Thursday, 18 November 2010

The role of a production designer

All production designers have great artistic qualities and often specialize in 3D theatre or film design. To be a successful production designer you often need to have a lot of good skills to succeed in the industry like, great communication skills to communicate with other workers, strong managerial skills to organize your workers and technical skills to understand set construction, lighting and stagecraft. The production designer should also communicate & work with the director, Producer and crew so they are all on the same path and know what to do. A production designer also needs to be organized, creative, observant and tolerant of other and have a wide subject knowledge as all of these skills will help him/her in the future to become a great production designer.

Personal qualities and skills needed to be a production designer.

Communicates visual ideas with images & words
Analytical: needs to understand & interpret scripts
Research: has wide subject knowledge of historical styles
Managerial: must organise the crew/art dept. to create the sets & run the budget
Technical: understands set construction, lighting & stagecraft
Collaborative: has to communicate & work with the Director, Producer & crew
Personal qualities
Wide subject knowledge

                                                                    John Nappier
I decided to look at a professional production designer and came across John Napier who was a successful designer. John Napier was born march 4th 1944 in London; he studied at Hornsey College of Art and Central School of Arts and Crafts. John Napier has worked for big companies and has designed a lot of successful productions like Peter Shaffer Equus, Trelawny of the wells, an enemy of the people and Candide. John Napiers work hasn’t gone unnoticed as he has won many awards such as Laurence Olivier Award for Best Set Design; Tony Award; a drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design.


Jobs in theatre/ staging

1.       Director:  A director’s job is to over look, manage, organize a program or a project and is in charge of everything.
2.       Producer: A producer’s job is to produce; the producer overlooks the whole process including co coordinating and supervising matters such as fund raising.
3.       Designer: A designer is a person who creates, there are different kinds of designers like set designers who create and decorate the set and costume designers who make costumes and props.
4.       Lighting designer:  A lighting designer is there to direct light at the right times on a set when needed.
5.       Musical director: A musical director is someone who directs music in a play or a film; they may also create the music themselves making different music for different scenes or plays.
6.       Stage manager: A stage manager role is to organize and conduct a theatrical production; it is his job also to make sure that he communicates with the back sage crew, actors and the director.
7.       Stage crew: The stage crew is a group of workers who work backstage and help out from opening and closing curtains to moving scenery and are usually there to provide help with the little things that are included in the play.
8.       Choreographer: A choreographer is someone who helps and organizes the actors before a play this might include acting lessons or dancing lessons.
9.       Prop master: A prop master is responsible for the creating and organizing a prop for a pacific play or musical.
10.   Dresser / wardrobe assistant: This is someone who helps dress the actors and also chooses their clothes for them for pacific moments of a play.
11.   Publicist: A publicists job is to generate publicity for a certain play or musical by advertising it and attracting the audience to the play.

Client meeting

Our client was Mrs. Jones who was also the director and producer of the play; she was overlooking our progress we had made so far in creating the play. We presented her all our research and work we had produced so far to give her an idea on what we were developing. She told us that our posters were to plain and suggested we make one as a group and join our ideas together. Overall she gave us positive feedback on our work and gave us ideas on how to expand on it. It was very important to discuss the progress with our client incase of any problems and so we could take her advice on how to improve our work for the play and how to make the play better for the audience.

Staging types


Proscenium arch stage
The proscenium arch stage is an old traditional stage which often has decorative architecture. The stage” proscenium arch” in Latin means in front of the scenery as all the audience watch from the front. This stage is used for a lot of different acts like drama, plays, concerts and musicals

Thrust stage
The thrust stage is a modern stage then the proscenium arch and has the advantage of greater intimacy between audiences and performers. A thrust stage extends into the audience from three sides which mean the audiences have great views from every angle, which also may generate a better atmosphere.  The thrust stage is also used for drama plays but also displays exhibitions and fashion shows.

In –the -round stage
The in the round stage has contemporary staging which  makes the audiences feel that they are part of the play as they completely surround the play. This also can create an intimidating atmosphere for the actors as the audience is so close to you. The in the round stage has very flexible uses as it can host classical/ rock concerts, exhibitions, TV shows, presentations and conferences.

Mood board evaluation

A mood board is a collage of pictures based on one topic. A mood board consists of visual images on a certain topic and is mainly used by designers to help them get an idea on what they are looking for. When I made my mood board it was based on the movie the little shop of horrors. I had to do a lot of research on scary looking plants, to do this I went on google and wrote a lot of different key words to help me find the right images like “scary plants” “little shop of horrors plants”” monster plants” and many others. These key words helped me find the right images for my mood board and made my mood board stand out and look good. After I did my mood board it helped me and my colleagues to design the set we were making of the play on the little shop of horrors as we created a huge scary plant just like the one in the movie. Using a mood board helped me a lot and is useful for anyone researching anything.

1950 New York moodboard
After watching the musical "The little shop of horrors" we had to produce a 1950s New York based moodboard. we had to research about New York and view images on how it use to look back in the 1950s. We had to do this as the little shop of horrors was based in the 1950s so making a moodboard was essential for our preparation and helped us design our model sets.


We are making a play based on the sketch the little shop of horrors and we are all separated in groups doing different things and my job is graphic design. I will be researching posters, scary plants and typefaces linked with the little shop of horrors and I also have to design a poster of my own, I will be doing this by using Photoshop to make my poster look more professional and appealing to people as the posters will attract the viewers. We as a class have been split up into groups and are all doing different things, we are doing all this as our school is creating the play “Little shop of horrors” and we have to make the props for it. I found this very interesting as I have never done set design before and have learnt a lot of new things and now know how stressful it can be organising a play. I believe I also gained a lot of new skills by working in a group it helped me develop my communication and listening skills and also how working in a group means working together at all times.