A set decorator is in charge of the set dressing on a film set, which includes the furnishings, wallpaper, lighting fixtures, and many of the other objects that will be seen in the film. Props and set dressing often overlap, but are provided by different departments. Props are defined as items which are handled directly by actors, and discussions take place between set decorator and prop masters in order to check that everything is being covered. The set decorator gives direction to buyers and to the leadman, who is in charge of the set dressers. The set decorator maintains a set dressing budget separate from the set budget or the prop budget and answers directly to the production designer.  A movie set decorator is a key team member for the production team of a movie. The set decorator creates the environment by “dressing the set” once the sets are built or the location has been chosen.

Though it’s a behind-the-scenes job, a set decorator’s work often takes center stage.  Develop artistic ability. A movie set decorator must create a visually appealing area that represents the vision of the production team. Whether you develop your ability through formal education in art or you have natural talent, you must be able to make the set look as realistic as possible.  Get your foot in the door. You need to meet the right people in the industry who can help you become a movie set decorator. You should join the Set Decorators Society of America which is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1993. Along with this, they offer fellowships and networking opportunities in the industry, have an Associate and Student Membership available and also offer internships and educational opportunities. You can join the Society online at their website.  Gain the necessary skills. A movie set decorator often has to oversee the process of dressing the set. This can include meeting with the production designer and determining their wishes, researching period and style and negotiating the budget.

In addition, you need to be prepared to shop for supplies, fabricate items that are not available on the market and work with specialty craftsmen.  Know how to express personality through the set. You need to analyze the characters that will be interacting on the set. Then you integrate their idiosyncrasies into the set. To be successful at this, you must pay attention the smallest detail.  Create a reputation. Most movie set decorators start off on smaller projects like commercials or television sets. You need to be willing to work your way up the industry ladder, building your credentials and establishing your reputation. Many movie set decorators are hired for their good reputation and word-of-mouth referrals.

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