When I was writing my Prop Building Guidebook, I gathered together all the other books I could find that dealt with the world of props. I looked at everything from antique books to self-published pamphlets. While I could find many books on theatrical props, I found nothing written about film or television props. Sure, there were books showing pictures of the props, or maybe a bit of “behind-the-scenes” stuff tucked into a “making-of” book about a specific movie, but no books existed that were written by a film props master or for a film props master. So when I heard Steven M. Levine was publishing a book about his life as a Hollywood props master, I pre-ordered it and eagerly awaited its arrival. Continue reading
A lot of articles on props people came out this past week. Great news for those of us who like to read!
Southern California Public Radio had a talk with Jim Elyea, founder of History for Hire, the famed prop house out in Los Angeles. The interview is just under six minutes long, and well worth a listen.
Steve Levine has been a prop master for 40 years, working on films like Airplane!, Cocoon, and Apollo 13. Check out this great interview with him where he goes into detail about his lengthy career. He also has a book coming out soon, which is probably the first book about working as a Hollywood props master.
Like magic? William J. Schmeelk builds magic props and illusions for some of the top magicians in the country. Check out this article and video about his unique business.
In sadder news, Joe Longo has passed away. He was a long time prop master for Star Trek, working on The Wrath of Khan, The Search for Spock, the first five seasons of The Next Generation, and all seven seasons of Deep Space Nine. Trekcore has a collection of old interviews of Joe, including a video, while Star Trek.com has some remembrances by long-time colleagues of Longo.
Happy Friday, everyone! For those of us in the middle of holiday shows, whether Nutcracker, Christmas Carol, Tuna Christmas, or what have you, I hope it’s going well. I have some fun things from around the internet you can read:
Propnomicon has been doing some research into early shipping crates and packaging, and has shared some of the discoveries made. It may be surprising to see that manufacturers were shipping products in corrugated cardboard boxes rather than wooden crates back in the 1920s.
A short article of note tells how 3D printing is finding a home in Hollywood. Of course, regular readers of this blog already know this, but it is still interesting to see specifically how and where prop makers are using 3D printing technology.
La Bricoleuse has an interesting post up about the parasols her students made in her decorative arts class. Now I know many props masters do not consider parasols to be a “prop”; I’m sharing it because Playmakers’ props assistant (and good friend) Joncie Sarratt has a stunning diagram of the parasol she had to create for their production of Tempest.
Finally, Kamui Cosplay is poised to release The Book of Cosplay Armor Making with Worbla and Wonderflex. I haven’t seen the book yet, but if it is anything like her tutorials, it’s sure to be a very informative look at working with various low-temperature thermoplastics.
The following amusing anecdote was found in a 1937 issue of The Christian Science Monitor.
An ingenious piece of fiction from one of the studios tells of the literary adventures of one Arthur Camp, a property man. It seems (according to this press release) that Camp needed a manuscript rejection slip for use in a picture to which he had been assigned.
Prop men pride themselves on being able to produce anything, so Camp sat down and penned an article on movie-making and sent it to a national magazine.
He thought, of course, that he would get it back with a rejection slip. However (surprise! surprise!), the magazine bought the article.
Of course, Camp could have had the studio printshop make up some of the slips. Or he could have borrowed one from any of a thousand unsuccessful Hollywood authors. But that wouldn’t have made a good story. —Milwaukee Journal.
This article was found in the Christian Science Monitor, December 27, 1937.
Here is a short piece from CBS about History for Hire, the famous North Hollywood prop rental house. It deals specifically with their work on the film The Artist. It’s a bit dumbed down for a non-props person audience, but it’s still a nice look into History for Hire’s stock.
Update: Sorry, I didn’t realize the video wouldn’t appear in this post; you have to follow the link to watch it. The horror!