Art Director

What do Art Directors do?

Art Directors act as project managers for the biggest department on any film - the art department. They facilitate the production designer's creative vision for all the locations and sets that eventually give the film its unique visual identity. Art Directors are responsible for the art department budget and schedule of work, and help the production designer to maximize the money allocated to the department. Art Directors are usually requested by the production designer, and are responsible for the assistant art director, the draughtsman* (as many as 20 draughtsmen may be employed on big budget films), the art department assistant(s) and all construction personnel. As Art Directors must find practical solutions to creative problems while simultaneously monitoring the budget, this is highly skilled work. Many Art Directors work on television dramas and commercials, as well as on films. The hours are long and the job can involve long periods working away from home. Art Directors work on a freelance basis.

What is the Art Director job?
On big budget films, Art Directors start work up to 4 to 5 months before shooting begins (on low budget films 8 weeks may be sufficient). When the final schedule is delivered (detailing the precise order of scenes in which the film will be shot), Art Directors begin the work of overseeing the preparation of the first sets required. Art Directors analyze the script to identify all props or special items that may require longer lead times. Simultaneously, a team of draughtsmen draw up numerous plans for sets and locations for use by Art Directors when working with the construction managers and their team. This is an extremely busy, pressured time for every member of the art department; as well as coping with this pressure, Art Directors must also tightly control the budget (which is prepared and monitored on a spreadsheet).

On big productions, weekly meetings with the accountant are key to this process. A major part of Art Directors' work is troubleshooting - they must find cost effective solutions which also provide practical answers to construction and decorating problems. During pre-production, they are also responsible for commissioning all special effects (such as explosions or car crash sequences), hiring all vehicles (from cars to horse drawn carriages) and organizing the casting of all animals (chosen by the director). As the shooting date approaches, Art Directors liaise closely with the location manager to negotiate when locations can be prepared and dressed.

During filming, Art Directors continue to oversee the construction, dressing and striking (dismantling) of the remaining sets. After the film wraps (shooting is completed), Art Directors must ensure that all sets are struck and locations cleared, and that all outstanding art department bills are paid.

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Art Director jobs which have appeared on the Media Match jobs board:

Graphic Designer
Alexandria, VA
New York, NY

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Job description sources include (but are not limited to), and wikipedia.