Tag Archives: gigs

Read my book online now!

Okay, you can’t read my whole book online. But I do have two whole chapters you can check out on The Prop Building Guidebook’s companion website.

What are these chapters, you may ask? Well, as you can imagine, prop making covers a vast amount of information, and choosing what to put in and what to leave out was one of my biggest challenges. We could have made the book longer, but that would have pushed the price up, which we didn’t want to do. We could have made the pictures smaller, but that would not be good either. In the end, we decided to take the last two chapters and put them up on the website for free. This way, the book can remain affordable, the pictures can remain a decent size, and you get a sneak peek at some of the book. These chapters have been edited and proofed just like everything else in the book, they just appear online rather than in print.

The two chapters are called “Formal Training” and “Maintaining a Portfolio”. The first digs through the tricky question of what kind of training or schooling you may wish to pursue to become a better prop maker. Vocational classes, colleges and universities, graduate schools and more are talked about here. I also look at the various types of jobs and work one can get. I present information useful whether you wish to be a prop maker for film, television, theatre or any of the related industries, and whether you wish to pursue a full-time job or work as a freelancer on different gigs. It can be a tricky field to navigate, so I try to present as much information as I’ve gleaned along the way.

The second chapter gives an introduction on creating and maintaining a portfolio of all the work you do. I discuss both online sites and paper portfolios; though paper portfolios have become far less prevalent these days, I’ve still used them in the last couple of years, both in applying for work and in hiring people. This chapter also discusses photography and how to take better pictures of your work. A bad picture of a good prop can make it look like a bad prop.

So check out the bonus chapters of The Prop Building Guidebook when you can. And don’t forget to pre-order your copy if you haven’t already!

Finding a Job in Film (for Prop Makers)

If you ask ten prop makers how they began building props for film, you will get ten different answers. It usually involves some combination of luck, timing, and knowing the right person. While theatre has seasonal employment, apprenticeships and internships which you can find advertised as well as job fairs which feature employers that regularly hire prop people, the world of film has no such thing. You can’t learn about it in a book (believe me—I’ve looked). So how do you get started?

I also want to add that I am writing this as I figure it out; I am pretty much a prop maker for theatre, and my film credits are, well… I haven’t done any film. But this is similar to how I began to get work in the display and exhibition world, and that kept me fairly well employed for a few years. So if any of may readers have advice to add, I’m sure all of us, myself included, will be grateful for it.

To start, find out where the props are being built. Continue reading

Finding a job in Props

I wanted to share some of the websites I use or have used to find jobs as a props artisan in theatre.

ArtSearch – ArtSearch has the most jobs listings for educational, regional, and non-profit theatres across the United States. You need a subscription to access it. If you attend school, they might have a subscription you can use. Otherwise, it’s well worth it to buy your own.

BackstageJobs – BackstageJobs has similar postings as ArtSearch, but also more commercial, temporary, and overhire gigs. They have sections for Chicago, LA, and NYC, but their job postings are from all over the country.

Playbill – Playbill’s listings can be more show-specific, meaning short-term employment for a single show, but they also list internships and full-time positions. It’s also fairly NYC-centric, but a small percentage of their listings are from elsewhere.

Craigslist – The helpfulness of using Craigslist to find work depends on where you live. While searching for prop jobs in Guam may be fairly fruitless, the New York City Craigslist is so active you can spend your entire year finding short-term gigs from it. Note that almost all the job listings are for immediate or near-immediate positions, and a large percentage are freelance or temporary work. Still, it can do a good job helping you pay the bills in between larger gigs, and you may even find other industries where your skills come in handy.

USITT – Their job listings can be annoyingly meager at times. For the most part, they advertise positions in educational theatre. More helpful is actually attending the annual USITT conference, which just ended this last weekend. They also have local chapters throughout the country, which may have more frequent events and networking opportunities.

SETC – The South Eastern Theatre Conference’s job listings are also focused primarily on positions in educational theatre and internships. Like USITT, their yearly conference, which has also passed for this year, is a great place to find jobs. They hold a job fair, which is a major recruiting ground for summer work in many theatres, large and small.

I’ve found work from most of these sites, as both a young beginner, and as a more experienced artisan. I should also mention that job listings are only a portion of the job search experience. I wouldn’t be surprised if over half of my jobs and gigs were from word-of-mouth, or through someone I know.

There are a number of more local sites as well. When I was living in Philadelphia, I checked the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia for job listings. Your town, city, or region may have something similar.

If anyone knows of any other sites for finding prop job listings, feel free to share.