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Art director (film, television, stage)

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Summary of occupation

​Art directors work in consultation with directors and producers to interpret scripts and organise and develop the artistic aspects of film, television or stage productions. They are responsible for creating the look, atmosphere and feel of the production. They are involved in the overall production design and often supervise the team of artists and craftspeople who work to build and create visual and special effects, props, costumes, settings and backgrounds used in the production.

ANZSCO description: Plans, organises and controls artistic aspects of film, television or stage productions. This occupation requires high levels of creative talent or personal commitment and interest as well as, or in place of, formal qualifications and experience.
Alternative names: Production designer
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

An art director needs:

  • a high level of creative talent
  • good communication skills
  • excellent organisational and time management skills
  • strong leadership and motivational abilities
  • the ability to coordinate the work of large groups of people
  • the ability to work both independently and within a team.
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Working conditions

​Art directors work in film and television studios, theatres and other performance spaces, and on sets at specific locations. They work long hours, often until late, and may be required to work on weekends or public holidays. They may be required to travel locally, across the State, interstate or overseas to shoot on location.

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Salary details

On average, art directors, classified under film, television, radio and stage directors, can expect to earn $1 618 per week ($84 120 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As an art director develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

Many art directors work on a freelance basis and run their own small business. Earnings will depend on the level of demand for their services, as well as their level of skill and experience.

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Tools and technologies

​Art directors may use mobile phones and laptop computers to coordinate a wide range of people involved in the production process. They also use computers to set and monitor budgets, and plan schedules. They may sketch or paint design ideas or use creative software programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign to produce designs or storyboards to convey their concepts.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

​To become an art director, you usually need to complete a VET qualification or degree in screen and media, film, video or television, or other related area. These courses are widely available at TAFE colleges and universities throughout Western Australia. Contact the training providers or universities you are interested in for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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