1397488400Portrait of Dave Arrowsmith. © Colleen MacLeod

Dave Arrowsmith

Job title:
Production Designer
Film | TV

Dave is a Production Designer who works across film and TV. His work includes An Adventure in Space and Time, Monarch of the Glen and Jack The Boy, which was nominated for a British Academy Television Craft Award in Best Production Design.

In your own words, briefly describe your job

I co-ordinate the art department under the Production Designer or as a Production Designer, working with a props team, construction, and props buyer to create the desired look of a film or television drama.

How did you get into the industry?

After briefly working as a stage hand in a theatre in Manchester I went to college in Scotland and was involved in designing short student films, I made contacts at college with outside production companies and started designing commercials and promos which lead to drama and eventually feature films as an art director 10 years later.

What is the reality of your job?

The hours are long, the money is pretty good, you can be away from home a lot, away from your family and friends, when you're not working you wish you were, when you are working sometimes you wish you weren't, BUT it is one of the best and probably most exciting industries to be working in.

In your experience, what are the best ways of promoting and marketing your skills?

A designer once told me when I was an assistant "you are only as good as your last job!" and unfortuantely he was right. The best way of promoting yourself is to work as hard as you can when you are working and do the best job you can.

How do you make sure that you keep up with current developments in your field?

Trade mags, talking to people in the industry over a few pints and the internet.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to broaden the range of work they are getting?

The best way to broaden the range of work you are getting is to cold call people and arrange a meeting to show your work and let people meet you. Nine times out of ten they will remember you the next time they are crewing for a job. However if you don't get anywhere with one or two phone calls, don't pester the person you are trying to meet, the chances are they will become irrated by you and never give you work because you are too in their face. It is a fine balance between being keen and enthusiastic and becoming a nuisance. I would also suggest evaluating your skills and strengths in the job you want to do, phone people you have worked with and ask them which areas they think you could become more proficient in, then look to find extra training in those skills.

How do you balance the demands of your professional life and your personal life?

It is very difficult. When I am working, which is most of the time, I'm away from home and away from my wife - work and personal life are one and the same. I try to take a few months off between jobs and stay at home, to catch up with my family and all my friends.


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