Film and TV drama

Construction manager

Construction manager

What does a construction manager do?

Construction managers look after the building of studios and sets. They make sure that sets look as realistic or otherwise as desired.  They interpret the drawings of the production designer, art directors and draughtspersons and work out how to build them in ways that are safe and environmentally friendly.

Then they hire the workforce, the carpenters, painters, riggers and plasterers, and ensure everyone knows what needs to be done and by when. They are responsible for getting the necessary materials and tools on site and for the safety of the crew working with machines and at heights.

Construction managers are responsible for dismantling the sets, known as ‘striking’ the set, and ensuring all the materials are recycled as far as possible, or put into storage, taking into account Albert and other environmental considerations.

What’s a construction manager good at?

  • Construction: know all aspects of building work
  • Reading drawings: interpret drawings to plan size and scale, understand the designer’s vision, work out what this means in terms of building requirements
  • Organisation: manage a budget, work to a schedule, recruit hundreds of constructors within a tight timeframe
  • Communication: be able to liaise between the artists and the construction workers, get a team to work well together
  • Staying safe: ensure all health and safety measures are in place

Who does a construction manager work with?

How do I become a construction manager?

Construction managers have years of experience in film and TV drama production. Typically, they start off in one of the trades, usually carpentry, and work their way up. 

At school or college:
If you want to go to university, A-levels or Highers in art, architecture, photography, graphic design or graphic communication are useful.

If you want to go straight into a job or apprenticeship, the following Level 3 vocational qualifications will equip you for particular trades within the construction department:

  • Advanced Technical Diploma in Architectural Joinery
  • Advanced Technical Diploma in Painting and Decorating
  • Advanced Technical Diploma in Plastering
  • Advanced Technical Diploma in Site Carpentry
  • NOCN Cskills Awards Diploma in Accessing and Rigging
  • NOCN Cskills Awards Diploma in Accessing and Rigging
  • NOCN Cskills Awards Diploma in Bench Joinery
  • NOCN Cskills Awards Diploma in Decorative Finishing (Painting and Decorating)
  • NOCN Cskills Awards Diploma in Plastering
  • NOCN Cskills Awards Diploma in Site Carpentry
  • Edexcel NVQ Diploma in Accessing Operations and Rigging
  • Edexcel NVQ Diploma in Decorative Finishing (Painting and Decorating)
  • Edexcel NVQ Diploma in Plastering
  • Edexcel NVQ Diploma in Wood Occupations
  • National Diploma/Extended Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment

Get an apprenticeship:
An apprenticeship is a job with training, so it’s a great opportunity to earn as you learn. However, it can be challenging to find jobs as an apprentice within production companies. It’s worth looking for an apprenticeship within the construction industry in areas like carpentry, building or plastering. This will help you develop your skills that you can bring into film and TV drama at a later point. Check out What’s an apprenticeship?  to learn more about apprenticeships and find an apprenticeship to learn how to find one in your region, or approach companies directly. Go to ScreenSkills information on apprenticeships for the main apprenticeship schemes in film and television.

Get to know people in the industry:
Once you are qualified and have a couple of years’ experience in your chosen trade, you will be handy constructing a film set. Try to get to know people in the industry and ask if they need your skills. A good way to do this is through ScreenSkills’ events, especially Open Doors. Or use Production Base to find out what’s being made, contact production companies and ask about jobs.

You might also be interested in…

Working in the construction department for unscripted TV or working in a similar role in theatre.

Further resources