Responsible for creating the physical space and visual look of a film, a production designer is tasked with creating the world inhabited by actors on screen. These worlds are on display this week at the 2018 Production Design Showcase, organized by Professor John Chichester. Graduating seniors, as well as first and second-year graduate students, are presenting their work in the lobby of the Marion Knott Studios.

Professor Chichester brings over 30 years of experience to his classroom and has worked on films including, Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Book of Eli, and Tropic Thunder.

Professor John Chichester sketches at a table.

Production Design Program director John Chichester.

“After the script is written the first person to actually physically do anything is the designer,” says Chichester who understands the importance of the designer’s role. There is a director to hire, actors to cast, and locations to scout, but the designers and their team are tasked to previsualize the universe of the film. “Design is the bridge between writing and shooting a movie.”

As an instructor in production design at Dodge College, Chichester understands that the effort required to build a functioning bridge is collaborative. “The thing I really like about [filmmaking],” he says, “is the collaboration required to make the film. Along with the director and producer you are working with a range of talented professionals, the art director, architects, painters, and visual effects experts.”

Developing these skills of collaboration are an essential part of his courses, as he instructs the next generation of visionary professionals.

To have a career in production design it is important to have the skills of the trade such as illustration and drafting. However, as Chichester will tell you, in the most patient and understanding way, there are a variety of soft skills necessary that accompany the profession. Among them are an even temperament, and efficiency on set, as well as the ability to nimbly adjust as the life of a film evolves.

2018 Production Design Showcase

Professor Chichester illuminates his classroom with knowledge from a variety of film sets and continues to be a beacon for students becoming tomorrow’s designers.

Be sure to stop by the lobby of the Marion Knott Studios, Dodge College, May 7-12 week to see more works by these gifted students, and join us for a reception on Friday, May 11 at 6 p.m. to learn more about these students and their work.