Advancing Your Career in the Art Department for Film

Duration: 23rd January - 20th February, 2021 (5 Saturday Sessions)
Times: 10am - 4pm
Capacity: Max. 12 participants
Level: Intermediate
Tutor: Fleur Whitlock and guest speakers
Fee: Free
Application Deadline: January 4th, 2021
This course is supported by the ScreenSkills Film Skills Fund with contributions from UK film productions. ScreenSkills is the industry-led skills body for the UK’s screen industries.

Please note: This is a selective programme, applicants must show a genuine interest in this area and be committed to pursuing career progression in the art department. 



Advancing Your Career in the Art Department for Film is a programme of online workshops providing in-depth tutoring of the essential skills needed to step up from experienced Assistant to Art Director. The course will give you a real insight into the role of Art Director and the responsibilities it demands. 
The project will take place on Zoom on consecutive Saturdays beginning in January 2021. There will be assignments to complete after each session, so full engagement and commitment to the programme is required.
Upon completion of this programme, you will: 
  • Have a better understanding of how to progress in the industry and how best to present your skills and experience;
  • Gain real insight into the role of Art Director and understand the responsibilities it demands;
  • Have a better understanding of the practical and professional skills needed to work as an Art Director;
  • Have learned useful tools for mental health and wellbeing;
  • Have received bespoke advice from industry professionals;
  • Have added to your portfolio;
  • Come away with useful industry contacts.


People enter the art department with a variety of skills and backgrounds: some people have been to art school or studied as architects, others may have learned their trade on building sites or at the theatre. For this course we are looking for experienced Assistant Art Directors wanting to step-up, and stand-bys who are looking to transition to Art Director. This course is open to anyone who has the right to work in the screen industry in the UK. Applicants should show real drive and an interest in career progression.

We particularly encourage applications from women, Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) and disabled candidates, as these groups are underrepresented throughout the screen industries.

Script Breakdown



This introductory session is for you to get to know your fellow course mates and lead tutor Fleur Whitlock. Fleur will present an in-depth look at the role and expectation of the Art Director and the relationships on set. Specifically:

  • Recap how a film production works, which includes an overview of production budgets and how they relate to the art department
  • Lines of communication and responsibilities of the Art Director
  • Where to find crew and how contracts work

You will have the chance to share where you're at in your careers and what skills you can learn to advance to the next step. You will also hear from an Art Director who recently made the step-up.


The Art Director is responsible for crewing up and communicates the vision of the Production Designer to the rest of the department. In this session, you will learn more about the working relationships of the Art Director. Using a professional script, you will learn how the Art Director works with other HODs and departments. Specifically:

  • Look at how the Art Director manages key on-set relationships including: set dressing, action props, action vehicles & animals, SFX & stunts and construction
  • How to anticipate scheduling within the art department before the shooting schedule is issued, considering lead time for set builds, special makes etc.
  • Look at construction requirements in studio and on location, identify key sets that will be builds & start estimating budgets

You will hear from an SFX Supervisor who will outline the working relationship with the Art Director.


Budgeting and Scheduling are big responsibilities of the Art Director. Analysing all the art department requirements is the first step to making an informed estimate of what will be required from the team and other contractors. This session will cover the process of working with a shooting schedule, making informed estimates of costs and running the budget during production. Specifically:

  • A detailed budget breakdown, budget overages and the impact of schedule changes
  • Costing a build and the importance of technical drawings
  • Look at construction requirements in detail and logistics of preparing a set 

In addition to a SketchUp/LayOut Tutorial, you will hear from a Construction Manager. 


This session will examine the responsibilities of the Art Director when it comes to health and safety on set. It will cover specific hazards you may encounter within the department and how to assess and control risks. It will also go over risk reporting and how productions are managing COVID. There will be a section of the session devoted to mental health, wellbeing and resilience on-set. Specifically:

  • Working hours, set & strike schedule, day-to-day logistics (call sheets), liaising with the Stand-by Art Director, COVID protocols
  • Sustainability and ‘green’ approach to set builds
  • Mental health, stress, dealing with bullying and intimidation
  • Doing your deal, additional rates (car, kit, phone, overtime) and looking after the art department crew
  • Industry support, BECTU, networking 

This will be the last group session, so it's your chance to ask any outstanding questions.

5. WRAP-UP 1-to-1s

The final sessions will allow you to sit down 1-to-1 with Fleur Whitlock to discuss the programme and your next steps. The group will be split up across two sessions.  


Although the course is now finished we will invite all participants back for a follow-up session to make sure we track your progress into the industry.  We will invite speakers from the Art Department to take part and you will be able to ask any questions you have. Get career tips and advice from working HODs!


Before applying, please prepare all materials in advance (including your CV). You will NOT be able to save your application part way through and come back to it later. There will be substantial homework assignments to complete after each session, so full engagement and commitment are required. Successful applicants will also be required to create a profile on the ScreenSkills website in order to confirm a place on the course.

If you have any questions please email LFS Workshops:

*Applications for this programme are closed.

Tutor Profile: Fleur Whitlock, Production Designer & Art Director

Fleur Whitlock is an art director & production designer with 30 years' experience at all levels of film & TV. Her recent TV credits include: ADULT MATERIAL, THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD and TURN UP CHARLIE. Her feature film credits are extensive and include: 10, 000 BC, CHURCHILL: THE HOLLYWOOD YEARS and THE LIBERTINE. Fleur also regularly runs training courses in the UK and abroad. Her full credits can be found on IMDb.