|Production Designer William Cameron Menzies Kings Row (1942)|
The term "Production Designer" gets thrown around a lot in the industry, but what does a Production Designer actually do?
I pulled two descriptions that do a good job explaining who they are and how they work.
Production Designer (Wikipedia)
"In film and television, a production designer (or P.D) is the person responsible for the overall look of a filmed event such as films, TV programs, video games, music videos or adverts.
"Production designers have one of the key creative roles in the creation of motion pictures and television. Working directly with the director and producer, they must select the settings and style to visually tell the story. The term 'production designer' was coined by William Cameron Menzies while he was working on the film Gone with the Wind. Previously (and often subsequently) the people with the same responsibilities were called 'art directors.'
"From early in pre-production, the production designer collaborates with the director and director of photography to establish the visual feel and specific aesthetic needs of the project. The production designer guides key staff in other departments such as the concept artist, the storyboard artist, costume designer, the key hair and make-up stylists, the special effects director and the locations manager (among others) to establish a unified visual appearance to the film."
What Are Production Designers? (Art Directors Guild)
"Production Designers are the visual artists and storytellers, who, in consultation primarily with the director, create and develop the overall look, atmosphere and emotion that move the story. They do this through the conception and creation of stage sets and the selection and alteration of practical locations and backgrounds.
"Production Designers also collaborate with the visual effects team and provide the designs necessary to maintain a coherent blend between the look of the production, cinematography and the post-production visual effects footage.
"Production Designers are more than just motion picture architects and engineers who build sets. They are involved in the overall production design and/or selections of visual effects, lighting, props and set dressing. They communicate regularly with producers, directors and cinematographers and collaborate consistently with the second unit, stunts, special effects and numerous other departments. They also provide all necessary backgrounds and ensure that all sets are well photographed and contribute to the totality of the film.
"Production Designers are artists who adapt their style to all types of films. The scope of their talent is limitless. Their imaginations soar within a practical and economic framework. They make seemingly impossible things possible for filming, all the while under the pressures of money and time.
"The Production Designer typically has a staff that often includes an Art Director(s) and/or Assistant Art Director(s) to technically develop the design concepts and manage the progress and schedule. The terms 'Art Director' and 'Art Direction' are titles often used interchangeably with 'Production Designer' and 'Production Design'.
"These are specific duties handled by the Production Designer of a movie, television show or commercial:
- Collaborate with the director and producer to interpret the script, select locations and settings and decide on a style and approach to visually tell the film's story.
- Select and oversee the work of Art Directors and/or Assistant Art Directors to technically develop the design concepts into practical sets, managing the process and schedule.
- Oversee the following professionals, all vital contributors to the look of the film:
- Set decorators, who dress the settings with furniture and props, supervising a team that includes a lead person, a carpet and drapery person and swing gang.
- Set designers, who create technical drawings to build or modify sets, locations and signs.
- Illustrators, who draft three-dimensional illustrations and/or sketches and designs used in the preparation and production of motion pictures.
- Graphic Artists, who create all necessary graphics, including signage, books and posters. (These professionals, of course, are also members of Local 800.)
- Model makers, who create study models of proposed sets.
- Art department coordinators, who provide logistical support and research.
- Location managers and scouts, who seek out possible locations and manage location filming and permits.
- Prop masters, who provide, with the help of an assistant, the necessary hand props for actors to use during filming.
- Construction coordinators, who coordinate the building of sets with a foreperson, prop makers, laborers, painters, green persons and scenic artist.
- Visual effects staff, including matte painters, model builders and digital effects artists.
- Special effects staff, who engineer, integrate and coordinate with the art department all phases of physical and mechanical effects.
What do you think of the Production Designer's job?