Know What an Art Director’s Job Entails

Alka Singh updated on : 03 Mar 2014

Here, an assistant art director tells you the intricacies of art direction. Know what all it takes to become an art director.

how to become an art director

The golden screen of Indian Cinema has always attracted everyone sans age, religion or region. Almost every one of us, somewhere in our hearts wants to get associated with the world of fame, glitz and glory. While some wants to be the face of cinema and aspire to become superstars, there are some who are intrigued by the cinema which bustles behind the camera.


Till few decades back Film Industry was synonym to ‘Hero’ and ‘Heroine’ but today there are people who want to pursue their career in other aspects of cinema like Direction, Production, Script Writing, Cinematography, Choreography, editing et al. From set designer to lighting expert a film comes to screen with the hard work of many experts.


Here, href=" brings you straight from the professional who has established herself as assistant art director in the film industry. Boishali Sinha, assistant art director share with you about the job description of an art director to help you to know how to become an art director…


Q. Brief us on your journey so far.

All that spirit desires spirit attains... Life is a journey and so has been mine but a fun filled, amazing trip till now. Starting my journey from the capital city (Delhi) to France, where I completed my education in Fine Arts to here in Mumbai, life has been a learning lesson all through this while.


Q. How different is Art education in France than in India?

I was inclined towards colours since my childhood and always wanted to pursue my career in the field of Arts. After my 10+2 I did my Bachelors in Fine Arts and then moved to France to further enhance my skills as there were not much options available a decade back.


My stay in France was the most memorable one. The country not only offers you quality education but for an Art student it is the place to be. The city is full of creative people and marvellous art structures to inspire one self. It was total change for me both in terms of culture and academics. France follows new and creative concept of teaching while in India we are still stuck with old orthodox methods. However, now I have seen a lot of development in the field of Art too.


Q. You were a painter. When was it that you decided to join the glittery world of cinema?

I am still a painter. The only difference is now I paint frames, live frames which you see when you go to watch a movie in theatre.


Q. Was it a tough road or smooth sailing?

Well, nothing is difficult it’s how you look at it. Life is what you think it is, if you think it’s tough it’s tough, if you think it’s easy it is easy. I had my ups and downs and no success taste sweet unless you fall from few ladders. Struggle is inevitable and one has to be determined to face it.



Q. How does Art Direction help in the making of a movie?

Art direction is the soul of a movie, the entire look, the era, everything is art direction. It’s what gets a movie closer to its audience, and make them feel what actually it is. For instance, if we talk about Barfi,, the look that got you closer to Darjeeling was all done by an art director and if we talk of Rowdy Rathore the burning factories ,the wedding ambience everything was planned by art director.

Q. What does the process involves?

Our work starts even before the actors or actresses come for shooting. We have to do all the research beforehand. The process comes under pre production part of film making. We have to do recce (on location survey) with the director DOP (director of photography) art director and production. We then decide the place for shooting, lighting and sound etc even before the shooting starts.

After this we have another tech recce where we do the same thing but in a more intricate and detailed manner. Then we have to decide if we the location would need any temporary construction like buildings, houses etc.

Preparing the set is the last thing we do after recce, construction, meetings etc it is only after that the shooting begins.



Q. Any special training required?

I am from an Art background but their many art directors who are architects, engineers and few have never even held a paint brush. But what makes them great in the work is their creativity and planning. A creative mind and a passionate heart is what it takes to be a successful art director.



Q. What are the key skills and knowledge needed to be a good art director?

An art background combined with an architectural background , is good enough, well actually you have to have that aesthetical touch to be an art director but to be a good art director well.



Q. You have worked with the likes of Akshay Kumar, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan. How was the experience?

The experience was outstanding. Though we call them stars but there is so much that I have learnt from all of them but no one can be compared to Akshay.



Q. What are the remunerations like in this field? Is there a lot of struggle in the beginning? Or is the pay always good?

The remuneration is like either day wise or contract wise. It varies from production house to production house. Of course, with experience you tend to earn more bucks.



Q. What are the pros and cons of being in this career domain?

Every career has its dark and brighter side. Film industry does not follow the 9 to 5 pattern. There are times when we have to work late in the night and even as early as 3 in the morning. But, if you love this profession, the outcome is satisfying and nothing can compare to that feeling of sufficiency. The field not only gives you recognition but also let you work with the stars literally.



Boishali Sinha has worked as an assistant art director in the movies like Rowdy Rathore, Aatma, Special 26 and currently working for Satya 2 by Ram Gopal Verma. She has done her Bachelors in Fine Arts from Delhi College of Arts and Masters in Fine Arts from Universite de Rennes 2, France.

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