Film Set Design: Top Facts

Lights, camera, action; the world of film seems so glamorous and exciting doesn’t it? From the enticing stories, the incredible acting (not to mention those good looking actors) to the special effects and incredible sets; an amazing amount of effort is put in to make some of the films we see today.

Whether an action movie, drama, romance or horror; making stories come to life requires a great deal of effort from a huge team, none more so than the design team. Whether here in the UK, or across the pond in the US; design companies everywhere play a crucial part in ensuring ideas and the images put on paper come to life in the best way possible.

From the barbershop where the lead actor gets his haircut, to the streets where the plot twist murder occurs to the creaky basement where the serial killer conducts his worst crimes; the right set can help bring everything together and make something seemingly ‘non-existent’ seem very real.

Wondering just what it takes to be a film set designer? Curious as to how ideas can come to life? Below are a few of the crucial facts that can help you get a better understanding of this exciting industry…


    • It’s not just about being able to build; set designers have to be able to truly define the purpose of a set. In order to do this it is important to determine whether a specific character belongs to the room and the level of importance that the set plays in the to the story on a whole.
    • Whether a historical time period, a distinctive atmosphere or a very particular location; a set should be designed to create a unique atmosphere.
    • One important skill that a designer must possess is being able to understand and analyse a script. Whether it is the crucial moment two characters meet or the location where the crux of the story begins; a script will offer brief insights that a designer must be able to interpret and build upon.
    • There is no defined way of how a set is designed however generally speaking a designer will often begin by drawing up a rough sketch which is followed by the development of scaled floor plans and then a 3D model before the actual building begins!
  • The majority of designers are considered all round artistic people so will actively be involved in every part of creating a set. From working with script writers to establish the idea, to initial drawings, 3D models and final building; to be able to design a film set you really do have to be incredibly artistic.


The film world is indeed glamorous but to bring all the pieces of the puzzle together it takes a great deal of time and effort and a lot of know-how and that’s where the best film set designers come in!

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