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A set dresser is very important to any kind of film or theater production. Productions cannot always occur in the climate or the time period called for in the script, so the set dresser is responsible for remedying that problem.
It is up to the set dresser to transform all of us to that place or time the production is set in. The set dresser must follow the script and work closely with the production designer, the set director, and the art director to make us all believe we are watching events in the time and location called for in the script.
Starting on the path to Set Direction
There is no set course that will lead to a career in set dressing. Some people begin by handling props, then are able to advance into jobs with more responsibility. Some people started volunteering for community theater and were able to keep advancing to higher and more important roles and on more and more important stages.
Places to start
There are several community and regional theaters that need people to work on set design and props. Some jobs are volunteer jobs, but still provide needed experience for the next level of work, and many begin a lower salary job in which people can learn the ropes and advance through more elaborate productions.
Being located in areas that have many theater and film productions means that those places need many set dressers.
Often people can get their foot in the door by moving to New York, Los Angeles, South Carolina, and other places that have theater productions and film productions.
Some specific places to search out in your home or in these other, more production intense locations include.
Film and television production companies
Opera and dance companies
Play to your strengths
One of the more important attributes of people working as set dressers is creativity. A person who can see the words on a script and imagine what those words could transform into is very valuable to a production.
Another important skill for set dressing is research. You need to know what kind of cars people drove in 1950. You need to understand when seat belts were first installed on cars. You need to know what harness a horse would have on it in 1750, or in 1950. Each of these small additions of authenticity are important to set dressers.