, using a spray gun to cover a huge background surface, applying fine specialist finishes such as replica marbling and graining effects to sets, painting pipes to make them look old and rusty, and hanging large wall coverings. They usually supply their own tools and specialised brushes.

Set Carpenter
Carpenters produce a variety of structures, from on-screen props like windows and furniture to replica spacecraft or medieval ships. They also do a great deal of off-screen building to create support structures for the crew. This includes all the wooden structures required by film production, from doors and windows to the raised platforms that may be required by the crew.

Plasterer
Plasterers’ work involves the traditional job of applying wet finishes to walls, ceilings and floors. It also involves fibrous plastering, making moulds and model casts from solid plaster or fibreglass in workshops.

Rigger
Rigging is the fastening or securing of items at height in a safe way. Head Riggers are responsible for the work of the entire rigging department.

Model Maker
Model Makers are responsible for building models and miniatures. They could work with clay, plaster, plastic or metal and a range of techniques. They include polystyrene carvers and sculptors who make lightweight and large sculptures, trees, rocks and other oversized complex items. They may use freehand drawings skills or computer-aided design (CAD) to create designs.

How do I become a Construction Manager?

Construction Managers have years of experience in film and TV drama production. Typically, they start off in one of the trades, usually carpentry, and work their way up.

Get an apprenticeship: An apprenticeship is a job with training, so it’s a great opportunity to learn as you earn. However, it might be worth looking for a job as an apprentice in an industry that uses similar skills, such as being a furniture maker or a painter and decorator outside of film and TV. This could help you develop your craft and give you the skills you need to get into film and TV drama at a later point.

Get to know people in the industry: Once you are qualified and have a couple of years’ experience in your chosen trade, you will be handy for constructing film sets. Try to get to know people in the industry and ask if they need your skills.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Professional Organizations Associated With This Role

Click on your region to find out which professional organizations in your area are associated with this career and watch videos to learn more about them.

This position is represented by the following unions/guilds in your selected region.

Sorry, we couldn’t find a professional organization associated with this role in the region you selected.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Set Costumer

What does a Set Costumer do?

Set Costumers are the right hand of the Costumer Designer and Costume Supervisor. While Costume Designers design the entire look of a character and supervise the construction of costumes, they seldom go to set. A Set Costumer is responsible for assembling the costume of the actor on set and making sure the Costume Designer’s vision is realized.

Set Costumers will track clothing to ensure that they are loaded and unloaded safely and without causing damage or stains. They supervise the clothing and accessories being delivered to the appropriate actors, and are taught about proper clothing care. This includes educating performers on not eating, drinking, or smoking while wearing specific garments. They create rules for performers to follow when it comes to ensuring that their clothing stays free of filth, rips, and other flaws.

Making sure that the production’s “clothing continuity book” is up to date is a key aspect of the job. This book details each shot in chronological order, including what each actor looks like in each scene. In addition to ensuring that actors wear the right costumes at the right time, this book can also record the use and placement of each costume during the production process.

What's a Set Costumer good at?
  • Dressmaking and tailoring

    Be able to draw, sew, make, alter and maintain clothes and accessories, prepare outfits to look faultless on screen

  • Styling

    Understand the stylist’s or designer’s vision for a show, know what styles suit different people best and create the right looks with flair and creativity

  • Attention to detail

    Spot and deal with any design or styling flaws or issues during filming, keep the department organised and tidy

  • Knowledge of design

    Have a passion as well as an understanding of fashion, the history of design and costume, colour, lighting, pattern and texture, and knowing where to source fabrics, accessories and outfits

  • Communication

    Work well with others, listen and respond to stylists’, presenters’ and contributors’ needs, be trusted and have good relationships with designers, PR and brands who may supply clothing or accessories

Who does a Set Costumer work with?

A Set Costumer works directly with the Costume Designer, Costume Supervisor or Stylist, or all three. They also work with everyone and anyone on the production, in particular the hair and make-up team, to ensure they all create a complete and coherent ‘look’ for any contributors featuring in a programme. They have contact with studio and technical staff, particularly sound when putting on and removing mics, and have regular updates with the production management team regarding budgets and schedules.

How do I become a Set Costumer?

Set Costumers are often the entry-level role in the costume department. Some start as Production Assistants, but others go straight in as Set Costumers. To get in, you need to develop your craft. Here are some more tips:

Educational Requirements: If you want to go to university, classes in art and design, fashion, textiles, theatre studies, graphic design or graphic communication are useful.

