Film Art Director

Manage the department charged with creating movie sets.

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$43,000 – $163,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Film Art Directors do?

A Film Art Director plays a large role in the making of a movie, primarily in pre-production, as one of the head honchos in a set’s biggest unit, the art department. As a Film Art Director, you lead the department in designing and creating the set of a movie.

The role of a Film Art Director is hugely important, as every movie needs to create a mood. You walk out of The Matrix, for example, with a very different feeling from…just about any Kate Hudson movie. The Matrix gets that über-cool feel not just from the Actors and the script, but also from the amazing sets, the dark lighting choices, the use of machinery, and slick costumes. All of those elements go into art direction, and it’s your job to ensure they cohere into a believable, immersive world.

This isn’t easy: A film is a huge production that involves myriad elements, so getting the tone and the feel of each scene just right is a particularly difficult task. However you are ultimately the person held responsible for solidifying everyone’s vision and creating fluidity between the look of each scene. Thus the ability to imagine and then execute on a finished product is very important.

This position is a mix of administrative and creative duties. First, you settle on a vision for the set design with the Production Designer and the movie’s Director. Then you work closely with the Set Decorator, who materializes that vision into couches and wall hangings.

Should I be a Film Art Director?

You should have an associate's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Calm Under Pressure: You keep your cool when dealing with highly stressful situations.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.

  • How to become a Film Art Director

    Most Film Art Directors have an Associate's degree. Chart?chd=s:ak9waa&chl=|certificate+%2811%25%29|associate%27s+%2866%25%29|bachelor%27s+%2824%25%29||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,66
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