Set Decorator

Fit out movie sets to give the story an authentic feel.

What does a Set Decorator do?

A set decorator furnishes the rooms that make up a film set, keeping in mind the feel or vision that the production designer has outlined. This makes you an interior designer for the stage: As a set decorator, you’re in charge of everything within the architecture of a set, as long as it’s not a hand prop (that is, things directly handled by an actor), or an actor him or herself. This makes your job transforming four white walls and a set budget into a finished room, be it a western saloon or a space age locker room.

When you’re the set decorator, you start by reading the script and chatting with the production designer to understand the number of rooms to decorate, the time period the production takes place in and the purpose of each scene. Then you get to work sketching out your vision, hanging wallpaper, shopping for chandeliers, and reupholstering couches.

In this job you work closely with the prop master to ensure all the necessary things for a scene are in the room, and discuss which one of you will cover it out of your budgets. A big part of your job is staying under budget—as wonderful as authentic materials are, most productions can’t afford a real leather chair that only gets used once.