Get an Internship: An internship is a job with training, so it’s a great opportunity to earn as you learn. However, it can be challenging to find jobs as an intern within production companies. It might be worth looking for a job as an intern in an industry that uses similar skills, such as being a tailor for a clothing designer or tailoring company. Try to hone your skills through an internship in fashion and textiles or costume and wardrobe.

Build a portfolio: This is essential. Build a Costume Portfolio, get in touch with costume designers and ask if you can shadow them on productions.

Get work experience: Try to get work experience by writing to local production companies and asking if they offer any internships.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Professional Organizations Associated With This Role

Click on your region to find out which professional organizations in your area are associated with this career and watch videos to learn more about them.

This position is represented by the following unions/guilds in your selected region.

Sorry, we couldn’t find a professional organization associated with this role in the region you selected.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Special Effects Makeup Artist

Also known as: SFX Makeup Artist

What does a Special Effects Makeup Artist do?

A Special Effects Makeup Artist (SFX) is a specialized member of the Makeup team responsible for creating specialized makeup effects such as abrasions, bloody wounds, deformities, bruises, supernatural beings, zombies, etc. They use different materials to create prosthetics, which are fake additions to the actors body to make them appear this way. In some situations a SFX Makeup Artist might also be responsible for creating an “aged” look. Depending on the script, they estimate the time and cost of making prosthetics and create bald caps, prosthetic pieces, facial parts, and scars.

Mold-making, casting, applying and removing prosthetics, and working with common materials such as latex and silicone are their responsibilities. They must be skilled in procedures such as face and body aging, bald cap creation, and wound or scar creation. Normally, they will use make-up artists and assistants to apply the prosthetics to the actors themselves (which can take hours). They usually stay on set to make sure the prosthetic is in good working order.

They work closely with the rest of the Makeup team and the Prosthetics team to create these unique looks. They usually come equipped with their own kit.

What's a Special Effects Makeup Artist good at?
  • Makeup Techniques

    Must understand traditional makeup techniques, along with specialized makeup techniques.

  • Creativity

    A vivid imagination, as well as the ability to create and solve problems in novel ways, are required, along with the necessary technical skills and experience. Great design and interpretive skills, as well as the ability to comprehend a project's prosthetics requirements and implement them in both practical and imaginative ways.

  • Organization

    One SFX Makeup Artist might be responsible for dozens of looks on one production

  • Collaborating

    Works closely with several different departments to create a specific look

  • Research

    Must be able to research intricate details of wounds, abrasions and deformities in order to recreate the looks effectively

  • Working with materials

    Such as foam, latex, and silicone, as well as processes like mold-making and casting. Tattoos, false noses, wounds, and scars are all common prosthetics requirements.

Who does a Special Effects Makeup Artist work with?

A SFX Makeup Artist works closely with the Costume, Makeup and Hair departments to assemble a whole look. They may take suggestions from the Production Designer over the severity of a look to fit in with the whole design. SFX Makeup Artists work closely with talent as well. They also work directly with actors.

How do I become a Special Effects Makeup Artist?

SFX Makeup Artists are trained through college, usually Cosmetology school, but this is not necessarily the only route to becoming a SFX Makeup Artist. You can also apprentice under a senior SFX Makeup Artist and learn the techniques this way. Keep a portfolio of all your looks to show potential gigs.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Professional Organizations Associated With This Role

Click on your region to find out which professional organizations in your area are associated with this career and watch videos to learn more about them.

This position is represented by the following unions/guilds in your selected region.

Sorry, we couldn’t find a professional organization associated with this role in the region you selected.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Special FX Supervisor

Also known as: SFX Coordinator, FX Coordinator

What does a Special FX Supervisor do?

Special effects (sometimes known as practical effects or SFX) are either manual or mechanical effects that are applied on set during production. Explosions, earthquakes, vehicle chases, animatronic dragons, and even atmospheric effects like fog and rain are now standard fare in any live-action feature picture.

The Special Effects Supervisor (also known as an SFX Supervisor or an SFX Coordinator) is in charge of a team of Special Effects Technicians who work together to create special effects. The SFX Supervisor is a senior-level professional in charge of ensuring that the effects are carried out efficiently and securely.

Early in pre-production, the SFX Supervisor reports directly to the Director and Producers to ensure that they grasp the Director’s vision for the effects. They also collaborate with Production Designers and Art Directors to iron out the finer points, such as how to attain specific appearances or what particular equipment they’ll need to construct. On-set special effects (SFX) or (SPFX) differ from those made in post-production, which are referred to as “visual effects” (VFX).

