CHOOSING A CAREER / JAN. 07, 2015
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How to Become a Film Set Construction Manager in the US

Although construction management is a profession that is mostly associated with the building and construction industry, it also does exist in the film industry. Here, construction managers oversee the construction of a film set, either on location or on a stage. If you possess strong creative and personnel management skills, this is a career you could chase.

What Do Film Set Construction Managers Do?

The primary role of these construction managers is to lead the process of building a set for film or television production. If a script requires a Christmas village scene, for instance, it is the manager’s job to ensure its creation. This involves:

  • Discussing construction costs with producers and directors
  • Hiring and supervising a team of craftsmen, including carpenters and painters
  • Coordinating the purchase of construction materials from suppliers
  • Ensuring all aspects of construction run smoothly
  • Collaborating with the set designer to inspect the set construction and verify it follows the original design
  • Ensuring the health and safety of construction workers.

Work Environment

These construction managers typically oversee the construction of sets from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. However, the film industry is characterized by irregular work schedules. This means you should be prepared to work in the evenings and weekends.

Salary

Here is the average salary film set construction managers earn in a year:

Occupation

 

Annual Salary

Film set construction manager

 

$52,000

Source: Indeed

Entry Requirements

You need to have a combination of construction and film production knowledge to qualify for employment as a film set construction manager. As such, the best way to enter the profession is to start out as member of the film set construction crew. You could work as a:

  • Carpenter
  • Painter
  • Plasterer
  • Rigger

After gaining some construction experience, proceed to pursue an associate’s degree in scenery and set construction, or technical theater. These programs cover a range of set construction topics, including prop construction, lighting technology and control systems, scenic and lighting motors and rigging systems and stage management. Examples of colleges that offer relevant programs include:

Important Qualities

To be a competent film set construction manager you need:

  • Strong skills in personnel management
  • A good level of creativity
  • Strong project management skills
  • Good budget management skills
  • Good time management skills
  • Good business skills
  • Good communication skills
  • The ability to motivate staff members
  • The ability to identify workers’ strengths and weaknesses
  • An understanding of construction safety practices.

Career Development

Film set construction managers have minimal career progression opportunities because of the stand-alone nature of the construction department. So it is hardly possible to move a step ahead.

Nonetheless, some managers who gain vast work experience a good chance of getting employed in large production companies with lucrative remuneration packages.

Many other managers often move into other careers within the film industry. For example, you can earn a bachelor’s degree in set and exhibit designer to become a fulltime set designer.

Job Opportunities

The employers of film set construction managers include:

  • Film production companies
  • TV stations
  • Advertising agencies
  • Theatres
  • Set construction and design studios
  • Art Schools.

Finally, what are your chances of getting employed? Well, the demand for movies is increasing, music videos are being dropped by the day and TV commercials are becoming part of our lives! This can only mean more film set construction managers will be needed.

So if you want to pursue a career in construction management but don’t fancy building houses, then maybe you can become a film set construction manager.

 

Image source: heroloans

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