Aileen Fang is an Art Department Assistant for Film, Television and Theatre. Aileen believes more opportunities to elevate Australian stories will strengthen the industry in a competitive international market and has a passion for creativity and visual storytelling. She has worked on Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie's Dead Aunt), and shorts Respect the Kink, Like How I Remember, and How to Be Queer.
Aileen tells us what it is like to be an Art Department Assistant in our interview:
1. Describe your typical day: There really isn't a typical day when you're freelancing in the film industry. As an art department freelancer, my roles range from being a production designer on short films or proof of concepts, to an art department assistant who can work in Film, TV and TVC's. It's a lot of time management and ensuring that I answer calls on my phone, check Facebook groups for new jobs and my email, so that I don't miss any critical updates or opportunities.
2. Best bit about your job? The best bit about the job is the immense privilege of working in a creative field. It's really rewarding when all your hard work pays off and you get to see the finished product, whether it's a short film that has a small premiere at a local cinema, or a TV series on a streaming platform. Being able to represent Australian stories is really important to me so that younger generations are able to see themselves on screen. Dance Academy was really impactful for me when I was younger and I remember being excited for every episode because the characters felt so real and relatable.
3. How did you get to where you are? I messaged a producer on Facebook regarding working on an independent film which gave me a practical crash course in filmmaking. My work ethic and willingness to learn allowed me to make the most of that opportunity and be referred for more work. Building a good reputation and treating people with kindness is important, especially when you're starting out and don't have any connections or family members working in film. 4. What skills and training do you need to do what you do? Coming from a hospitality and events background, I have a lot of skills with people which allow me to collaborate and communicate effectively, and the ability to handle stress and fast-paced environments. A film set is very similar to a kitchen to me, being that there are usually too many chefs, intense time pressure and something is on fire (either figuratively or because it's been written in the script). I completed the Introduction to Production Design for Film and Screen at AFTRS online through FutureLearn and I'm also self-taught in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe InDesign which is what I primarily use when I'm making design briefs. I think ongoing training and learning are very important as the film industry is rapidly changing and growing. 5. Advice to someone thinking about the job:
I would encourage them to give it a try, but know that it's an incredibly competitive industry and you have to be willing to put in the effort and time. Also, it's a big advantage to have your license so make sure to get on your P's asap.
So give it a try! If it's not for you, explore other screen industry roles in our A Day in the Life series to discover where your skills are needed.