How to Hire a Freelance Set Decorator

The duty of a set decorator is to create background scenery for film productions. They work in collaboration with the production designer and director with the use of artwork, furnishings and other props to design rooms for production. They set the space so that it feels authentic, believable and lived in. They must read the script and conduct adequate research so as to make the set geographically or historically accurate. They work closely with other production specialists such as lighting coordinators when they are considering the plans.

What to look for when hiring

Excellent research skills

Excellent research skills

As a decorator, one of the duties is to conduct intense research as you source for ideas from paintings, photographs, books and more.

Attention to detail

Attention to detail

The decorator must be meticulous and pay keen attention to details. The finer details in a set make the set feel believable and lived in.

Creativity and imagination

Creativity and imagination

A great deal of imagination and creativity goes into constructing a successful set.

Know what you need

Decorations budget

Decorations budget

The amount that is set aside for decorations in the film budget will make a difference on the quality of the final set. The set decorator will want to know the amount in relation to the set needs before they can agree to take the job.

Analysis of the script

Analysis of the script

Only by analyzing the script will you be capable of identifying the props and other items that will be needed for the film set. It is, therefore, critical to analyze each scene and identify what is needed.

Contacts for prop hire companies

Contacts for prop hire companies

Chances are that each scene will need different props. Purchasing the props can be quite expensive hence making hiring the next viable option.

Questions to ask when hiring a set decorator

What challenge are you looking for in this job?

What challenge are you looking for in this job?

This question helps you determine what the candidate is looking for in their next job and whether they will make a good fit once they are hired. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. The answer simply helps you determine if they fit.

Why do you want this job?

Why do you want this job?

The answer the candidate gives for this question will help you gauge how passionate they are about their job. Having a passion for what they do is critical for a set decorator to make sure everything is right.

What have you learned from your mistakes in previous jobs?

What have you learned from your mistakes in previous jobs?

As a human being, it is inevitable to make mistakes. A candidate who does not have a specific example could be a sign that he is not honest and therefore not a credible candidate.

Have you ever turned down a job offer because you felt the decorations budget was not enough?

Have you ever turned down a job offer because you felt the decorations budget was not enough?

This question helps you evaluate if the candidate is willing to compromise the quality of their work by trying to fit in the set budget.

What is your favorite set flub in a movie that most people would not notice?

What is your favorite set flub in a movie that most people would not notice?

This question is aimed at testing the candidate’s attention to details not only in their work but in the work of others.

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