We interviewed a professional production designer who had been working in theatre, film and television since 1990.
What attracted you in to production design?
She fell in love with the theatre as a child when she saw her first pantomime. When I realized I had a natural ability for art, 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 and 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
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 a 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.
The pros and cons of being a designer?
The good things are that it is extremely varied, you are always doing something different, 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.
What’s 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.