Art Director (Film, Television or Stage) Kaitohu Toi (Kiriata, Pouaka Whakaata, Whakaari rānei)

Art directors plan, organise and control artistic aspects of film, television or stage productions.

Art directors may do some or all of the following:

  • go over the script with the director to plan what sets need to be built
  • prepare a budget for the set design and build
  • design the set
  • hire an art department team
  • build or co-ordinate the building of sets to ensure it happens on time and within budget
  • work with wardrobe and make-up departments
  • work with special effects companies or teams to design special effects
  • hire equipment such as specialised props
  • prepare a daily breakdown of the script before shooting to confirm all sets and props are complete and in working order.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for art directors includes:

  • film, television or theatre production
  • any type of construction work
  • creative pursuits such as painting or sculpting.

Personal Qualities

Art directors need to be:

  • imaginative, creative, artistic and passionate
  • good communicators
  • good at research
  • able to lead, manage and motivate people
  • able to work well under pressure
  • well organised, with good planning and time management skills
  • adaptable, and able to multitask
  • good at budgeting and financial planning
  • patient.


Art directors need to have:

  • an understanding of the film, television, theatre and/or commercial production process
  • knowledge of the different roles within an art department and how the department operates
  • artistic and drawing skills
  • creative building skills such as carpentry, painting, sculpting or mould-making.


Art directors:

  • work varying hours depending on the size, location and filming schedule of the production. It is common for art directors to work long hours that may include early mornings and weekends
  • work indoors in studios, and outdoors on location
  • may need to travel nationally and internationally to different filming locations.

Art directors usually specialise in film, short videos, or stage productions.

Years Of Training

To become an art director you usually need to have progressed through other roles within an art department to gain the necessary skills, knowledge and experience.

A driver's licence is usually required.

A degree in film, television or theatre production may be useful – for example, a Bachelor of Design (Stage and Screen). A diploma or degree in any type of art, craft, or textiles subject may also be useful.

Art Director (Film, Television or Stage)