Friday Night Sites

I guess Harbor Freight finally realized that they are a top destination for cosplayers and prop makers here in the US. They posted their top 10 must-have cosplay tools/accessories.

Prop maker Gemma Wright has been working on an exquisitely detailed replica of the game board from Jumanji. Check out the months-long process on her blog, or skip to the summary and photographs on this post at Nerdist.

Chris Schwartz has some good thoughts and advice on how to store your hand tools (be sure to check out parts two and three as well). Of course, props get a little more complicated because we have tools from many disciplines, and never build the same thing twice, but the basic principles here are still worth exploring for your own hand tool storage area.

Another Friday of Links

Jesse Gaffney, who runs the Theatre Projects blog, is interviewed on the Oak Park Festival Theatre blog. She shares how she got started as a props master and what some of her favorite parts of the job are.

Conan’s prop master Bill Tull is back with some tips on having summer fun on a budget.

Andrea Cantrell, prop master for Dallas (the new version currently on TNT, not the original), shares some behind-the-scenes stories from the show.

WM Armory shares a pretty easy and full-proof method for inscribing detail lines into EVA foam. Thanks to Propnomicon for the link!

IATSE Job Classifications

I’ve come across the following lists of duties and responsibilities for various members of the props department in a number of places. These are the IATSE job classifications for union members working in film. I have noticed some theatres will use these as starting points to develop their own job descriptions for people in the props department as well. Property Master The duties of the Property Master shall include preparation of a hand prop breakdown, with scene allocations as per the shooting script; to research the historical period of said administered hand props; to prepare, build and procure props to be seen on camera; the repair and return of props to original condition and source; arranging for all necessary permits to convey restricted weapons; co-ordinate with the Wardrobe Department the required accessories; while on set, the Prop Master will administer props to artists, strike and reset hot sets established by the Set Decorators, with the aid of Polaroid’s, photographs or sketches; consult with the Script Supervisor on the continuity of hand props; responsible for the disbursement of the assigned budget; and delegate the work required for the efficient operation of the Department. Assistant Property Master Duties are acts as the Prop Master’s representative on the set; during pre-production helps with script and prop breakdown; in the Prop Master’s absence this person can be left in charge of the props on shooting set; makes sure that the set and props are as the Props Master wishes them to be; oversees the supplying and loading of the truck; has the ability to oversee the set and props in a camera ready condition; has the ability to oversee the set and prop continuity; and can perform these duties in an unsupervised role. Additionally, this person must hold a valid Firearms Acquisition Certificate; carry the Motion Picture Firearms Safety Course card; be knowledgeable in the building and repair of props; be knowledgeable in the handling of firearms; the safe use of firearms and the blank firing of firearms; and carries the same responsibilities for the safety of artists and shooting crew when it comes to the firing of blanks as the Props Master. Props Buyer Performs those duties as delegated by the Property Master. Armour Must have Fire Arms Acquisition Certificate and no criminal record. Responsible for maintaining safety on set in relation to weapons and ammunition, including but not limited to determining the distance for all loads; ¼, ½ and full loads and as such providing plexi-glass shields, etc. when required. Order all weapons, permits, ammunition etc. and inspect them as a safety precaution. Responsible for the distribution and collection of the weapons to talent and background performers. Warn to the cast and crew prior to firing weapons, secure area effected. Along with performing those duties as delegated by the Property Master. Props Builder Work with wood, leather, and metal must have carpentry skills, and perform duties as delegated by the Property Master. Props Assistant Performs those duties as delegated by the Property Master. Props Men/Women or Props Crew Performs those duties as delegated by the Property Master

The Hands that Make ParaNorman

The Hands that Make ParaNorman

ParaNorman is a film from 2012 made by the same folks as Coraline. Like Coraline, the film is composed almost entirely of stop-motion animation, using color 3D printers to make many of the replacement parts for the character faces. Still, it also used a ton of hand-building, particularly for the props, set dressing, and vividly-detailed landscapes. Check out this all-too-brief featurette on the hands that made the world of ParaNorman. So many model houses. So many tiny props.

Friday Rehearsal Notes

I have an article out in this month’s Stage Directions magazine, hot off the presses. For “Cabinet of Wonders“, I spoke with Marc André Roy, the lighting project manager on Kurios, the new show from Cirque du Soleil. Kurios has a lot of props with wireless lighting and motion effects, and we looked at how Cirque makes that happen. I also talked with James Smith at RC4 Wireless, where all the wireless dimmers that Cirque uses are made. You may remember my blog post on my trip to RC4 Wireless earlier this summer.

These photographs of the inventories of British Soldiers are endlessly fascinating and useful. Thom Atkinson has taken all the gear and paraphernalia that a British soldier was issued at various times in history over the past 1000 years, and laid it all out on the floor. If you wanted to know what an archer was carrying at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 (say, if you’re doing Henry V), this is where you should go.

The Examiner has a great interview and profile of Beth Hathaway, a master of building creatures for film. Hathaway has been a fabrication specialist at Stan Winston Studios and KNB EFX for decades, working on projects such as Edward Scissorhands, Jurassic Park, Terminator 2Star Trek: The Next Generation and The Walking Dead.

Finally, check out this LA Times story on Nick Metropolis, the famed LA store filled with junk and jumble of all varieties.

Making and finding props for theatre, film, and hobbies