Professional Practice

Whilst studying about the historical context in production design I also interviewed a professional production designer who had been working in theatre, film and television since 1990.
What attracted you in to production design?
At a very young age I fell in love with the theatre when I saw my first pantomime.  Later on the years when I realized I had a natural ability for art and had a passion for theatre, it made sense to become a theatre designer.
What sort of problems did you encounter?
It is a highly competitive industry; you have to be really ambitious. In my opinion I think it is a necessity to include of really good skills to succeed, also, you work on a self-employed free lance basis which means you have to find your own work. You have to be disciplined with cash flow.
What qualifications did you take?
You have to have aptitude for art and design; it helps to be interested in history. The other qualifications are 3D design; this is the subject you have to be strongest in. She did a bachelors degree in theatre design, a master’s degree in film/TV design. She also did a foundation course before the subjects. All of these took her 6 years.
How much did you get paid?
The pay is very good in film and television, especially in commercial work. In commercial work, you can get over £600 a day. Because this is a free lance job, you have to balance periods of unemployment.
How do you deal with finding work?
You have to get yourself an agent to find you work who take a percentage of your pay as a fee. You should also network with the people in the industry.
What are the pros and cons of being a designer?
The good things include that it is extremely varied, you are always doing something different, and it is also extremely creative. You also get paid well when you are the head of the department. You also get to travel a lot.
The challenging part of being a designer is very high responsibility and stress; you also have to manage tight budgets and deadlines. The job is very insecure as you may not be employed for a long time. This is a very demanding job it may take over family life.
Have you ever had a bad review?
Once, it was a technical issue about sight lines. You have to make sure the entire audience can see the stage. However when you receive criticism you need to be able to handle it well, consider it in your next plans by improving it and take good care that it is does not re-occur.
What is it like showing your work to an audience?
It is very exciting, especially in some nights, when you sit amongst the audience and they have a positive reaction. You realize that you have a significant impact in how much the audience enjoys and understands the performance.

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