On a film set, the production designer is responsible for the artistic and visual design of a production, including all aspects of set design, from the color of a carpet to the appearance of a spaceship's deck in a science fiction film. Since the production designer oversees everything from the size and construction of a set to the smallest details, he must possess the artistic and structural knowledge of an architect, interior designer and draftsman. In large productions, the set designer works for the production designer and has a team that includes an interior designer and a toolmaker. In smaller, low-budget productions, the production designer could take on all of the aforementioned roles. Read the following steps to find out how to become a film production designer.
Step 1. Develop your artistic skills by taking courses in drawing, interior design, architecture and CAD design
Many of these courses are part of undergraduate study programs, but you can also enroll in graduate courses, or check out what the university in your area has to offer.
Step 2. Volunteer at a local theater or student film, taking on any role that involves setting up a set
Whether you build the scenery, design an entire set or work as a toolmaker, it will always be an experience that will help you develop invaluable skills for your career.
Step 3. Prepare a portfolio of your best work
Take photographs of the sets you have designed, and if you have clippings of favorable reviews of any production you have been a part of, add them. If you've worked on a movie, make a reel with clips or a video clip file.
Step 4. Apprentices with an experienced production designer
Of course, this is easier said than done, but learning from someone with great talent and experience will improve the quality of your work. Send resumes and cover letters, along with your portfolio, to set designers in your area and ask if they need an intern or an apprentice. Don't expect to get paid for any such work - you'll need another source of income to support yourself.
Step 5. Continue to develop your skills by keeping up to date with CAD and design work
Try to always be working on a project, even if it's an amateur production, an internship or a low-budget film.
Step 6. Look for a job as a production designer
Approach production companies, directors and film studio executives by submitting your resume, cover letter and portfolio, via email or regular mail. Respond to job postings on Mandy.com and other websites with job postings for film productions.
Step 7. Accept any job that helps you get into a movie studio
Daily contact with other industry professionals will allow you to expand your network of contacts among film industry professionals and will help you find some employment opportunities.
Step 8. Be kind and polite to everyone you meet, and promote your set designer business
You never know when your resume will land on the right desk and get you a call.