The Art PA: Set Construction for Film Production

When you watch a film, you might not think about the intricate details of the set. However, the set is a crucial element that sets the stage for the story and immerses the audience in the film’s world. There are many tasks an art production assistant must accomplish as far as aesthetics of the film, but set construction may be the most physically taxing job. Set construction is a significant aspect of film production, and it involves designing and building a physical space to create the desired look and feel of a scene. In this blog post, we’ll dive into your role as a set PA, and get into the specifics of set construction.

What Does an Art PA do on Film Sets?

As an art production assistant, you will be working closely under the Art Director. You may also be working with other art production assistants so communication, as with any department, is important. You will be helping transfer initial sketches to set for craftsmen to build upon or for you to set up locations.

You will be working under the Production Designer, Art Director, Set Designer, Set Decorator, Set Dresser, and any other coordinator in the department. Your job will be to handle the logistics, run errands and even fetch coffee if need be.

The Importance of Set Construction in Film

A film’s set can transport the audience to a different time, place, or reality. Set construction is essential because it creates the atmosphere and ambiance that the film’s story requires. For instance, if the story is set in a medieval castle, the set should reflect the medieval era’s architecture, furniture, and decor. The set also needs to be functional and safe for the actors to perform their scenes.

Creating a Set Design

Before the set construction process begins, the production team needs to develop a set design. The set design is a detailed plan that outlines the dimensions, materials, and aesthetics of the set. The design team works closely with the film’s director, cinematographer, and production designer to ensure that the set’s look and feel align with the overall vision of the movie.

Building the Set

Once the set design is approved, the construction team can begin building the set. The construction team typically includes carpenters, painters, and other craftsmen who work together to construct the set’s framework, walls, floors, and other details. The team also installs the lighting and electrical systems and creates any necessary special effects.

Set Dressing

After the set is constructed, the set dressers come in to add the final touches. Set dressing involves adding props, furniture, and decorations to create the desired look and feel of the scene. For example, if the scene is set in a living room, the set dresser would add items like sofas, coffee tables, lamps, and other decorative items to create a cozy and inviting space.

Set construction is a significant undertaking that requires a lot of time, effort, and resources. However, the end result is a visually stunning and immersive environment that brings the film’s story to life. A well-constructed set can also save time and money by providing a controlled environment for filming, which eliminates the need for location scouting.


Set construction is an essential aspect of film production that creates the atmosphere and ambiance that the film’s story requires. The set construction process involves designing and building a physical space, dressing it with props and furniture, and creating the final look and feel of the scene. A well-constructed set can transport the audience to a different time, place, or reality and contribute significantly to the success of a movie.