The work of planning film set construction gets underway months before shooting and years before the expected release date. The first step begins with mining the script for details about the setting. The production designer works with the director to determine a look and feel for the film based on the script and their artistic vision. Location managers scout interiors and exteriors that may serve as shooting locations.

The art director oversees the conceptual design of the sets, which can be built from the ground up on a studio backlot or developed in a CGI environment based on the art department’s renderings and the producer’s stated budget.

Learn about the steps in planning your film and where to go for last-mile assistance.

Steps in Planning Film Set Construction

It all begins with research

Research may come down to a production designer or be outsourced to a full-time team who digs up archival photos, architectural renderings, artistic sketches, CAD renderings, and 3D models to help convey the director’s vision. Conceptual artists and cinematographers often help with envisioning color palettes, lighting, and composition of the scenes well before the set is constructed. They’ll need to draw up specific blueprints to bring it to life.

The next step is running big ideas past reality

Producers must then work with production designers to temper the creative department’s ideas with the reality of time, staff, and budget constraints. For example, monetary considerations may dictate whether a film is shot primarily inside a log cabin or whether shots may include entire villages filmed from an aerial perspective. Once budget allocations are divvied up, the manual labor of set construction can begin.

Now we put boots on the ground

With the budget in mind, the construction manager hires carpenters, plasterers, painters, riggers, model makers, scenic artists, and stagehands to build the set. Once the basic underlying structures are set, the art department overlays the rudimentary shapes with texture, color, and rich detail to create the film’s world. Then a set dresser, decorator, or designer adds furniture, flooring, wallpaper, appliances, and paintings to the backgrounds. Finally, prop masters bring in all the objects that add realism to the set or are directly handled by the actors.

Need Resources for Your Film Set Construction?

Planning film set construction is a big job with many moving parts

No one person is responsible for planning film set design—but rather, it’s a group effort that comes together magically thanks to the team’s collective knowledge, expertise, and resourcefulness.

Tap professional resources to make your next film construction project a success

For more than two decades, has played a vital role in bringing films, commercials, music videos, trade show displays, TV shows, and theatrical productions to life.

From providing prop master services on The Last of the Mohicans to designing the set of a Justin Bieber music video, the talents of Jerry Blohm and Graylan Franklin are a driving force that brings dreams to life.

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Shop our prop warehouse, tap our design expertise, or get our help constructing, setting up, or tearing down a full build. No job is too big or too small for our crew. We’re based in Miami but will travel—so don’t hesitate to reach out for a free, no-obligation quote.

Susan – I almost wonder if we could convert this into an “About” page for the site. I found it so strange that has no “About” page.