Production Design

A way into the world of design

Bafta award-winning production designer Joel Collins, whose credits include BBC One/HBO fantasy drama His Dark Materials, was in conversation with Falmouth University’s head of television and film, Kingsley Marshall.  

Collins explained that the role went way beyond an “opportunity to sketch and draw, visualise stuff and wear a cravat”. Instead, Collins explained, “you’re like a ringmaster of a circus, which is really more complex than anyone realises”. 

Working Lives: Production Designer

Most recently, he brought his quirky aesthetic to Adult Material, Channel 4’s drama set in the porn industry.

What is the production designer’s job?

Visualising the script and creating a world for the story to take place in. I set the mood and the tone for the look. The production designer is responsible for everything you see on screen, from a table dressing to the choice of landscape and everything in between: rooms, vehicles, special effects and stunts.

So, everything starts with the script?

The trials and tribulations of production design

The Last Tango in Halifax cast (Credit: BBC)

Since graduating with a degree in Theatre Design from Nottingham Trent university, Tuxford has gone on to work for shows including Last Tango in Halifax, Life on Mars and Channel 4 comedy Cardinal Burns.

The job of a production designer, she says, is far-reaching. From finding locations for the shoot, deciding on the visual tone of the piece, and managing the design budget, “you have your eyes all over it.”

“Ultimately you are responsible for every design decision and every visual decision, so the buck stops with you.”