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

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

Sat, 13 Apr 2024 to Thu, 18 Apr 2024

Duration: 6 days
Times: 10am-6pm
Capacity: Max. 9 participants 
Fee: £1000 (includes all equipment)

This 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 Rebecca Morton guidance, each participant will receive the one-to-one assistance they need to make the most of their time at LFS. 

Drawing boards image



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.


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.


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.


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.


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, the tutor will explain the techniques of white card model making. This will enable you to build an industry standard, professionally finished presentation model.


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.


If you lean more towards set decoration, petty cash buying may be the first job you get on a film.  Rebecca will show you how to create a mood board, a prop list, how to prioritize props, the difference between setting and action props. Being able to think on your feet and how not to panic working under pressure.  You will be encouraged to think outside the box and be as resourceful as possible.  

Model making

Tutor profile: Rebecca Morton, Production Designer, Set Decorator, Art Director

Production Designer, Set Decorator, Art Director Rebecca Morton has over 25 years’ experience working in all levels of TV and film. She originally trained in Theatre Design at Wimbledon School of Art and when on to design sets and costumes for various dance and fringe productions. In 1996 Rebecca got her first break in TV becoming the design assistant for Ragdoll Productions’ Teletubbies. She was responsible for building the original card models, technical drawings and concept visuals as well as sourcing suppliers and props ahead of filming the original episodes.

Rebecca then art directed light entertainment shows for London Weekend Television at The London Studios which later became ITV. She worked on live celebrity chat and music shows such as Clive Anderson’s All Talk and Cilla’s Surprise Surprise.

She then spent 6 years as acting series designer for the long running topical daytime show This Morning. She has always regarded this as excellent training in ‘Thinking on your feet’ in a fast-paced live broadcast environment. She thrived designing and realising temporary sets for the latest bands, celebrity chats, cookery, fashion and human interest in as little as a 3-day turnaround.

Rebecca also has designed and styled for a multitude of commercials and charity appeal films including Chelsea FC, Nike, XBOX, The Body Shop, BHF, RNIB, FASD and Sky Arts.

Rebecca has also art directed and set decked for various drama and soaps such as Brothers and Sisters, Family Affairs, EastEnders and Holby City.

In the early 2000s, Rebecca launched a mural business which grew very quickly from painting private homes to entire interiors and exteriors of public buildings, schools and hospitals. She still paints and uses her experience in set design regularly employing other scenic artists and various crew to help her realise her designs. This has now branched into theming educational sensory rooms and workplace corporate clients such as ITV Rebecca has designed a multitude award winning short films. She is now in preproduction for two short films to be shot in France for DrAx productions and a feature film for LonRom Pictures based in Italy and the UK.

Rebecca loves set decorating and buying for all sorts of productions. Last year she worked on a brand new four-part, ninety-minute surreal detective series for Acorn TV and a children’s series for Sky Factual both will be aired this year. Rebecca has been lecturing in film and TV production design for about 15 years at various film schools and universities. She also is often invited to critique student’s films at the London Film School.

Tutor profile: Fleur Whitlock, Production Designer & Art Director

Fleur Whitlock is an art director and production designer with over 30 years' experience at all levels of the film and TV industry. Her most recent credits include THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD, EPISODES, and the Channel 4 drama ADULT MATERIAL. She has also worked on a host of 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...

Other projects couldn’t be more varied: 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 two-part original drama MAN IN AN ORANGE SHIRT scripted by novelist Patrick Gale. Most recently, she designed the Gaelic language drama BANNAN for BBC Alba.

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.