stumbled upon setdesign’s tweet about skillset’s article on the responsibilities of a production designer. although i took up architecture and interior design (once upon a time) and eventually got a degree in fine arts, i never really studied production design. there is no course on production design here in the Philippines, just a 3-unit subject offered under the film program, which i never took. in high school, i yearned to direct movies but never to design for film. i counted on cesar hernando as a mentor in college but my training came from cannes winner brillante mendoza, when he was still known as dante mendoza, the production designer. a friend of a friend recommended me to mendoza back in 2004 when i really didn’t have an idea what i would be getting into except the fact that i’d be involved in a shoot. you may call me an accidental production designer, like most designers i know.
production design in the philippines is a tricky sort, one that hasn’t been formalized and standardized. there are expectations but the working styles, commitment and the art department designations vary per designer. more often than not, here in the Philippines the production designer is a designer, art director, set decorator, wardrobe and props buyer in one. when i was an apprentice for dante mendoza, i learned to juggle different requirements for various tv commercial projects all happening at the same time. our team ranged from 3-6 people per project with overlapping responsibilities. i later learned other tvc designers, like butch garcia and adelina leung, would have a different art department team for each project. practices in production design also adjust slightly when working on film (independent and mainstream), print media, tv shows and music videos.
was offered to work as art director for an international ad recently. i immediately said yes, not only because i was excited to work with the celebrity talent but more because i would be working with an international production designer (and production staff). the prospect of learning something new and hopefully improving my work as a designer and that of my team thrilled me. add to this the fact that the director used to be a production designer as well raised the stakes but i was stoked and was more than eager to get the work started.
the skillset article breaks down what would be the ideal setup for the art department, something we local designers can hope to have and given the budget of most productions in the Philippines, we can only dream of. im reposting the whole article below