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Production designer is a term used in the film industry and television to refer to the person responsible for the overall look of a filmed event such as films, TV programs, 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 created in 1939 out of respect for the amount and level of design work single-handedly accomplished by William Cameron Menzies on the film Gone with the Wind. Previously, and often subsequently, the person(s) with the same responsibility had been called "art directors."[1]



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 personnel in other departments such as the 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.

The “art department” is a group of people who work with the production designer to implement the scenic elements of that vision. The art director supervises set construction and painting, as well as modifications to existing locations, such as changing signs or installing new carpet. An art director has a myriad of specialists reporting to them including the construction department, which includes carpenters, painters, plasterers, riggers and other trades, propmakers, greensmen (landscapers), sign painters, and scenic artists. A production illustrator, such as Mentor Huebner, provides pre-production concept art and storyboards. The set decorator, often someone with experience in interior decoration, finds decorative items for the sets such as furniture, wallpaper, knick-knacks and lighting fixtures. Working under the decorator are buyers, as well as a crew of set dressers who bring the items to the set, arrange furniture, hang curtains and “dress” the set. A property master coordinates with the production designer, but also works closely with the director and actors to provide the items handled directly by the actors such as newspapers, weapons, musical instruments and food. For the most part, the prop crew, along with an on-set dresser, maintain the integrity of the production designer's vision during the shoot and manipulate the items for the camera.

Since 1929 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences grants an Art Direction Award to an outstanding Production Designer. An Art Director may only be considered eligible for an Oscar when there is no Production Designer credited.

Some of the crew who work in the art department under the production designer include:

Societies and trade organizations

  • In the United States, production designers are represented by IATSE Local 800; the Art Directors Guild. In Canada production designers are represented by The Director's Guild of Canada, Except in British Columbia where they are represented by IATSE.

Noted motion picture production designers

See also


  1. ^ Preston, Ward (1994). What an Art Director Does. Silman-James Press. pp. 150. ISBN 1-879505-18-5.  
  • Barnwell, Jane (2004). Production Design: Architects of the Screen. FWallflower. ISBN 1-903364-55-8.  
  • Block, Bruce (2001). The Visual Story: Seeing the Structure of Film, TV, and New Media. Focal Press. ISBN 0-240-80467-8.  
  • Hans-Jürgen Tast (ed.) ANTON WEBER (1904-1979) - Filmarchitekt bei der UFA (Schellerten 2005) ISBN 3-88842-030-X;
  • Katz, Ephraim (2005). The Film Encyclopedia (5ed). Collins. ISBN 0-06-074214-3.  

External links

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