Design for narrative feature films is a unique craft, a business and an art form. It is among the most important, yet least understood creative departments in the movie business. The visual imagery in every frame (minus the actor himself) is in some way the work of the Production Designer. This designer is part artist, dreamer, researcher, project manager, businessman, problem solver, therapist, pitchman and the captain of a creative army. Production Designers work closely with the director bringing to life his vision of the script. This work also requires the designer's collaboration with other key personnel such as the Cinematographer, Location Manager, Costume Designer, Special and Visual Effects Supervisors as well as those within the Art Department itself: the Art Director, Set Designer, Construction Coordinator, Set Decorator and the Property Master.

Many people outside and inside the business do not fully understand what the Production Designer does. The AFI Conservatory recognizes the vital contribution the Production Designer makes to visual storytelling in motion picture and television productions, and has made Production Design an important part of the overall program.

The AFI Conservatory's two-year Production Design program is a combination of two equally important areas of study: first is the hands on experience that comes from designing and crewing on numerous film projects, the second is both attending and participating in academic classes on Film Design. These areas both require a great deal of work and demand a full-time commitment. Through the mentorship of excellent faculty, visits from working professionals to our Campus and field trips to art departments and motion picture sets shooting around town, AFI provides a unique opportunity for a learning experience found nowhere else in the world.

Artists accepted into this program should bring a passion for storytelling, a love for drawing a quick sketch on a napkin to express an idea, the communication skills to collaborate with other creative people, and an understanding that the pencil, scale ruler, digital camera and computer are all equally important for conveying your great ideas. The Admissions Committee assumes that by this time in your life you have designed previously - whether in college, semi-professional theater productions, Architecture or Interior Design School, or independent film productions - so we will need to see examples of your design work when you apply. These can include: examples of drafted groundplans and elevations, set models, examples of your sketching and drawing ability, perspective drawing and illustrations. How you express your design ideas on paper or with the computer is the essence of what we want to see. Do you have to be great at all these things? No. Do you need to show some basic understanding of these abilities and want to improve upon them? Yes.

As a working Production Designer, the head of AFI's Production Design Department and an AFI Alumnus, I must tell you that it is still a high to see my artistic ideas move from concept to paper and then from built sets to the finished film where they will live on forever.

Please explore this website and learn more about us - the design faculty and the classes we teach - while viewing the talent of our Design Fellows in the online gallery.

Joseph T. Garrity
Senior Filmmaker-in-Residence

AFI Membership