- Design the look and feel of films, TV shows or theatre productions
- You'll need excellent creative skills, vision, and the ability to work well in a team
- Opportunities to travel around the world, but hours can be long and the work can be demanding
Production designers are responsible for setting the overall style of a film, TV, or theatre production, and overseeing the process to make sure their vision is realised. This is a highly creative role and you'll be required to develop a concept for the production that fits with the director and writer's vision and material.
- Understanding the script and the director's approach to the production
- Researching the historical context or locations
- Developing and visualising concepts as drawings or digital visuals
- Working with the team to select and develop ideas
- Overseeing the process of the creation of the final production
- Factoring in all aspects of the visual experience of the production including sets, props, costumes, lighting, make-up, and sound
- Working with specialists who will deliver on your vision
Many production designers are self-employed and they often work closely with the same directors from production to production. The hours can be long and you may need to travel around the world for film and TV work. You may also need to work unsocial hours, during evenings and on weekends.
You may be able to work freelance - the length of contracts vary according to the nature of the production and its budget.
Most production designers have a background in an arts subject, but there are no set requirements, and your skills and experience will be the main factors that help you find work.
You could study a related subject like technical theatre, film, TV, or design to build up some of the skills you need, but getting experience and building networks are the most important factors in finding work.
You can start to build experience by volunteering as part of theatre groups or on amateur film productions or student projects. Immersing yourself in the industry and taking any opportunity you can to build networks is crucially important, and you should build up a portfolio of your work to show when applying for jobs.
During the start of your career as a production designer, you'll most likely work across more than one genre to find as much work as possible. You might work in exhibition design, museum design, or design for corporate events.
As you progress, you'll expand your portfolio and contacts. You'll move into bigger productions with larger budgets. You could also move into teaching or lecturing, or start producing your own productions.