What is an ornamental plasterer and how do I become one? – Roles 'behind-the-scenes' in the film industry

By J&C Team

Everyone knows about the most famous job roles on a film set: the director, producer and editor, but you might not be aware of the host of other roles that are so essential to getting a film made! For example, have you ever thought about the function of a milliner, focus puller, lighting gaffer, prosthetic artist or perhaps an ornamental plasterer?

The plaster element is a crucial part of film set construction. Once the riggers and the carpenters have built and shaped the basic structures, the ornamental plasterer finishes the surfaces with traditional plastering to create a wide range of key structures and props.  These range from preparing moulds for the interior and exterior walls for castles, Victorian streets, entire city centres or extra-terrestrial landscapes – even tree trunks and boulders – to create the necessary illusion. For example, look at the shapes in the ornate theatre balconies in the 2004 film Phantom of the Opera and the intricate interior decorations in the 2010 Prince of Persia to fully appreciate the skill of the ornamental plasterer.

The job requires extensive experience in both the trade and on film sets, combined with creative skills and the ability to work under pressure and to strict deadlines.

The majority of those working in the film set construction department are qualified tradesmen in their specialist areas and are likely to have already been skilled craftsmen before entering film production – but even they will have to come in at a junior level to learn about ‘set etiquette’.

For most behind-the-scenes departments in the film industry, the entry level is as a trainee but you still must have basic knowledge. As all feature film jobs are highly contested, it takes a lot of perseverance and determination to make your way into the crew. To find out more about the departments and what skills are needed for the different job roles, take a look at these useful infograms.

If you’re interested in hiring or becoming a trainee, Creative Skillset’s Craft and Technical Skills Academy has developed a successful Trainee Placement Scheme for film and high-end TV. The scheme takes on trainees at different points throughout the year, so sign up to the e-newsletter to get the latest news.

Interested in furthering your career in the film industry? Creative Skillset has just made a range of funds for individuals and organisations available! Take a look at the funding pages to find out if you’re eligible and details of how to apply.