What's a Special FX Supervisor good at?
  • Being accurate

    Be methodical in your work, pay close attention to detail, have strong problem-solving skills

  • Being efficient

    Work quickly and accurately on set so that the physical production can run smoothly, organize and prioritize your tasks

  • Familiarity with technical equipment

    From fog machines to high-tech prosthetics, SFX Supervisors are expected to understand, use, and even repair many complex pieces of equipment on set

  • Collaboration

    Work in pre-production with the director or producer to decide on which shots will need SFX work, respond to their creative and artistic direction

  • Leadership

    Share the Director or Producers’ vision of the film with the SFX artists of all departments, inspire them to do their best work, manage their output in terms of quality and deadlines

Who does a Special FX Supervisor work with?

The Special FX Supervisor works closely with the director, producer, actors, and all of the special effects department.

Professional Organizations Associated With This Role

Click on your region to find out which professional organizations in your area are associated with this career and watch videos to learn more about them.

This position is represented by the following unions/guilds in your selected region.

Sorry, we couldn’t find a professional organization associated with this role in the region you selected.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Production Buyer

Also known as: Props Buyer, Buyer

What is a Production Buyer?
What does a Production Buyer do?

Production Buyers shop for the props and set dec needed for a production. They work closely with Set Decorators to source, for example, barbed wire, machetes, telephone kiosks and hotel luggage trollies; anything that’s needed for the action and look of a set. They mark up (make notes on) the script and make a list of all the props needed. After this list has been checked with the Set Decorator, they go to prop houses and book them.

The Buyers then write a detailed schedule of the props, working out dates and durations of hire to minimize costs, and confirming collection and return dates with the props master. They produce weekly budgets for the production accountant so that all spending can be closely monitored.

They are also responsible for the art department petty cash, which must be carefully monitored and reconciled at the end of each production. Production Buyers usually work on a freelance basis.

What's a Production Buyer good at?
  • Knowledge of Prop Houses

    Have a wide network of useful contacts with prop houses, suppliers and specialist manufacturers

  • Organizing

    Schedule and manage a budget and keep track of the detail of many different sets at the same time

  • Resourcefulness

    Find cost-effective solutions

  • Communication

    Work closely with the set decorator, props master, accountant and props houses

  • Knowledge of period furniture and architecture:

    Have an interest in the creative side of set decorating

Who does a Production Buyer work with?

On large productions, a Production Buyer has an Assistant, an Assistant Buyer or Petty Cash Buyer, who helps with research, sourcing items, managing a petty cash float and listing all expenditures per set.

How do I become a Production Buyer?

There is no set route to being a buyer, but it’s helpful to have a background in art. Consider becoming an art trainee first and working your way up to working on a big budget feature film from there. This will help you make the contacts and build up the industry knowledge to get work in the art department of a film or TV drama.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Professional Organizations Associated With This Role

Click on your region to find out which professional organizations in your area are associated with this career and watch videos to learn more about them.

This position is represented by the following unions/guilds in your selected region.

Sorry, we couldn’t find a professional organization associated with this role in the region you selected.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Production Designer

What is a Production Designer?
What does a Production Designer do?

Production Designers create the way a film or TV drama looks. Films can be set in any number of places; a Victorian orphanage, a Caribbean cruise ship, or another planet, for example. They are an artistic jack-of-all-trades and a confident leader who manages the entire art department. They work with all the other visual departments, costume, lighting, visual and special effects, and graphic design. They help create the visual world in which the story is set.

Production Designers start with the script. Researching and collaborating with the Director, Director of Photography and other heads of department, they imagine the screenplay visually. They draw sketches showing mood, atmosphere, lighting, composition, colour and texture, which are given to the Art Director to develop.

The Production Designer is also in charge of hiring and managing the art department, which can be one of the biggest departments on a film crew. They then work with other art department members to draw up a budget. They prioritize the work schedule and allocate the management of finances to team members performing different tasks.

What's a Production Designer good at?
  • Creativity

    Visualize the whole look of a film or TV drama, starting with words on a page

  • Art

    Draw by hand to scale, do technical drawings and computer-aided design

  • Design

    Understand colour theory, know the history of architecture and interior design

  • Knowledge of Photography

    Understand cameras, lenses and lighting and their effect on a film’s look and mood

  • Organization

    Manage budgets, draw up schedules, prioritize and meet deadlines

  • Communication

    Share the vision with a wide number of different people and keep a team working together well

Who does a Production Designer work with?

