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.
- 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.
Personal Qualities and Skills
Key skills for a set designer
- Working well under pressure
- Good spatial awareness
- Technical skills
Pay And Opportunities
Typical employers of set designers
- 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 online, in national newspapers and in specialist publications including The Stage newspaper, Broadcast, The Knowledge and Screen International as well as their online equivalents.
Qualifications and training required
Although there are routes into this profession for both university graduates and school leavers, 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.
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, KFTV and Kays Production Manual contain useful contact information.