Set Decorator: Job Description and Salary

Set Decorator Job Description: A set decorator is a creative professional who is responsible for designing and arranging the sets used in film, television, theater, and other productions. They work closely with production designers, directors, and other members of the art department to create the desired visual atmosphere and bring the script to life. Their job involves researching, sourcing, and acquiring props, furniture, artwork, and other elements to enhance the set design. They also collaborate with the costume department to ensure a cohesive aesthetic. Set decorators must have a keen eye for detail, strong organizational skills, and the ability to work within a budget. They may be required to coordinate with various vendors, negotiate prices, and manage the set decoration team. Overall, set decorators play a crucial role in creating immersive and authentic environments that enhance the storytelling experience.

Set Decorator Salary: The salary of a set decorator can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and the scale of the production. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for set and exhibit designers, which includes set decorators, was $56,040 as of May 2020. However, it is important to note that this figure can be higher or lower depending on individual circumstances. Set decorators working on large-scale productions or in major film and television markets may earn higher salaries compared to those working on smaller projects or in regional areas. Additionally, experienced set decorators may have the opportunity to negotiate higher rates based on their reputation and portfolio. Freelance set decorators also have the potential to earn more by working on multiple projects simultaneously.

Set Decorator Salary and Job Description

Set Decorator Job Description Template

Set Decorator Job Description

A set decorator is a professional responsible for designing and creating the visual appearance of sets for various productions, such as films, television shows, theater performances, and events. They work closely with the production designer and art director to bring the desired aesthetic and atmosphere to life.

The primary role of a set decorator is to select and source all the necessary props, furniture, artwork, and other decorative elements for a set. They carefully choose items that align with the overall design concept and effectively convey the desired time period, location, and mood. Additionally, set decorators are in charge of coordinating the acquisition, rental, and return of all the items used on set.

Set decorators also collaborate with the lighting and cinematography teams to ensure that the set design complements the desired lighting and camera angles. They work closely with the director and other key stakeholders to understand their vision and translate it into a tangible set design.

Attention to detail and strong organizational skills are crucial for set decorators, as they must manage budgets, keep track of all the items used on set, and maintain accurate records of expenses. They also need to stay updated on current design trends and possess strong research and negotiation skills.

In summary, a set decorator plays a vital role in creating the visual world of a production. They possess a keen eye for design, excellent coordination skills, and a deep understanding of the creative vision for a project.

Set Decorator Responsibilities

  • Selecting and sourcing furniture, props, and other decorative items for a film or television set
  • Collaborating with the production designer and director to understand the vision and requirements for the set
  • Researching and studying the time period, location, and theme of the production to ensure accurate set decoration
  • Creating budgets and managing expenses for set decoration
  • Working with a team of set dressers and prop masters to properly place and arrange the set items
  • Coordinating with the art department to ensure continuity in set design and decoration
  • Overseeing the set decoration during filming or production, making adjustments as necessary
  • Communicating and collaborating with other departments, such as lighting and camera, to ensure the set is properly prepared for shooting
  • Maintaining inventory and organizing storage of set decoration items for future use
  • Ensuring the safety and functionality of set decoration items, such as securing heavy furniture or creating faux versions of dangerous items
  • Set Decorator Requirements

  • A strong aesthetic sense and creative flair
  • Knowledge of design principles, color theory, and spatial awareness
  • Ability to work within a budget and meet deadlines
  • Good communication and organization skills
  • Attention to detail and ability to work well under pressure
  • Knowledge of different decorating styles and trends
  • Ability to source and select furniture, fabrics, accessories, and props
  • Knowledge of construction and building materials
  • Ability to collaborate and work well with a team
  • Flexibility and adaptability to changing project requirements
  • How Much Does A Set Decorator Make?

    Set Decorator Salary

    Experience Level Average Annual Salary
    Entry Level $35,000 – $45,000
    Mid-Career $45,000 – $65,000
    Experienced $65,000 – $85,000
    Senior $85,000 – $100,000+

    A Set Decorator is responsible for designing and creating the visual atmosphere on film and television sets. They work closely with production designers and art directors to bring the desired look and feel to the set. The salary of a Set Decorator varies depending on their experience level. Entry-level Set Decorators can expect to earn an average annual salary of $35,000 to $45,000. As they gain more experience and move into mid-career positions, their salary can increase to $45,000 to $65,000. Experienced Set Decorators, who have been working in the industry for a significant amount of time, can earn $65,000 to $85,000 per year. Senior Set Decorators, who have reached the highest level of experience and expertise, can earn $85,000 to $100,000 or more annually.

    Set Decorator Salaries by Country

    Top Paying Countries for Set Decorator

    Country Average Salary (USD)
    United States $60,000
    United Kingdom $40,000
    Australia $35,000
    Canada $30,000
    Germany $28,000

    Set decorators are essential in creating the visual atmosphere and aesthetics of film and television productions. They are responsible for selecting and arranging props, furniture, and other set elements to enhance the overall look and feel of a scene. Salaries for set decorators can vary significantly depending on the country and the production’s budget. According to industry data, the United States offers the highest average salary for set decorators, with an average of $60,000 per year. The United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Germany also provide competitive salaries ranging from $28,000 to $40,000. These figures may fluctuate depending on factors such as experience, location, and the scale of the production.

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    Interview Questions for Set Decorator

    1. What is the role of a Set Decorator?

    A Set Decorator is responsible for designing and implementing the visual appearance of a film or television set. They work closely with the production designer and director to create the desired atmosphere and mood for each scene.