Set Decorator
The Set Decorator is responsible for the decoration of a set, including furnishings and all objects that are on view.

Production Buyer
Before the start of shooting, Production Buyers prepare orders for props.

Art Director
On big productions, Art Directors may start work months before shooting starts. They analyze a script to identify all the props or special items that will be needed and find cost-effective creative solutions to construction and decorating problems.

Assistant Art Director (first assistant, second, third)
Assistant Art Directors’ responsibilities vary depending on the size of the production. They may help the Art Director with research, surveying locations, model making or producing sets. On large productions with multiple sets, an Assistant Art Director will take responsibility for some of the smaller sets and manage the cleanliness and props for that set. Assistant Art Directors also sketch ideas, refine them, and work on 3D models.

Concept Artist
Big studio productions usually hire a number of concept artists to design specific elements, such as fantasy creatures. Concept Artists may analyze source material and work on illustrations that are both striking and accurate to be presented to the Producer, Director, and FX Supervisors. Many Concept Artists start their careers as graphic artists or illustrators before moving into the screen industries.

Set Designer
Set Designers provide hundreds of technical drawings that serve as a template for the construction department. Drawings are often still produced by hand, but computer-aided design software (also known as CAD software) is also used.

Production Assistant
Production Assistants usually start work in the early stages of pre-production and can be specifically assigned to the art department. This is an entry-level position and tasks vary.

How do I become a Production Designer?

As with many creative fields, there is no set way of becoming a Production Designer. Degrees in graphic design, theatre, architecture, or art, however, will give you a solid background in some of the key skills you’ll need to get into the industry—and can provide you with valuable industry connections. Courses in woodwork and set construction at your local college can be valuable to gain experience in building and design.

Most Production Designers have worked in the art department for many years. Aim to start as a Production Assistant and work your way up through the ranks outlined above.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Professional Organizations Associated With This Role

Click on your region to find out which professional organizations in your area are associated with this career and watch videos to learn more about them.

This position is represented by the following unions/guilds in your selected region.

Sorry, we couldn’t find a professional organization associated with this role in the region you selected.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Costume Designer

What does a Costume Designer do?

A Costume Designer is a person who designs the look of the costumes and wardrobe for all of the cast on a film or TV show.

Costume is at the core of a film or TV production. As well as contributing to the overall look, specific clothing helps actors feel emotionally connected to the character they are playing.

Costume Designers design and create or purchase all costumes for the cast. The role of the Costume Designer is to create the characters’ outfits and balance the scenes using texture and colour. They may sew and construct the costumes from scratch, or source existing clothing that suits the look of the film. The Costume Designer may also collaborate with the hair and makeup departments.

They start by working with Directors, Producers, Writers, the Production Designer, and hair and makeup departments to help give the production a look that supports the storytelling. They research, sketch, and draw mood boards of characters and clothes to communicate the style.

They then break down the script, working out what they need to create or acquire. Working within tight budgets and deadlines, they recruit a team, organize a schedule of purchases and ensure the costumes are created on time for fittings. With the help of the team they schedule fittings and take photographs. These are then approved by the Producer and Director. They are also responsible for ensuring all materials used in the development or creation of the various costumes meet safety standards (for example, breakaway materials for easy on and off) and are within budget.

What's a Costume Designer good at?
  • Dressmaking and Tailoring

    Draw, sew, make and source clothes, including fabrics and accessories

  • Styling

    Understand the director’s vision, know what that means for the costumes, know what styles suit different people best and create the right looks with flair and creativity, have an eye for detail

  • Costume History

    Know contemporary fashion and clothing design through the ages, be able to research using books, museums and the internet

  • Storytelling

    Understand how a story can be told through garments and colour palette

  • Making Clothes

    Have an in-depth knowledge of all aspects of garment production

  • Organization

    Break down a script into costume requirements, schedule the costume production, manage the team and the budget

  • Communication

    Share the vision of the costume design with team members, listen to actors and respond to their needs, be trusted, and have good relationships with designers, PR (public relations), and brands who may supply clothing in current styles, as well as hair and make-up artists

Who does a Costume Designer work with?

Costume Supervisor or Background Costume Supervisor
Supervisors oversee the day-to-day use of the wardrobe on set and plan for the coming days or weeks. This includes organizing schedules, transport and checking continuity. They may be required to organize and arrange costume purchases. A very important role of the costume supervisor is to oversee the washing and repair of the costumes, as they are often heavily used throughout the day and start to wear and tear. Costume Designers spend most of their time in their own department, creating, sourcing, adjusting and maintaining outfits.

