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The 13th BFDG Production Design Awards supported by BENlabs

Outstanding Contribution To The Art Department Award Winner

Winner: Heather Noble

This award is for Art Department members who we would like to honour for their outstanding contribution to the art department.

Judging for this award, is made by the BFDG committee.

Heather Noble

Art Director

I joined the film industry in 2000, having spent too much of my engineering degree building a set for ADC Theatre in Cambridge instead of attending lectures. But for the first 15 years of my career I was adrift, with brief stints in Propmaking and SFX followed by serious time as a Co-ordinator in Production, VFX and the Art Department. Eventually, it became clear that I should aim for the role of Supervising Art Director, where I’d be able to exploit my broad experience, my technical and organisational skills, and my love of creativity.

Today, I’m honing my skills as Art Director, and I get a kick from collaborating and problem-solving with other departments, working together to get the most visual-bang for our collective buck!

Beyond my role, I promote a broader understanding among junior colleagues and have been leading introductory training sessions for industry newcomers which explain how Props, Set Dec, Construction and Art work together as a tight-knit family, and how we each interact with the film unit as a whole.

This exposure to recent graduates has focused my mind on two other issues: the levels of neuro-diversity in the industry (and how we might get the best from our teams!); and whether we’re missing out on talent because of financial and geographical barriers to entry.

In 2021, I spoke to a young colleague about dyslexia and autism, and specifically the difficulties they create around networking, handling verbal information, etc. We also discussed his personal situation: he was based in the Midlands and came from a working-class background. He had little personal or family wealth to draw on and no support from relatives, and so he was having to turn down opportunities simply because he couldn’t afford to get to them.

It occurred to me that members of the Guild may be experiencing something similar, so I contacted the office team to pitch an idea, and together we set up a Bursary Scheme which subsidises the travel and/or accommodation expenses of any member – not just juniors – who might otherwise have to turn down an opportunity, whether that be a training course, a networking event, or a work experience placement.

I felt it was important that this Bursary was self-funded, so every year I organise a 15-mile fundraising walk around a UK city to fill the coffers: Glasgow in 2022, Newcastle in 2023, and Bristol this year.

The walk itself serves several purposes:
It offers far-flung members a Guild event that’s local to them.
It’s a great way for colleagues to network, particularly those with introversion, social anxieties and autism who might find walking side-by-side less challenging than talking face-to-face.
And it’s a super-efficient way to explore a new city: its sights, its food, and particularly its architecture – We try to pass all the main places of interest and at least one doughnut shop!

I’m delighted to have this small effort honoured by the Guild tonight, and to be given the opportunity to promote it to the wider membership.

If you feel able to support this year’s fundraising, please donate here: www.gofundme.com/f/bfdg-sponsored-walk-2024

Or alternatively you could join the walk itself:
BRISTOL – 13 APRIL 2024 – contact [email protected]
Thank you.

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