One of the most competitive positions is that of the Production Designer. There's alot of confusion around the role, yet one thing's for sure, everyone wants it. Its the God position. It is one that is often abused. One that has a wide variety of players with a wide variety of skills. A position where there is no pre-requisite. No guarantees. Lots of prestige.
Its not easy pursuing a career as a PD. There's just not enough well paid PD gigs to go around. Those that have a backup income can freely pursue it. If they are any good, they will float to the top. Those that are connected to the higher ups through family or relationship often get a break. If they're any good they too will float to the top. Those that do Indies for little or no money may get a break. Those too will float to the top if they are any good.
The face of the PD is changing these days. It used to be a tough club to crack into. When I started in Film, it was still the big money days. I got to work for really fantastic PD's. Things were done certain ways. The Designer would design a look and the Art Director would implement the action. It was a well oiled machine. Before my time there wasn't a position of PD. The Art Director was the PD, and the Assistant Art Director implemented the action.
The role diddn't really change until recently.
As the economy started sliding, new faces started appearing, those that would work for less, mostly Set Decorator types. Many are inexperienced in the Art Dept. yet have a great eye for colour and design. With new PD's coming from areas other than traditional Art Departments the position is blurring. Each new PD must hire according to their weaknesses and if they want to make the most of the existing Art Dept talent pool, they need to put their egos aside aswell. The smart new PD consults their crew and promotes their talent. It is, afterall, the crew thats doing their work. If they want results, they need to generate a creative team with a shared goal. Self gratification is a dead end.
Another factor in the change is the new generation. Its a new attitude. Its independent and its all about changing the Old School format of the Art Department. And I'm glad. The change is good.
One thing is for sure. Every PD is different, has different expectations and different ideas about their craft. I respect the ones that embrace change, creativity and talent. And I am flexible to those that inspire me. Those that have felt threatened by others' expertise are not the personality type that can last in this new landscape, nor will those that still cling to the notion that knowlege is power. That was yesterday.