The PDC believes in the empowerment of production designers through labor organizing and advocacy.
During the Production Designers Gathering we will welcome representatives of guilds and unions from around the world for discussions about labor conditions and craft promotion.
As a sneak preview, we asked production designers who are deeply involved in prominent production design associations to share information about their groups' strategies and aims.
"Uphold and dignify the status of professional production designers and refine their skills in order to provide the best possible service to their employers, clients and employees."
"We actively seek to encourage people from unrepresented backgrounds to progress their careers in the art department."
"With the financial uncertainty that choosing a professional life in the arts can potentially bring, there is solace in knowing that a labor organization is there to represent the members of the entertainment crafts."
Laure Lepelley Monbillard
"Fight to improve working conditions, the transmission of knowledge and best practice, as well as production tools, relationships with rental companies and the studios."
Dina Salem Levy
"We hope that our union will play an important role in securing rights, in the recognition of our work, and above all in opening up more and more space for the next generations."
July 2nd, 2022
How does your organization protect and promote production designers' craft?
Fiona Donovan is an Australian production designer and the vice president of the Australian Production Designers Guild. Fiona has worked in many genres of film, television and theatre, and has been nominated four times for the AACTA Award for Best Production Design in Television for her work on the internationally successful period drama, "A Place to Call Home".
The APDG was formed in 2009 to represent designers and associates across screen and live performance bringing them together with one voice. The founding directors initial aims were to create a community for designers to share information about their craft, and to ensure that Australian designers were recognised for their work. To do that, they designed an accreditation process for experienced designers, an awards event, and we have actively participated in industry-wide advocacy efforts alongside the other Australian guilds.
We continue these initiatives and have since created new initiatives, which include our mentorship program, MENTORAPDG and our annual series of design talks with our members, Dialogues In Design. We have also published industry guides and built a website and social media presence to share information, resources and opportunities within the design community.
As reflected in our constitution, our ethics are; Uphold and dignify the status of professional production designers and refine their skills in order to provide the best possible service to their employers, clients and employees; Deal with all users of production design with honesty, integrity and fairness; Refuse to participate in any practice that violates federal, state or local laws in Australia and to aspire to best possible professional practice both in Australia and overseas; Communicate in clear language all the terms and conditions of commissions and contracts; Share, where possible, knowledge and skills so as to continually improve standards in the profession; Promote the retention of copyright by the designer in original artworks and/or a fair stake in the profits made by the use of original designs and to strive towards a better understanding of the Copyright Act.
The APDG is largely volunteer-based and the amount we have achieved in the last 13 years is due the dedication of our active membership and the APDG thrives on a sense of community. Through our community building, our advocacy efforts and our promotion of members' work, we will continue to support the designers and their craft within Australia.
The Australian Production Designers Guild (APDG) acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this land on which we live, meet, work and create. We give respect to the Elders – past, present and emerging and to all Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who share their lands with us.
Laure Lepelley Monbillard
Laure Lepelley Monbillard is the vice-president of the Association des Décoratrices & décorateurs de Cinema in France. Laure began her career in film industry in 1994, and sustainably as production designer since 2011. She works for series, films, French and foreign productions.
The ADC was founded in 2005 by a dozen of production designers who saw the need to join forces after a series of animated discussions covering a wide range of subjects. These included, among others, competition between production designers, questionable market-led behaviour by certain production companies and the lack of recognition for our work’s artistic side. It is this spirit of reflection on the quality of the conditions and respect for our work that led to the writing of a charter of good practice.
To join our association, designers must have worked on at least three feature films made for cinema release. The ADC organizes monthly meetings attended by the president, vice-presidents, secretary, treasurers and other representatives, and which are open to all and at which everyone can put a face and character to a name, and participate in a collaborative and friendly approach to the various current issues.
Subjects dealt with during these meetings are as diverse as the character of the ADC’s members. We consider professional practices, improving working conditions and filmmaking, the organization of events (trade shows, lectures, etc.), as well as new projects important to different members, such as the recognition of artistic property.
Today, ADC counts more than 75 members, and wants to welcome younger designers and those working on TV fiction, while remaining a guarantor of quality in the absence of the defunct CNC professional card.
Production design is often the largest team on a film. Conscious of this special responsibility, ADC fights to improve working conditions, the transmission of knowledge and best practice, as well as production tools, and relationships with rental companies and, naturally, the studios.
ADC has taken clear positions on a new collective convention for the cinema industry, one negotiated between the unions and producers’ associations, with whom our association has constructive relations.
ADC also participates in a number of think tanks, roundtables and debates on digital production design and environmental issues (Ecoprod and Ecodeco) in our work, and the changes in cinema.
It is in this spirit that ADC wishes to develop its unifying role and its capacity for discussion and action so it can continue valorizing the unique activity that is production design for quality films.
Sonja Klaus is the Chair of the British Film Designers Guild, and a leading UK Film and Television Designer who also designs large scale events. Her film work includes "Terminator: Dark Fate", "A Good Year", and "Babylon AD". Television credits include "A Christmas Carol", "The Power," "Taboo (Season 1") and "Mr Selfridge (Season 2)".
I became a guild member over 24 years ago when the late great Peter Lamont asked me to join. I was honoured to be invited into a group of such highly esteemed Production Designers and Art Department professionals. At that time there were very few women in our world and being championed into a group of like-minded colleagues gave me a wonderful career boost, which ultimately ended up with my position of Chair of the British Film Designers Guild.
