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 & 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?
Draw by hand to scale, do technical drawings and computer-aided 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
Manage budgets, draw up schedules, prioritize and meet deadlines
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.
For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.
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