Costume Design Assistant
Costume Design Assistants work with Costume Designers to break down the script and assess the costume needs of every character. They research costume styles, designs and construction methods using the internet, archives and museums. They work on the department budget, estimating costs of staff and resources, can be involved in sourcing and buying costumes, accessories and fabric swatches. They may oversee fittings or be given responsibilities for taking specific actors’ measurements. They may also be in charge of costuming the supporting artists under the guidance of the costume designer.

Costume Maker/Sewer
Costume Makers create the garments. Starting with the designer’s specifications, Costume Makers cut the fabric and sew the costumes. Sometimes they make a rough version first. It’s a creative role because it involves interpreting the vision. Costume makers also fit the costumes on the actors and alter the garments as required.

How do I become a Costume Designer?

Costume designers typically start as costume trainees and work their way up through the ranks of the department outlined above. Some have experience working with costumiers and others come from theatre or dressmaking.

Get an internship: Internships are jobs with training, so they are a great opportunity to earn as you learn. It might be worth looking for a job as an apprentice in an industry that uses similar skills, such as being a tailor for a clothing designer or tailoring company.

Build a portfolio: Create a portfolio of the work you have done. This could include design sketches, photos of costumes you made, or past work experience in the field. This will be used to show off your work to new job opportunities.

Meet people in the industry: Reach out into the industry and express your interest. You can meet some people you could potentially shadow and create a working relationship with.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Professional Organizations Associated With This Role

Click on your region to find out which professional organizations in your area are associated with this career and watch videos to learn more about them.

This position is represented by the following unions/guilds in your selected region.

Sorry, we couldn’t find a professional organization associated with this role in the region you selected.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.

Reel Opportunities

Costume Supervisor

Also known as: Wardrobe Supervisor

What does a Costume Supervisor do?

The Costume Supervisor is the head of the costume department. They oversee all aspects of the department including management of dressers, designers, assistants and fitters. Other duties include buying wardrobe and costume pieces, designing and repairing costumes.

Costume Supervisors keep everything shipshape in the ‘costume or wardrobe department’ and thrive on being organized. Working to the Costume Designer’s plans, they coordinate the work of the department, work out what clothes and accessories need to be made, hired or bought, what staff are needed and where. They also organize storage and supervise the tasks that need doing to ensure all work is done to schedule and budget.

Costume Supervisors work with the Costume Designer to ensure costumes or outfits are of the standard they require, ready and prepared in time for fittings, rehearsals, and shooting. During filming, they supervise continuity of outfits, the cleaning, maintenance and any repairs or adjustments. When filming is over, they supervise any cleaning, repairing and returns.

What's a Costume Supervisor good at?
  • Organization

    Schedule the costume production or hire, maintenance, repairs and adjustments, oversee the department budget and the petty cash

  • Leadership

    Manage large teams of people with different skills and responsibilities, deliver costumes and outfits when required, meeting department and production deadlines

  • Communication

    Work well with others and have good relationships with designers, PR (public relations) and brands who may supply clothing or costumes, explain clearly to staff what’s expected of them

  • Dressmaking and Tailoring

    Draw, sew, make and source clothes, including fabrics and accessories

  • Knowledge of Design

    Be aware of the history of design and costume, and have an understanding of colour, pattern and texture

Who does a Costume Supervisor work with?

A Costume Supervisor typically spends most of their time in their own department, overseeing the creating, sourcing, adjusting, maintenance, cleaning and repair of outfits. They work closely with the Costume Designer to ensure the team they manage makes the costumes or outfits the designer wants and will often work with the same designer on all their big productions. They may work closely with the hair and make-up team, particularly if wigs are required.

Costume Supervisors have regular updates with the production management team regarding budgets and schedules. They have contact with members of editorial and production to ensure all needs are being met.

How do I become a Costume Supervisor?

Costume Supervisors usually start out working as trainees or assistants in the costume department and work their way up. A background in fashion or costume production is helpful.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

Professional Organizations Associated With This Role

Click on your region to find out which professional organizations in your area are associated with this career and watch videos to learn more about them.

This position is represented by the following unions/guilds in your selected region.

Sorry, we couldn’t find a professional organization associated with this role in the region you selected.

Our Partner, ScreenSkills UK is the industry-led skills body for the UK screen industries. For further information, www.screenskills.com.
Profiles and profile icons © 2022 ScreenSkills Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright owner.
Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.