    2. What skills are necessary to become a successful Set Decorator?

    Successful Set Decorators need to have a strong sense of design, color, and composition. They should have excellent communication and collaboration skills to effectively work with the production team. Attention to detail, creativity, and the ability to work within budget constraints are also important.

    3. How do you approach the process of selecting props and set pieces?

    I start by thoroughly reading the script and discussing the director’s vision for each scene. I then research and gather inspiration to develop a concept and color palette. Next, I source props and set pieces that fit the desired aesthetic, keeping in mind the characters’ personalities and the time period of the story.

    4. Can you give an example of a challenging set decoration project you have worked on?

    One challenging project I worked on was a period film set in the 1920s. The budget was tight, and finding authentic props and set pieces within the limited resources was a difficult task. However, through extensive research and creativity, I was able to source unique items and create a visually stunning set that accurately represented the time period.

    5. How do you collaborate with other members of the production team?

    I collaborate closely with the production designer, director, and cinematographer to ensure that the set decoration aligns with the overall vision of the project. We have regular meetings to discuss ideas, share references, and make decisions together. It’s important to maintain open communication and be flexible to accommodate any changes or adjustments that may arise during the production process.

    6. What role does budget play in your work as a Set Decorator?

    Budget is a crucial aspect of set decoration. I always strive to create visually stunning sets while staying within the allocated budget. This requires careful planning, resourcefulness, and the ability to prioritize essential elements. I negotiate prices with vendors and sometimes repurpose or modify existing items to save costs without compromising the desired look.

    7. How do you stay updated on current design trends and styles?

    As a Set Decorator, it’s important to stay updated on current design trends and styles. I regularly attend industry events, read design magazines, and follow online platforms that showcase the latest trends in interior design and set decoration. I also draw inspiration from art exhibitions, historical references, and other creative industries to keep my ideas fresh and innovative.

    8. Can you discuss the importance of continuity in set decoration?

    Continuity is vital in set decoration to maintain consistency throughout the film or television production. It ensures that the visual elements, such as props, furniture, and set pieces, remain consistent from scene to scene, regardless of different shooting days. This attention to detail helps to create a seamless viewing experience for the audience.

    9. How do you handle unexpected challenges or changes during a production?

    During a production, unexpected challenges and changes are bound to arise. It’s important to remain calm and adaptable in such situations. I quickly assess the situation, brainstorm alternative solutions, and collaborate with the production team to find the best course of action. Flexibility and problem-solving skills are key to overcoming these challenges without compromising the overall vision.

    10. Can you describe a project where you had to work under tight deadlines?

    I once worked on a television series where we had to design and decorate multiple sets within a short timeframe. The tight deadlines required efficient coordination and organization. I created a detailed schedule, prioritized tasks, and worked closely with a dedicated team to ensure everything was completed on time. Effective time management and teamwork were crucial in successfully delivering the project.

    The Best Universities For The Set Decorator Profession.

    • University of Southern California (USC)
    • New York University (NYU)
    • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
    • London Film School
    • Royal College of Art (RCA)
    • University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC)
    • Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)
    • California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)
    • Chapman University
    • American Film Institute (AFI)

    Frequently asked questions about Set Decorator

    What is the role of a Set Decorator?

    A Set Decorator is responsible for designing and arranging the set elements, including furniture, props, and artwork, to create the desired atmosphere and visual aesthetic for a film or television production. They work closely with the production designer and director to bring the script and vision to life through the set design. The Set Decorator selects and sources all the necessary props and furniture, ensuring they align with the overall design concept and the characters’ personalities and traits. They also coordinate with other departments, such as the art department and costume department, to ensure a cohesive visual style throughout the production.

    What skills are required to become a Set Decorator?

    Becoming a Set Decorator requires a combination of creative and practical skills. Some essential skills for this role include a strong eye for design and detail, excellent communication and collaboration skills, the ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines, and a deep understanding of color theory, spatial composition, and historical periods/styles. Set Decorators should also be proficient in research and sourcing, as they often need to find unique and authentic props and furniture to fit the production’s needs.

    What is the difference between a Set Decorator and a Production Designer?

    While both roles contribute to the overall visual design of a production, there are distinct differences between a Set Decorator and a Production Designer. A Set Decorator focuses primarily on the selection and arrangement of props, furniture, and artwork within the set. They work closely with the Production Designer to ensure the set design aligns with the overall vision. On the other hand, the Production Designer is responsible for the overall visual concept and aesthetic of the production. They oversee all aspects of the art department, including set design, costume design, and visual effects, and work closely with the director to bring their creative vision to life.

    How does a Set Decorator source props and furniture?

    Set Decorators source props and furniture through a variety of methods. They may visit antique shops, thrift stores, and specialty prop houses to find unique and authentic items that fit the production’s needs. They also have connections with vendors, artisans, and rental companies that specialize in providing props and furniture for film and television productions. Additionally, Set Decorators may collaborate with the art department to create custom-made props or modify existing items to fit the desired aesthetic. Research and networking play a crucial role in finding the right props and furniture for each production.

    What is the typical workflow of a Set Decorator?

    The workflow of a Set Decorator involves several stages. Firstly, they thoroughly read and analyze the script to understand the visual requirements of each scene and the characters’ personalities. They then collaborate with the production designer and director to develop a cohesive design concept and create mood boards or sketches to illustrate their ideas. Once the design concept is approved, the Set Decorator begins sourcing and acquiring the necessary props and furniture. They carefully curate each item, considering the character’s traits, historical accuracy, and design aesthetics. During the production, Set Decorators work closely with the set dressers and other departments to install and arrange the set elements, ensuring everything is in place for filming. After the production wraps, Set Decorators oversee the removal and storage of the set elements, documenting and organizing them for potential future use or reference.

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