Setting the Scene

What is art? Is it the sculpture outside the local bank? How about the painting composed of nothing but different hues of red splotched all over a pink canvas and called Man in the Time of the Mammoth, hanging in a local gallery and astronomically priced? Maybe art is the photograph taken by your Aunt Rose of you when you were three.

All these things are art in some form or another. But if you want to belong to the art department of a film crew, you have to know that art is all this and more.

On a film, the art department is responsible for the look of the film. No matter where or when the film is set, the members of the art department work together to create the appropriate environment and atmosphere. This could include anything from building a complete town for a Western to creating a spaceport for a science fiction epic.

In addition to designing and building sets, the art department has the responsibility for what goes on the sets, making sure the table and chairs not only match each other but match the decor of the setting they are in. Members of the art department have to be highly creative to replicate artifacts from the past or future. They also must be historical experts, so they can faithfully recreate any period in history as well as any social class in that period.

The art department is a talented, educated unit. As a group, it has done everything from creating the prehistoric landscape of

The Flintstones to the Elizabethan stages of Shakespeare in Love to the hi-tech futuristic world of The Matrix.

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