You were always told to listen to your mother, and once you became an adult you realized that it was pretty good advice.
Now that you’re a grown-up film industry professional, the best advice I can give you is to listen to your Construction Coordinator. They’re the one person that can either make or break you and you should ignore them at your peril.
It seems today that you’re going to find few people who are willing to offer free advice that’s actually helpful and useful, but that’s not the case with Michael Mulligan, the Construction Manager at the Set Supermarket in the UK.
With experience in design, set construction, special effects and art direction, Michael has some sage advice for the new and experienced Art Director in avoiding the big pitfalls of a build as well as having some great ammunition to throw at a producer when they try to convince you that a stage build is too much trouble or expensive.
Michael points out that the CM ( the equivalent of our Construction Coordinator here in the states ) can save you big headaches and prevent you from making costly budget errors.
Here is a sample of some of his advice he offers on his company blog:
“Listen to the advice of the CM, you may think your set is unique but often, he or she will have done one similar and learned valuable lessons from it. The look may be unique but the principles involved will have been used before somewhere.
Remember that the finishes are as expensive as the build and much much less predictable as far as costing is concerned, if you want to try something new or something daring, don’t be surprised if a large sum is added, just in case it does not go well the first time. Tried and tested methods give the best value.
Make sure the space you are building in does not hamstring you. Restricted hours, restricted access, no parking, restriction on use of tools, danger of damaging the location, long distances and fundamentally inadequate space can knock the wind out of the scope of your build.
Make sure production know the fundamentals of set construction. Often producers will have been working a while without doing a proper build and are unaware of the simple rules for working hours, health and safety, overtime and so on. Its best to avoid nasty surprises and ill feeling by checking they’re level of knowledge in advance and filling in any blanks.”
You’ll find that there’s not much difference in the scope of work other than maybe a reference to “tea and biscuits” which is the equivalent to our “diet Coke and a donut” (I’ll take the tea and biscuits, thank you very much).
You can check out his blog and find other good advice at: