I'd like to design for themed entertainment, but funding will probably take me to a school that isn't in a themed entertainment hub. How much of a problem is this?


I'm a mid-career professional, pivoting from 15 years in film and television to architecture. I'd like to stay within the entertainment industry, specifically themed entertainment. Unfortunately, it's looking like the funding is taking me to a location that is not a hub of themed entertainment. How much of a problem will this be for me? Or is networking so important that it might be worth going to a more expensive school (like USC)? I'm currently working a contract at an immersive art company and I've noticed that all of the job openings they advertise are basically already taken before they're posted. Outsiders have no chance. I'm worried my network won't get me where I want to be after graduation. I'd love any advice! 

Mar 10, 23 4:29 am
Non Sequitur

there is too much fluff in here.

First, it is never worth it going to a more expensive place. Arch school is not an investment so pay as little as possible. 

Second, entertainment industry is a fucking wide and generic term. Certainly you can find a way to align your graduate work with what you like, but there is a lot more than design in arch school. If all you care about are grand concepts and themes but not building construction or prof-practice, then just go to art college. Plenty of options available and some even have fake arch schools too. 

Third, you’re overthinking this… or you don’t understand architecture. Could be both. 

Mar 10, 23 6:09 am  · 

Do you need a professional architecture degree to work for Meow Wolf, Disney Imagineering and others in that arena? I always thought an industry veteran could segue into a senior art/design director role and supervise trained architects - as opposed to training as an architect yourself.

Mar 10, 23 9:31 am  · 
1  · 

Do you know what companies you might like to work for after graduation and where they are located?  See if you can obtain an informational interview with one or more of them and determine what they look for in new hires and where they recruit from.  Like others, I wonder if a designer/art director really needs a professional arch degree.

With Disney, Universal, and so much else being based in LA, I suspect USC may offer some advantages for you.   Studying somewhere away from the center of the industry will require more attention and commitment to long-distance networking on your part.

Mar 12, 23 9:42 am  · 

Hey meowpypurrfday . I am a design director at what amounts to a live entertainment / circus / theatre company. We design our own venues, restaurants, activations in house with some level of theming as required by the show narrative or relevant concept. Not necessarily as immersive as Galaxy's Edge, per se, but certainly more than capital A architecture or interiors.  

I think there is more to your query than just 'going to architecture school' and / or where you live. I live in Atlanta but do zero work here / am registered in several states but do not stamp / have an architecture degree, well two, but don't practice capital A architecture. I have done more production design and interiors than architecture in the contemporary sense. 

As Non Sequitur mentions, entertainment is wide. Can you expand on what exactly your interests are in this area?

Mar 13, 23 12:08 pm  · 

rockwell group always struck me as big in the theme realm and yet with feet in the traditional architecture interiors world

Mar 13, 23 12:24 pm  · 

Yeah, I Rockwell is an example of a diverse office. David himself having theatre experience, the office practicing in both ID as well as Arch. They designed the Oscars during covid, so there's production. And they also have a tech forward 'lab' that is more focused on digital integration into spaces / (cliche term) immersive experiences, etc. 

Family did some scenic / production for Kanye. OMA as well. 

Mar 13, 23 12:33 pm  · 

A bit of a nitpick, but I think it's the AMO division/sibling of OMA that officially does fashion shows and scenography designs.

Mar 13, 23 1:10 pm  · 

Yes, I believe ​you are correct.

Mar 13, 23 1:21 pm  · 

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