What does a set designer do?
A set designer is in charge of designing and creating the sets that appear in films, on television programmes as well as in the theatre. The role involves working and communicating with directors, producers, costume designers and other members of staff.
Typical responsibilities include:
- reading scripts
- producing plans, drawings and models of sets
- preparing estimates of set costs
- managing budgets
- viewing possible outside broadcast sites
- attending rehearsals/film takes
- meeting with and commissioning set construction companies
- Film and video production companies
- Terrestrial, satellite, digital, cable and independent television companies
- Advertising agencies
- Music video production companies
Experienced designers (particularly film set designers) commonly work on a self-employed/freelance basis.
Vacancies are advertised via the internet, in national newspapers and in specialist publications including The Stage newspaper, Broadcast, The Knowledge, Ariel (for BBC jobs) and Screen International as well as their online equivalents.
Employers will prefer candidates with degrees in theatre studies, creative or performing arts, drama, fine or visual arts, graphic or 3D design, illustration, architecture and landscape architecture. However, the ability to demonstrate a genuine interest in, knowledge or experience of visual arts, culture and television, film or theatre is essential, and often more important than academic qualifications.
Job shadowing and unpaid/vacation work experience can be helpful. It is essential to make speculative applications – directories such as the British Theatre Directory, Kemps Film, TV and Video Yearbook, Broadcast Production Guide, Kays UK Production Directory, the Guardian Media Guide, and Spotlight Contacts contain useful contact information.
- Working well under pressure
- Good spatial awareness
- Technical skills