From school to set: One graduate’s venture into movie set design

Thomas Barszcz

Whether you know it or not, Georgia Southern has produced some talented and successful individuals of all different types of trades. One such example is Timothy Earls, an accomplished designer of movie sets who has worked on many famous productions such as Iron Man 3, Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Batman vs. Superman.

Earls came back to GS for the second time this past Monday to present his story in the Blackbox Theater and encourage aspiring art students to pursue their dreams.

In the Beginning

Earls graduated from GS in 1992 with a degree in graphic design and a goal of becoming an architect. That was, until his brother asked him to move to Los Angeles to help him design a video game.

Unfortunately, that project failed, leaving Earls in L.A. with nothing but an art degree and a passion for drawing. That was when he stumbled upon the set of a developing, soon to be successful sci-fi television series known as “Babylon 5.”

“One of the things that benefits me in my work in film is my love for science-fiction,” Earls said.

After working on the set for “Babylon 5,” Earls was discovered and hired to work on the set of Star Trek Voyager, thus continuing working in a field he loves.

“Babylon 5 and Start Trek were the most fun jobs I’ve ever had,” Earls said.

Learning the Tools of the Trade

Earls is grateful to have the opportunity to come back to GS and tell students about his tenure in the film industry.

“I want to share the lessons that i’ve learned and give students a foundation to achieve their goals faster than i did,” Earls said.

Earls explained that in his constantly evolving field of work, it is most important to keep up with the developing technology.

“When I first started in film design, everything was hand-drawn,” Earls said.

Earls advised aspiring designers to become familiar with programs known as Sketchbook, Photoshop and Rhino because they are most widely utilized in the field today.

“The most important thing [now] is learning the programs because everything has gone digital now.”

Influences and Endurance

Earls also encouraged artists to look at concepts and designs from their favorite movies.

“Many films today have what is called an ‘Art of’ book which shows the process of the designers with their original sketches,” Earls said. “My biggest influence [in design] came from an ‘Art of Star Wars’ book i read when I was younger.”

Earls spoke while presenting a slideshow of some of the many works he has either designed or created.

From Tony Stark’s garage in Iron Man to Bruce Wayne’s Batcave in Batman vs. Superman, Earls has proven that with passion, you can achieve greatness.

Earls said,”Sometimes you hit a brick in the wall but it’s under circumstance. and if you have the ambition and drive, you can get into the film industry.”