Absolute Beginners: Practical Skills for Getting a Start in the Art Dept.

New Dates TBC!

Absolute Beginners: Practical Skills for Getting a Start in the Art Dept.

Date: (awaiting dates)

Duration: 6 days
Times: 10am - approx. 6pm
Capacity: Max. 9 participants

Following the success of our inaugural Absolute Beginners intensive introduction to getting started in the Art Department, this condensed 6-day course is aimed at beginners looking to break into the field of production design.

Nine participants will get a grounding in the essential and indispensable elements needed to start work in a professional Art Department in Film and Television:

  • Introduction to the structure of the Art Department
  • How to read a script and break it down into Art Department elements
  • Understanding a shooting schedule
  • Basic drafting and using scale
  • Model Making
  • Location Surveying

You’ll also gain a vital insight into how an Art Department is organised and how it relates to all the other departments on a Film or TV production through actual case studies.

This is an exciting and intense six days of pure practical experience and revelation. Under Fleur Whitlock’s guidance, each participant will receive the one-to-one assistance they need to make the most of their time at LFS. 

Fleur Whitlock is an art director and production designer with nearly 30 years' experience at all levels of film & TV. Her recent TV credits include: EPISODES, THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD and the upcoming Channel 4 drama ADULT MATERIAL. Her feature film credits are extensive and include: 10, 000 BC, THE LIBERTINE and the Crystal Bear winner, BUTTERFLY KISSES.

Drawing boards image

COURSE OUTLINE

1. INTRODUCTION TO THE ART DEPARTMENT

The Art Department is the biggest department on a production and interacts very closely with all other departments.  This introduction will explain who works in it, how it works and how it relates to a film unit.

2. SCRIPT BREAKDOWNS

Breaking a script into its components is a discipline which every member of the art department needs to know.  Working from an actual, produced script, 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 the script.

3. FILMING SCHEDULES

Once the script is broken down, the participants will then be shown how the filming schedule affects the Art Department and how to prioritise the filming requirements.

4. DRAFTING

Everyone working in the Art Department needs to be able to read a set of scenic plans. This element of the course will be devoted to understanding scale and the fundamentals of hand drafting to allow you to draw a simple set from a designer’s sketch. Reading a technical drawing is a language that needs to be learnt.

5. MODEL MAKING

Making a model of a studio set or location build is the second basic skill that is required. From the plans you have drawn up, Fleur will explain the techniques of white card model making. This will enable you to build an industry standard, professionally finished presentation model.

6. LOCATION SURVEYING

This is one of the first big jobs an Art Dept junior will be asked to do. Location surveying is the process of “measuring up" a potential location, then preparing and presenting a legible drawing to scale. Participants will spend time surveying a given space with all its irregularities and learn how to observe and collate the data. This will enable them to make a plan with all the vital information about the location.

Model making


This course is listed on the ScreenSkills Skills Passport, supported by the ScreenSkills HETV Bursary. You may be eligible for support of up-to £1000 to continue your proffesional training. Visit the ScreenSkills Bursaries page for more information. 

Tutor profile: Fleur Whitlock, Production Designer & Art Director

Fleur Whitlock's workshops at LFS

Further information:

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Fleur Whitlock is an art director and production designer with nearly thirty years experience at all levels of the film and TV industry including some well-respected TV series such as INSPECTOR MORSE, LOVE HURTS, KAVANAGH QC, THE LAKES, RUTH RENDELL MYSTERIES and POIROT. She designed over 40 episodes of the popular police series THE BILL.

Fleur has worked around the world on a variety of productions including the BBC drama documentary series DISCOVERING ANCIENT EGYPT filmed entirely on location in Egypt and KROD MANDOON & THE FLAMING SWORD OF FIRE shot in Budapest for Comedy Central. Perhaps her most challenging foreign assignment was to design a domestically produced soap opera in Kazakhstan (PEREKRESTOK) modelled on the BBC’s ‘EastEnders’!

Her feature film experience is extensive and includes such diverse productions as CHURCHILL: THE HOLLYWOOD YEARS directed by Comic Strip creator Peter Richardson, LOVE & DEATH ON LONG ISLAND (starring John Hurt & Jason Priestly), an adaptation of HEIDI (starring Max von Sydow) shot in Slovenia and the epic 10,000BC directed by Roland Emmerich filmed in South Africa and Namibia. As Supervising Art Director on THE LIBERTINE (starring Jonny Depp, Samantha Morton and John Malkovich) she was responsible for the recreation of a 17th Century Restoration theatre and many period sets on location.

In recent years, Fleur has collaborated with Grenville Horner on adaptations of OLIVER TWIST and WUTHERING HEIGHTS for the BBC directed by Coky Giedroyc; comedy series REV and EPISODES (starring Matt Le Blanc); drama series JEKYLL written by Stephen Moffat and Kay Mellor’s contemporary drama THE SYNDICATE. Fleur and Grenville co-designed HARRY HILL: THE MOVIE, a surreal and anarchic road trip with comedian Harry Hill and his pet hamster...

Her recent projects couldn’t be more different: a pilot for AMC about an 18th Century surgeon (KNIFEMAN), a feature length drama for BBC about the televising of the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961 (THE EICHMANN SHOW), the dramatised biography of comedian Lenny Henry set in 1970s Birmingham (DANNY & THE HUMAN ZOO) and the just completed two-part original drama MAN IN AN ORANGE SHIRT scripted by novelist Patrick Gale.

Fleur regularly runs Production Design modules at the London Film School and has taught technical drawing at Wimbledon School of Art. In 2014, she was one of the ‘experts’ taking part in the first Art Department Masterclass workshops held in Vilnius, Lithuania.