How to Become a Set Decorator for Film and Television

How to Become a Set Decorator for Film and Television

Are you passionate about design and interested in pursuing a career in the film and television industry? Becoming a set decorator could be the perfect fit for you. In this article, we will delve into the steps you need to take to kickstart your journey towards becoming a successful set decorator. From gaining the necessary skills and experience to networking with industry professionals, we will provide you with all the essential information you need to know. Read on to learn more about how you can become a sought-after set decorator for film and television productions.

Education and Training

When pursuing a career as a set decorator for film and television, it is important to have the right education and training. Here are some steps you can take to enhance your skills in this field:

Obtain a degree in film or a related field

Having a degree in film studies or a related field can provide you with a solid foundation in the principles of filmmaking and set design. Many colleges and universities offer programs specifically tailored to those interested in working behind the scenes in the film and television industry.

Complete internships or on-the-job training

Hands-on experience is invaluable when it comes to learning the ins and outs of set decoration. Look for internships or entry-level positions at production companies, film studios, or with experienced set decorators. This will give you the opportunity to learn from professionals in the field and gain practical skills that can’t be taught in a classroom.

Take specialized courses in set decoration

In addition to a formal education, consider taking specialized courses in set decoration to further hone your skills. These courses may cover topics such as color theory, design principles, prop sourcing, and set dressing techniques. Look for workshops or classes offered by industry professionals or organizations to expand your knowledge and expertise in set decoration.

Developing Skills

Becoming a successful set decorator for film and television requires a combination of skills that can be developed over time. Here are some key skills to focus on:

Attention to detail

One of the most important skills for a set decorator is having a keen eye for detail. Set decorators are responsible for creating the look and feel of a film or television set, and even the smallest details can make a big impact. Paying close attention to colors, textures, and overall aesthetics is crucial in this role.

Creativity and artistic abilities

Set decorators must also possess strong creativity and artistic abilities. They are often tasked with bringing a director’s vision to life through the design of the set. Whether it’s creating a realistic period setting or a futuristic environment, set decorators must be able to think outside the box and come up with innovative design ideas.

Communication and collaboration skills

In addition to technical skills, set decorators must also have strong communication and collaboration skills. They work closely with directors, production designers, and other members of the production team to ensure that the set design aligns with the overall vision of the project. Being able to effectively communicate ideas and work well with others is essential in this role.

Building Experience

Start as a production assistant

Starting out as a production assistant is a common entry point for those looking to become a set decorator in the film and television industry. This role allows you to gain valuable experience on set, understand the dynamics of a production team, and learn about the different departments involved in creating a film or TV show.

Work on independent films or student projects

Working on independent films or student projects can provide you with hands-on experience in set decoration. These projects often have smaller budgets and fewer resources, which means you may have to be more creative and resourceful in finding and creating props and set pieces. This experience can be invaluable in developing your skills and building your portfolio.

Network within the industry

Networking within the industry is key to advancing your career as a set decorator. Attend industry events, film festivals, and workshops to meet other professionals in the field. Building relationships with directors, producers, and other crew members can lead to opportunities for work and collaboration. Additionally, joining professional organizations such as the Set Decorators Society of America can help you connect with other set decorators and stay up to date on industry trends and job opportunities.

Finding Job Opportunities

Join professional organizations

One of the best ways to network and find job opportunities as a set decorator in the film and television industry is by joining professional organizations such as the Set Decorators Society of America (SDSA). These organizations often host events, workshops, and job fairs where you can meet industry professionals and learn about upcoming projects.

Apply for entry-level positions

Another way to break into the industry is by applying for entry-level positions such as production assistant or art department assistant. While these positions may not be directly related to set decorating, they can provide valuable experience and connections that can lead to future opportunities in the field.

Utilize online job boards and social media

In today’s digital age, there are countless job boards and social media platforms where film and television production companies post job openings. Websites like ProductionBeast, StaffMeUp, and Indeed are great resources for finding set decorating job opportunities. Additionally, networking on platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram can help you connect with industry professionals and discover hidden job opportunities.


In conclusion, becoming a set decorator for film and television requires a combination of creativity, attention to detail, and strong communication skills. By gaining experience through internships, networking within the industry, and continuously honing your craft, you can position yourself for success in this competitive field. Additionally, staying up-to-date on industry trends and technology advancements will help you stand out as a top candidate for coveted set decorator positions. With dedication and perseverance, you can turn your passion for design into a fulfilling career bringing stories to life on the big and small screens.