Fake ‘n Bake: Ay-may! – It has been nearly four years since the Fake n’ Bake blog was regularly updated. That is about to change as the talented Aimee Plant takes over the site! Fake ‘n Bake has long been one of the go-to destinations for making fake food, and I am looking forward to learning some all new tips and tricks.
20 Secrets Behind the Scenic Designs for Wicked, Sweeney Todd, and More – Playbill looks at the design work of Eugene Lee and presents some of his early drawings, models, and renderings for his iconic sets. I count maybe a dozen secrets, so I don’t know where the other eight are. Still, it’s a great glimpse into the evolution of his work.
Polone: The Unglamorous, Punishing Hours of Working on a Hollywood Set – I’ve never worked on a film set, but a lot of my readers have. Fourteen to sixteen hour days are the norm, and it destroys the body, ruins relationships, and has even led to death. It seems insane to have such brutal working conditions in an industry with so much money.
When a stagehand gets hurt, who pays? – Speaking of bad working conditions, we’ve probably all worked at a company that wrongly paid us with a 1099 instead of a W-2. Besides the tax issues that arise, this also means the company is not covering you under their worker’s compensation insurance, so when you get hurt moving a large statue of Virgin Mary during a scene change, you’re on the hook for your medical bills. This article highlights some of the theatre workers fighting to change all that.
Below the Surface – The River Amstel in Amsterdam was recently pumped dry, and archaeologists were able to dig up over 700,000 objects that spanned several centuries worth of history. They have photographed over 11,000 of these artifacts and present them at this website. The objects range from contemporary gambling tokens to prehistoric pottery fragments.
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.
Some of you already saw this yesterday, but I began a quick little survey on how your theatre uses fire and pyrotechnics. Please take a moment to fill it out; it will only take 3 to 5 minutes. Even if your theatre bans all types of fire down to the smallest candle, that information will still be useful.
Take a listen to this podcast with Ellen Freund, a prop master in film and television for 35 years. Her credits include Mad Men, Masters of the Universe, Night at the Museum, Twilight (no, not that Twilight), Twilight Saga: New Moon (yes, that Twilight), and so many more.
Karestin Harrison and Tammy Honesty are working on a recipe book of fake food due out in early 2018. Rosco has a few sample recipes up on their blog. It’s a much needed and much anticipated book for many prop builders, and one more step for Routledge in creating the ultimate prop library.
Collectors Weekly consistently publishes the most in-depth and interesting articles, and this one on the history of Holiday windows is no exception. After reading the article, take a moment to go through the photo gallery showing Holiday windows dating as far back as the 1800s.
Finally, in angrier news, the UC San Diego Department of Theatre and Dance and La Jolla Playhouse recently laid off 21 production employees, and then “invited” them to reapply for their jobs at a severe pay cut. These employees include most of the department heads of the various production departments, including the props master. Read this article on Broadway World for the specifics of how and why this happened, then head on over to the UCSD Theatre & Dance – Help Save Our Jobs! Facebook Group to see what you can do to help and to continue following the story.
The following is the third part of an article which appeared in an 1884 issue of the Bismarck Weekly Tribune. The first part and second part were posted previously:
“Stage banquets, suppers and meals of all kinds often put the ingenuity of the property man to a severe test. If the manager is economical the most elegant banquets are but hollow mockeries. The turkeys and chickens, which seem to spectators to be roasted to such a delicious degree of brownness, are only brown holland stuffed with sawdust. The wines are cold tea or water colored with burnt sugar. Sometimes they are drunk from pasteboard goblets and then they are purely imaginary. Do you remember Dickens’ description of how Mr. Crummles used to take long draughts of nothing out of the pasteboard goblets in banquet scenes?”
“Yet in these banquet scenes the people eat something?”
“Oh, yes. It is essential to the action that they shall eat. There is always a plate of bread and one of cold meat. They look at the elegant turkeys, chickens, etc, and eat the bread and meat. If the manager is liberal, however, a stage banquet is sometimes a meal at which no epicure would turn up his nose. This is always the case under Lester Wallack’s management. He gives his companies splendid suppers and real champagne. Poor Matilda Heron always did so, too, when she played Camille, and Albina de Mer, the wife of M. B. Curtis revived this good old custom in the same play when she starred it last season, presenting a bill of fare which included oysters, raw and fried, roast turkey, chicken salad and real wines.”
“The Property Man”, The Bismarck Weekly Tribune, Oct 31, 1884, pg 2. Reprinted from The Philadelphia Times.
The folks over at Center Theatre Group had to make a whole lot of fake salad for their production of Women Laughing Alone With Salad. Find out how Jon Ward and his props team honed in on the perfect recipe for a pretend salad.
Here we have 9 Real Job Skills You Lean From Being a Cosplayer, which is remarkably similar to the job skills you learn from being a prop maker. Of course, that assumes that they ever let you out of the props shop to look for another job. Back to work!
Whatever happened to Tony Montana’s “Little Friend”? Not that I was wondering, but this Hollywood Reporter article is a fascinating look at an iconic movie prop. Watch as it meanders its way around LA over the next few decades, popping up in other films here and there.
If you’ve never seen Adam Savage’s One Day Builds, you’re missing out! In his latest, he builds a sword from Hellboy. What makes these great is that they do not really skip over anything; it’s just a cameraman in the shop, showing every step he takes, and every mistake he makes. I also like how he doesn’t really use anything that’s out of the realm of the average props shop. His materials come from typical hardware stores and auto body shops, and his tools are pretty standard issue (well, that disc sander is kind of a beast).
You wouldn’t be a props person if you didn’t use hot glue. Make Magazine has 7 cool tips for working with hot glue.