From Architecture to
Film Art Director Career.... possible?

by muhammed
(chennai,tamil nadu,india)

Sir, I’m about to start my career in architecture. I completed my 5yr Bachelor of Architecture program recently. Even now I’m not satisfied with my field.
What I think I really want to be is an art director in films. But I don’t know if it’s the right decision to switch to career in film industry after completing my Bachelor Architecture which already took 5yrs of my life... please guide me through this.

Simon Responds to ‘Film Art Director Career ?

Hi Muhammed
Considering this new career as a film art director after completing five years of study for something else, can bring feelings of disillusionment and frustration, realizing that perhaps you may have made a mistake.

Unfortunately it's quite a common scenario for university students to complete their degree only to discover that this may not be the field in which they want to work.
Sometimes it can be a wise decision to begin the career you have your degree in. Getting real life work experience in the job on a day-to-day basis will confirm whether this career is for you or not.

Apart from that however, there is one thing worse than studying for five years for a degree and then not using that degree in a job. And that is to study for five years for a degree and then commit long-term to a career that you really don't like.
That would be one mistake on top of another- two mistakes instead of one.
So after you are sure that architecture is really not for you, the thing to do is to learn from that and to take some steps to ensure that working as a film art director (particularly if it involved further study) has a higher chance of resulting in a job you will enjoy.
So how do you increase those chances?

Here are a couple of things to consider:

1. If you think you would like to be an art director in the film industry, one thing you should do to help you understand if this job really is something you would enjoy, is to arrange meetings with a number of film art directors and draw up a list of questions to ask them that would help you understand if you would enjoy this type of work.

In other words, doing as much research on that job type from people who know about it firsthand, before you make any decision.

2. Think about trying to get some kind of job in the film industry or a job that is connected to the film industry. Even if it is a low-paid entry-level job.
This way you will get an opportunity to get personal insight into the industry and an opportunity to rub shoulders with many people inside the industry, potentially including film art directors.

Temporary job positions in the film industry can sometimes be a good way to achieve this. This way you get to test the water before committing to your new role as a film art director.
Also taking a low-paid job can sometimes be a good way of testing your true passions for working in a particular job.

Here are some words from a film art director that you may find helpful.

I'm always of the opinion that any student contemplating a degree should carry out the above steps before signing up at their University.
As you point out, it's five years of your life and today it costs a lot of money for a degree.
Some of this risk can be dramatically minimized by implementing some of the steps above.


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