Back then the Guild was a fairly small group whose aim was, and still is, to promote and maintain the standards of the British Art Department. Fast forward to 2022 and we now boast over 600 of the country’s best creative talent with a programme of educational events, networking opportunities, accident insurance, training discounts, community newsletters and the glittering highlight of our year, the BFDG Production Design Awards. Now in its 12th year and supported by companies such as Netflix, previous winners include Stuart Craig, Gemma Jackson, Sarah Greenwood, Peter Young and many, many more.
Although we have existed for over 75 years, we are passionate about driving the industry forward and supporting new and emerging talent. We actively seek to encourage people from unrepresented backgrounds to progress their careers in the art department, running special portfolio surgeries for 1-2-1 portfolio and career advice. We also recently introduced a mentoring scheme whereby juniors and newcomers are partnered with experienced Heads of Department, to help nurture the next generation.
Since becoming Chair of the Guild, the industry has seen an incredibly tumultuous time, going through Covid and emerging into one of the busiest periods I can remember. It is important to state that we all have a responsibility to support our colleagues at all rungs of the ladder and that is something I am proud to say we actively encourage from our membership. I will shortly be handing over the mantle to my brilliant vice-chair Blair Barnette who I know will continue to develop the work of the British Film Designers Guild. She is passionate about inclusivity, diversity and promoting a happy workplace. Something that I know we all want to see more of.
Dina Salem Levy
Dina Salem Levy is one of the founders of Brada Collectivo in Brazil. After completing a master’s degree at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London, Dina began working as a set designer for films, exhibitions, and theatre plays. Most of the films she has worked on had their world premieres at Film Festivals such as Sundance, Cannes, and Venice.
Brada is a collective of Female Production Designers in Brazil created during the covid pandemic, that intends to unite women, trans and non-binary individuals and every other form of gender minority expression. We are present in all of the regions of Brazil and seek equity, solidarity and cooperation within the Brazilian audiovisual industry.
For the last decade, in Brazil, the presence of women in the market has escalated, especially in Art Departments. However, although we may be the majority among these professionals, female participation is not reflected in projects with major visibility and large budgets – these are still led by white, cisgender, males – nor in terms of professional recognition, salaries and awards.
Since its creation two years ago, the Collective has been promoting affirmative actions against inequality of opportunities within this culture of non-appreciation for the work of women. We seek to build an environment in which we may engage professionals and facilitate the action of diverse art teams with gender, color, and social background representation. Identifying, recognizing, disseminating, and appreciating the different production realities of our country.
During this period, we already managed to include the art direction credit in the catalogue of some festivals, and we made ourselves present in most awards and debate tables across the country.
It is also our intention to fight for recognition and appreciation of production design in the development of cinema. We deem urgent an analysis and revision of the parameters of curatorship of festivals and awards, that many times leave out the Best Production Design award and that of other related areas, such as costume design and make-up. We seek egalitarian measures related to hiring, salaries and credit, as well as the presence of qualified spaces for production design in the curriculum of all institutions dedicated to audiovisual expression.
The Collective became a space for debate, learning and dissemination of our achievements. We have come together to get to know each other and each other’s stories, transforming individual struggles into collective power.
We hope that our union will play an important role in securing rights, in the recognition of our work and above all in opening up more and more space for the next generations. That we may have the power, over the coming years, to make our workspace a healthier and more respectful one, free from harassment and racism.
Chuck Parker is a former production designer in film and television who lives and works in Los Angeles, California. He is currently in his third term as the National Executive Director of the Art Directors Guild, IATSE Local 800. Two shows of note that he designed were the Pilot for Ryan Murphy’s long running series, "Nip/Tuck" as well as seven seasons of the beloved series "Monk", starring Tony Shaloub as the inimitable OCD detective, Adrian Monk, for which Chuck also directed.
I want to applaud Inbal, Kalina and the Production Design Collective for organizing the upcoming Gathering of Production Designers they are hosting this coming October in Spetses, Greece. As this will be the first time that any of us are aware that production designers from around the world will gather together, solely for the purpose of sharing collective professional experiences and insights with each other, I am grateful for the invitation to participate.
The Art Directors Guild is a labor union and local of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.) located in Los Angeles, California. The ADG represents art directors, graphic artists, illustrators, matte artists, model makers, scenic artists, set designers and title artists.
The ADG's activities include a film society, the annual ADG Excellence in Production Design Awards, an art gallery called Gallery 800, technology training programs, and the professional quarterly news magazine Perspective.
As a longtime production designer and the current National Executive Director of the Art Directors Guild, I look forward to sharing, with all of the attending participants who live outside of our jurisdiction, the value that Unionism and Collective Bargaining has had on both my professional and personal life.
With the financial uncertainty that choosing a professional life in the arts can potentially bring, there is solace in knowing that a labor organization such as the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.) is there to represent the members of the entertainment crafts, with its mission of improving all entertainment workers’ lives both inside and outside the workplace.
I look forward to sharing not only some of my own professional experiences from shows that I have designed, but also want to focus on the value that knowing there is an organization that has bargained, on my behalf, with the employers and studios to ensure terms and conditions of employment such as minimum scale wages, daily and weekend rest periods, healthcare and pension benefits, and professional codes of conduct are guaranteed in our collective workplace.
So book your travel details and hotel accommodations now. We do not want to miss this historic professional opportunity. Stay safe and healthy and I will see you all there!