Midsummer Prop Dreams

An illustrated guide to the ‘Hamilton’ stage – David Korins takes us on a tour of the set for Hamilton and shares all the tips and secrets that make it work.

How Heisler Became TV’s Most Popular Fake Beer – Studio Graphics, the in-house graphics team at Independent Studio Services, offers a number of fake brands for sale and rent. Since the 1990s, “Heisler” has become one of their most popular brands, and has appeared in more TV shows and films than you can count.

A Janitor Preserves the Seized Belongings of Migrants – Tom Kiefer is a Customs and Border Protection janitor, and several years ago he began saving the confiscated items from migrants at the Mexico border and arranging them into a beautiful series of photos. Props is all about using objects to tell a story about people, and these objects help tell a story about a people that are often forgotten or politicized for reprehensible reasons.

Making Your Own D&D Miniatures – Make Magazine has collected a few videos showing how to make your own miniature figurines and sculptures for playing the game “Dungeons and Dragons.”

What Robert Downey Jr does before each Avengers movie – and hidden secrets behind Marvel’s props – Russell Bobbitt, the head of props for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, continues to be in the news with this latest interview. Find out more about these iconic props from the ubiquitous comic book films, such as how he had a real blacksmith craft an Infinity Gauntlet for Josh Brolin to wear during production.

Props at the End of the Week

A day in the life of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s head of props – featuring swords, fake blood, and stage secrets – Alan Smith is the head of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. Follow him for a day in his life at this iconic theater. This article has some lovely photographs that accompany it.

Russell Bobbitt – The Dash Podcast interviews Russell Bobbitt, who is in charge of the props for the entire Marvel Universe. I’ve posted plenty of articles about Russell on this blog before, but it’s great to hear him talk about his work in a much more relaxed setting.

Silk Flowers and Papier Mache Hearts – Speaking of podcasts, our very own podcast on props just published its sixth episode. Check out the interviews and episodes we already have up, and subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes!

The Practical FX of Pacific Rim: Uprising – Check out this in-depth look at various practical effects on the latest Pacific Rim film. They sculpt a giant kaiju brain among other things. The suits of armor are pretty boss also.

Props on the Agenda

The Collaborator Party 2018 – This Sunday is the Tony Awards, which means it’s also the 4th annual Collaborator Party. Be sure to attend if you are in NYC or one of the satellite venues. One of the co-hosts this year is Jay Duckworth, props director at the Public Theater. Props people are finally getting their due!

Prop Master Russell Bobbitt Reveals Movie Secrets Behind Iconic Props – This short video is mostly an ad for Zippo lighters, but it is still great to hear Russell talk about how props are used in movies. Russell is the props master for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so he is responsible for such modern-day icons like Captain America’s shield, Thor’s hammer, and the Infinity Gauntlet.

How Peak TV and DVRs Raise the Stakes for Period Props – The Hollywood Reporter talks with Ross MacDonald, Hollywood’s “go-to” for graphics props.

Zer0 Sword Build – Casey Gartung writes a step-by-step guide to building this glowing sword from the Borderlands 2 video game.

Did You Know Lex Luthor and Obi-Wan Kenobi Shared a Prop? – Now you do. The trunk that Obi-Wan kept his lightsaber in is the same trunk that Lex Luthor used to store Kryptonite.

Forging Ahead with Props

Stormbreaker – Avengers: Infinity War – MAN AT ARMS: REFORGED – If you’ve seen the new Avengers film, you know that Thor gets a pretty awesome new axe. And if you watch “Man at Arms”, you know they forge famous pop culture weapons from real steel. So buckle up as the team at Baltimore Knife Company fabricates this mythological axe/hammer combo fit for a god.

Hong Kong Court Convicts Props Master for Possession of Fake Cash – A judge in Hong Kong has convicted two film crew members for possession of fake cash from a film. Though the bills were clearly labeled as film props, and were not even attempted to be used as real currency, the crew members were still given prison sentences. This is a chilling verdict for members of the Hong Kong film industry, which is seeing more and more interference from the Chinese government.

“Costume-making Is Dying. We Can’t Get the Skills.” – The head of costumes at the Royal Opera House in London is finding it hard to staff her shop with skilled artisans. I have heard similar rumblings in the world of props. Despite the rise in hobbyist prop makers, actual professional positions are getting harder to fill. Do we, as an industry, have an obligation to train the next generation of prop artisans?

An Award For The Best Prop? – Aurelie Gandilhon asks why there is no category in any of the major performing arts awards for best prop.

New Behind The Scenes Look At The Art And Practical Effects Of ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’! – Check out all these photos and video of the animatronic dinosaurs used in the new Jurassic World films. Even though they do a lot of CGI replacement for the final film, they still build full-scale dinosaurs for filming.

Supers Must Eat, 1907

The following comes from a 1907 news article:

The supers used in big stage productions have the appetites of elephants. No food or drink used on the stage is too mean for them to neglect—provided the property man isn’t looking. They drink the cold tea as though it was really wine instead of the fake vintage. They devour the ginger cake that passes for paté de foi gras. They have even known to attack realistic papier maché grapes and ices made of cotton batting.

The play on this particular night was “Romeo and Juliet” and the scene in Juliet’s garden the pièce de résistence. The stage was filled with apple trees in bloom. White petals were scattered thickly on the cocoa matting greensward. They were not really apple blossoms, but white, pulpy popcorn, substituted for muslin flowers after many experiments, because they looked just as well and lasted longer. The fake blossoms differed from the popcorn of the candy stores in one particular. The firemen thought the pulpy corn increased the danger from fire and ordered the manager to squirt a fireproofing mixture on them.

The prompt book had this stage direction at the climax of the third act: “Romeo fights Tybalt. Murmurs off L. changing to yells. All on.” On this evening there were no murmurs, no yells, no “all” to go on. As the curtain fell, Romeo went to the stage manager, beside himself with rage.

“What the—Beg pardon—Good—Ah—,” he yelled. “Where—was—that crowd?”

“Out of business,” replied the stage manager. “They’re lying in a row down in the cellar. They ate the popcorn.”

“Supers Must Eat.” The New York Times, 16 June 1907, p. 9. New York Times Archiveshttps://nyti.ms/2LIYL5x.

Making and finding props for theatre, film, and hobbies