ART DIRECTOR

DEPARTMENTS
ANIMATION | VFX

OVERVIEW
Realising the Production Designer’s creative vision for all the sets and locations that give productions their look and feel
Project managing the work of the art department
Undertaking the role of Production Designer on smaller productions

For this role, you will need to:

  • Have a good all-round knowledge of interior design and architecture and the history of both
  • Have a practical understanding of building and construction
  • Have a good knowledge of computer budgeting software
  • Have excellent free-hand drawing, perspective and technical drawing skills
  • Possess a good eye for decoration and detail
  • Be able to conceptualise ideas
  • Be able to think visually
  • Have a methodical approach to work
  • Have strong leadership skills, to motivate and direct a team
  • Be able to see the broader picture and to co-ordinate effectively
  • Show diplomacy and sensitivity when working with artists and crew
  • Be willing to work long and irregular hours
  • Be aware of and sensitive towards different working practices and cultures when working in other countries

WHAT DOES AN ART DIRECTOR DO?

It is the Art Director’s job to realise the Production Designer’s creative vision for all locations that eventually give productions their unique visual identity. On feature films, they act as project managers for art departments and are usually appointed by the Production Designer.

The Art Director starts work when they receive the script and final schedule, detailing the precise shooting order of the scenes. They analyse the script to identify things that may require longer lead times, at the same time, they oversee the drawing up of plans. On a big budget film production, this can start four to five months before shooting. On low budget productions, it can be as little as four weeks.

It’s important for the Art Director to work across departments. They work with the relevant teams about visual or computer-generated effects that are be required. On big productions, they have weekly meetings with the Accountant. They must find cost-effective creative solutions which also provide practical answers to problems.

Will I need a qualification?
You will generally require a qualification to be an Art Director. Many are graduates of art, architecture, theatre, interior or 3D design courses. You could also undertake higher-level courses in film and/or theatre production design. After training, it will be vital for you to acquire on-the-job experience of how art departments work, studio practice, working on locations, etc.

WHAT’S THE BEST ROUTE IN?

To become an Art Director, you need to learn your skills on the job. This involves starting out as an Art Department Assistant and progressing up. Although this progression will take a number of years, it is a crucial process during which you will gain the knowledge and experience you require to become a good Art Director.

If you study film, television and theatre design you could also gain experience working on low budget productions before progressing to junior roles.

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