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Reel Opportunities

Art Department Assistant

What does an Art Department Assistant do?

Art Department Assistants help the whole art department, but particularly the Art Director. In a studio, they help dress the set and manage the props, ensuring they are in working order and available when needed.

They also help with styling when the filming is on location, where there might be a very large area needing styling and props. If an Art Department Assistant is experienced, they might be the only person from the art department on location.

Otherwise, much of an assistant’s work is in the preparation before filming. This involves helping with the sourcing and purchasing of materials, as well as the building, painting, and finishing of props. They sometimes design and make props themselves.

Generally, Art Department Assistants are expected to pitch ideas and assist in any way that’s required, from helping transport items and making coffee to filling the gaps of any work that needs doing. On smaller budget studio shows, they might do the work of a Production Assistant alongside their other responsibilities.

What's an Art Department Assistant good at?
  • Art

    Draw conceptually (technical and freehand), work with specialist design software, build props and dress sets

  • Attention to detail

    Have thorough research skills, source correct materials and props, be organized and tidy

  • Knowledge of construction and design

    Research and awareness of the latest developments in production design

  • Knowledge of production

    Understand production techniques, studio environments, studio capabilities, and the challenges of working on location

  • Hard work

    Be able to multitask and meet deadlines

Who does an Art Department Assistant work with?

Art Department Assistants work directly with Art Directors and manage Production Assistants, but they will also work with everyone and anyone in the department, including Production Designers and Buyers.

How do I become an Art Department Assistant?

Build up your skills as an artist. Then try to find work in an entry-level role such as an art department Production Assistant, and work your way up.

Develop a wide range of art skills: Learn how to paint, do 3D modeling and graphic art. The more you can do at this stage, the more chance you have of being useful in the art department later on.

Learn to drive: If possible, get access to a car. This makes you more versatile and means you can help more.

Build a portfolio: This is essential for impressing collaborators and people in the film industry.

More tips

For more tips on finding job opportunities, lists of training programmes, and other great resources, check out our Career Resources page.

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Job Profile Design by Dave Gray. Based on an original concept by Ian Murphy/Allan Burrell.