Six Production Design Essentials: Intensive 2-Week Programme

New Dates TBC!

Six Production Design Essentials: Intensive 2-Week Programme

Date: (awaiting dates)

Duration: 2 weeks (1 day off)
Times: 10am - approx. 6pm
Capacity: Max. 9 participants
Fee: £2,000 

When work is scarce, adaptability is key. This series of six production design workshops with experienced Art Director David McHenry (GAME OF THRONES, BLACK SAILS, OUTLANDER, JOHN WICK 3) is aimed at those with some design experience, but who are wishing to improve, maintain and adapt their skills in the Art Department. 

The courses are interlinked, with the aim of developing abilities and craft in the key areas of: 

  • Basic Drafting
  • Location Surveys
  • Model Making
  • Lens Angles, Aspect Ratios & Lens Projections
  • Script Breakdowns
  • Storyboarding

The six workshops, or 'modules', are offered as one continuous, intensive 2-week programme. Participants are required to sign up for the whole two weeks and to attend all six workshops in the programme. An organic process of learning will allow each participant to work entirely at his or her own pace within each module. Under David McHenry’s guidance, each participant will receive the one-to-one assistance they need in each area to make the most of their time with us.  

Click here to read a more detailed introduction by David McHenry. Click here to watch a video featuring David teaching.

Drawing boards image

The Modules in Detail 

1. Basic Drafting 

Basic drafting is the most important skill for anyone working within the art department; master this, and everything else will fall into place. Even if you don’t intend to be a draughtsman these core skills are necessary across the whole of the department. 

Participants will spend the first two days of the course working from authentic plans to produce elevation drawings, exploring the logic of how plans/elevations are laid out and examine the process of what is truly required. Everyone will have their own style; David will work with participants individually. 

Topics covered include: 

  • Scaling
  • Basic geometry
  • Elementary notations
  • How doors, fireplaces etc. are represented

At the end of the two days participants will have a thorough understanding of the basic tools needed to continue drafting by themselves. 

2. Location Surveys 

As a member of the art department you will be expected to complete a location survey by yourself – a key document that provides every department with a comprehensive look at the environment in which they’ll be filming. This may seem like a daunting process. However, this 2-day workshop leads participants step-by-step through the entire process to give the necessary skills and techniques to complete a location survey by themselves.

This second module will present the procedures of a real-life production as authentically as possible. Participants will begin by visiting a centrally-based location (we usually use an area of the London Coliseum) where David will guide participants through a definite checklist of information that they must accurately collect – height of ceilings, the direction doors, etc. 

Participants will then translate these location notes away from the site and draw up location plans and elevation designs. At a later point in the course, the participants will re-visit the location to see how accurate their plans are!

3. Model Making 

Model making

Following on from the skills developed on the basic drafting and location surveys, this workshop explores another of the valuable tools to work across multi-disciplines within the art department. 

Using participant’s plans from the previous workshops, David will introduce the methods and principles of using rough notes to build 3D models which can be used in presentations and for discussions with other departments, such as lighting plans with the DOP, camera moves with the director, etc. 

If participants finish their initial models, David will encourage them to expand this knowledge and work on more complex designs.

4. Lens Angles, Aspect Ratios and Lens Projections 

Understanding what the camera will see/capture is imperative to the work of the art department. This workshop explores the different aspect ratios and their uses, and teaches participants how to work out what the camera sees. 

David will aid participants in creating their own templates which can be used on future productions. 

5. Script Breakdowns

Script Breakdown

Breaking a script into its components is a discipline which every member of the art department needs to know. 

Using a script which David McHenry has worked on in the past, this module will lead participants through the process of examining a script from the perspective of the art department. Participants will be taught standard industry practices and introduced to asking the right questions to allow them to pull all the necessary information from between the lines of the script. 

David will show participants what they should be looking for in a script - from the smallest details to the biggest sets - and then he will demonstrate how to schedule these requirements and how to budget them.

6. Storyboarding 

Anyone in the art department may be asked to quickly sketch a storyboard. This final workshop in the programme is designed to give participants the basic skills needed to translate a director’s requirements and accurately represent them in a storyboard. 

After being introduced to the basic techniques through warm up exercises and analysing the terminology and what certain shots give you, the two days will be spent creating detailed storyboards for a complete film sequence. Using a professional script and with David acting out the role of the production’s director, participants will explore how to look at a script and break it down into visual images. 

This workshop demands some basic drawing/sketching skills, and builds on the techniques introduced in the Lens Angles module.

Tutor profile: David McHenry, Production Designer / Art Director

David McHenry has over 35 years' experience in film and television as a production designer, art director and draughtsman. His TV credits are extensive and include Neil Gaiman's THE SANDMAN, OUTLANDER, BLACK SAILS, Peter Kosminsky's THE STATE, INSPECTOR MORSE and GAME OF THRONES. His work in feature films includes LOVE AND DEATH ON LONG ISLAND, JACKBOOTS ON WHITEHALL, JOHN WICK 3, DREDD, RUSH and Ridley Scott's upcoming Napoleon Bonaparte epic. 

Drawing the Line, Technical Hand Drafting for Film  and Television
David McHenry has compiled his knowledge into an essential resource for aspiring professionals studying and working in film and TV design. The book covers all aspects of scenic drafting by hand – a technique still used because of its unparalleled emotive and aesthetic qualities. Order your copy on Amazon!