Not everyone who works in a movie receives their due appreciation, but there is not a speck of doubt that they deserve it. In this blog, we are going to talk about such persons who form the technical crew of one of the major crafts of cinema: Art Direction. We will go into topics like what exactly are their jobs and how crucial they are to the filmmaking process. For most things, the production designer relies heavily on the support crew as they facilitate the smooth sailing of a day’s shoot.
Prop makers are an important part of the technical crew of the Art department. They create props for period films, stunt actions and any other scene in the movie by liaising with production buyers. Prop Makers also make props requiring specialist skills, such as signwriting, upholstery work, mould work, woodturning, sculpture, casting, furniture making, modelling, electrical engineering and electronics, or papier-mâché. Prop makers work under strict budgets and deadlines to create the required props.
During pre-production, Property Masters plan, design and adapt props and special sets, attend rehearsals to plan the placement of props and discuss with the actors about its care and operation. They also plan the furniture and set dressing in the set. They coordinate the loading, transport and storage of all props during the production process. Post production, they oversee the return of all the props and their disposal or sale.
A scenic artist is hired by the film studios to perform tasks such as purchasing paint supplies, creating textures and colour samples, to prime, basecoat and touch up the scenery, and finally, clearing the paint area on completion of the project. The scenic artist must typically work under strict deadlines, as it’s usually one of the last tasks to be performed by the art department.
Set decorators, also called as stylists are hired by set designers to decorate the set of the film. Props, such as stunt props, or those described in the script of the film, or props that have an ancient or artistic element to them are provided by the set decorators. The requirements might be varied- animals or confectionary or the Eiffel tower- these are all prepared and placed by the set decorator, through whose flair the inanimate scenes of the movie are lent life
The above picture is taken from a scene in the film Hugo, directed by Martin Scorsese. The setting is that of a library with an abundant number of books lying around, asking to be read. Through production design of this scene, the decorator is carrying forward the symbolism for the never ending hunger of humans for knowledge and reminds us of our inability to perceive all of it in our lifetime.
The set construction coordinator works as the head of the construction department. Their work begins in the pre-production stages, working with the production designer to realise his vision for the set. Together with the producer, they come up with the most economical way to achieve the production designer’s idea and not exceed the budget of the film. The construction coordinator hires carpenters, painters, plasterers, labourers, sculptors and sign writers as part of his crew.
This is the first of three articles discussing the technical crew of a film production. In our next blog, we will be talking about the technical team that works with the cinematographer. Hope you enjoyed it.
- Open Face Team
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