Prop Stories for You

Artisans Balance Historical Accuracy With Audience Expectations in Awards-Contending Films – Variety talks with the props masters on several recent period films about how they balance the desire for historical accuracy with the needs of the story. Often, an adherence to strict period detail gets in the way of the film, and the choices to veer away from it have very deliberate reasons behind them.

A Touch of Magic (& Monofilament) – Jay Duckworth and his team tackle the problem of a bookshelf that needs to fall during a scene and then be reset within a six-second blackout. Hint: it involved monofilament.

See a 94-Year-Old Sphinx Emerge From Californian Sand Dunes – Archaeologists recently dug up a life-size sphinx that has been buried since 1923. It’s from the set for Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, one of the most expensive films made at that time.

A Fake-Food Maker on the Art of Creating Inedible Meals – A short article and brief video on everyone’s favorite Japanese fake food maker.

The oldest tech, theater, might be an antidote to the newest – This last article is about theater in general, not props. However, it’s an interesting perspective on how theater can become more important as technology increases, rather than becoming less relevant as many believe.

Video: Arrow Into Wall

Here is the third companion video for my upcoming book, The Prop Effects Guidebook, coming this February. The book has a few photographs demonstrating the old “shoot an arrow into the wall” trick, but this video goes into more detail and shows the trick in action.

This is a great trick for Deathtrap depending on how you stage it. I have also used this trick in Wait Until Dark, though that is a knife-throwing gag.

Arrow into Wall

These companion videos will continue to be released as we draw closer to the book’s release. You can watch all of them on YouTube.

The Prop Effects Guidebook is available for pre-order now at most major retailers. If you need a Christmas gift for that special props person, be sure to check out my first book, The Prop Building Guidebook: for Theatre, Film, and TV.

Welcome December. Welcome Prop Links

The Wild Story Behind The ‘Stranger Things’ Upside Down Tunnel Drawings – The excruciating detail which Stranger Things property master Lynda Reiss put into the tunnel drawings in the most recent season is both mind-blowing and inspiring. Guess how many crayons they went through.

Prop Master Jonathan Drover: ‘One is None’ – The props master for Dirk Gently’s Holistic Agency recently answered questions on Twitter, and the BBC has collected the best responses in this article. Find out how he built some of the show’s crazier props and what medium he likes working in the best.

From the Rockie to Reign of Fire: How Dundee pupil Chrissie carved out a career in the movies – Though she dropped out of high school, Chrissie Overs has worked as a prop builder and special effects technician on films such as AliensPrometheus, and Reign of Fire.

Robby The Robot Is Now The Most Valuable Movie Prop Sold At Auction – He sold for $5,375,000. If I could sell a prop for that much, I might be able to come under budget for my show. Might.

How NOT to build a HUGE sword prop for cosplay – Cosplayer Otakitty points out all the many mistakes she made while building a giant sword. It’s an interesting twist to the standard tutorial, and a great way to show how prop building is about making choices, and the strength or weakness of those choices are often not apparent until you’re too deep into the project to start over.

Video: Water Mist Fire Effect

I have a new book, The Prop Effects Guidebook, being published this February. It will show you how to do all sorts of magical effects, like the fire effect in the video below.

Water Mist Fire Effect video

I first saw this effect in a video from another theater (I forget which one, I’m dreadfully sorry). Our technical director at the time, Chris Simpson, recreated it and we’ve used it in several productions since then. It works best inside of a fireplace or another semi-enclosed area where you can hide all the equipment.

I will be releasing more companion videos to the book as we draw closer to the book’s release. You can watch all of them on YouTube.

The Prop Effects Guidebook is available for pre-order now at most major retailers. If you need a Christmas gift for that special props person, be sure to check out my first book, The Prop Building Guidebook: for Theatre, Film, and TV.

Video: Blood Bags

My next book, The Prop Effects Guidebook, is due out this coming February. Where The Prop Building Guidebook taught you how to construct the physical props, this new book will teach you how to do all the magic effects that a prop person is called on to provide.

I filmed a series of companion videos to the book which demonstrate the techniques and effects presented within its pages. I will be posting these videos to my blog over the next three months as we approach the book’s release date.

The first video is on blood bags, one of the essential tools for any play with a blood effect. I demonstrate how to make one using an impulse sealer.

Blood Bags

You can pre-order The Prop Effects Guidebook now at most major retailers. It will not be released in time for Christmas, but if you need a gift, The Prop Building Guidebook is sure to please the props person in your life.

Making and finding props for theatre, film, and hobbies