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.

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.

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

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Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.