Colors, textures, layouts and props can greatly alter a film’s success. Production designers and art directors can have a big impact in this regard, enhancing the story through set design, props, mechanical effects, scene painting and décor. You can learn it all in the Production Design and Visual Effects program at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. And with the variety of films produced at the school, you will have ample opportunities to explore genres and techniques to build a professional portfolio to launch you into a career with a production design degree.
Filmmaking is a collaborative art, so students in the School of Filmmaking are all required to take a core set of classes to build a solid understanding of all filmmaking elements. Classes in your first year will cover the fundamentals of production design, screenwriting, directing, producing, picture editing, sound design and cinematography, along with liberal arts classes. As part of your degree, you will take liberal arts courses. At the end of your first year, faculty will review your portfolio to grant acceptance into the Production Design and Visual Effects degree program.
In your second year you will be exposed to the technical and artistic skills required in production design. Classes will cover basic digital design, drafting, sketching and perspective drawing. You will learn how to discern a film’s creative requirements, identifying and addressing both the logistic and creative concerns that may arise. An Art Direction Workshop will walk you through the process of moving a design from concept to completion on a professional film production, covering set decoration, architectural styles, furnishings, and exercises in drawing, modeling and rendering.
Your third year will consist of more advanced classes in production design and visual effects, covering topics such as computer-generated imagery (CGI) and color rendering in order to better communicate with other departments. The third-year Art Direction Workshop will build on your second-year practical skillset, and introduce new concepts such as taking into consideration the camera and lenses used for filming in your designs. You will also be required to take art electives in cinema studies, life drawing or decorative finishes. A Production Design Practicum will give you the role of serving as the Art Director for the year-three film projects. You will oversee all aspects of the art department, scheduling, budgeting, script breakdown, set design, set and location decoration, construction, finishing and strike.
Your conceptual skills as a production designer will be emphasized in your final year as you screen and analyze major motion pictures, teleconferencing with industry professionals on occasion, and learning the broad variety of styles of residential decoration. Arts electives in cinema studies, life drawing or decorative finishes will be offered. You will build upon your conceptual, technical and procedural skills in your Art Direction Workshop, culminating in a professional digital portfolio. You will also be promoted to Production Design on the year-four student film productions, and act as peer-counsel to the year-three art directors.
Graduates of the Production Design Visual Effects program have started careers as Production Designers, Set Designers and Art Directors for television series such as “Eastbound and Down,” “Under the Dome” and “South Park,” and for major motion pictures like “Mud,” “We’re the Millers,” “Vacation” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”
Work hard to maintain relationships, advises Filmmaking alumna Jubilate Cox. They're valuable for finding new work and for forming lasting friendships.
Nathan Krochmal is blazing a trail through the professional film world in a place that's known to some as the "Wild West" of filmmaking. No, it's not Los Angeles or New York - it's Atlanta - and for the talented 2014 UNCSA graduate, it's a land of opportunity.