Inside the One-ton, History-making King Kong Broadway Musical – Where does a 2000 pound gorilla puppet sit? Wherever he wants! Find out all the technical wizardry that went into creating one of the largest and most expressive puppets to ever grace Broadway.
Exclusive: Head Prop Maker Pierre Bohanna Talks ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald’ – The latest film in the wizard world of Harry Potter is coming out soon, so The Knockturnal sat down with the head prop maker, Pierre Bohanna. Pierre has worked on all the previous Harry Potter films as well, so this is old hat to him. Old sorting hat, that is!
Secrets of the Solo: a Star Wars Story Creature Shop – Despite its unimpressive cinema run, Solo was actually one of the most expensive Star Wars films made, and was packed to the gills with practical creature effects. Puppeteer Brian Herring talks about how they brought all those crazy aliens to life.
Need a giant glacier? An Eiffel Tower? Tampa prop master Tandova Ecenia is selling them off after 38 years – Tandova has been supplying the Tampa area of Florida with props for nearly four decades. Take a peek into her storage facility before it is all sold off and scattered to the wind.
Players Pen: Setting a scene on stage is as much about the props as it is about the actors – Take a look at how props designer Wendy Huber and prop shop manager Kristen Nuh brought the nerdy world of Salvage to life on this Green Bay stage.
My newest book, The Prop Effects Guidebook: Lights, Motion, Sound, and Magic, is finally getting into the hands of people. If you have bought a copy, please leave me a review on Amazon or wherever you purchased it from. You are also always free to email me directly to let me know what you think! And now, onto this week’s stories:
A Word to the Wise on Resumes & Cover Letters – Jay Duckworth brings us some advice on writing resumes and cover letters from the Public Theater Props Department, which receives 100-200 resumes a year. Always remember to spelcheck before sending one out!
Building a Puppet With The Broken Nerd – Broken Nerd brings us this super helpful video showing how to build a Muppet-style hand puppet. The ending is especially cute.
Why Mary Robinette Kowal Traded in Puppets for Science Fiction – Though largely know for her science fiction and fantasy novels, some of us knew Mary Robinette Kowal back when she was a puppeteer. This is a great little article on how and why she made the transition, and how her theatre background informs her writing.
Secret Cinema – A New Life Awaits You – Cinefex has an interesting article about London’s “Secret Cinema,” which brings an interactive element to watching films. Sets, props, and costumes combine with live performance to create an otherworldly street fair surrounding the screening of a movie. It seems like the kind of thing a prop builder would love to get involved with.
BB-8 and Porg Puppeteer Brian Herring on His Journey to the Last Jedi – This is a great interview with the puppeteer who operated numerous Star Wars puppets during its filming, including BB-8 and the Porgs. I love the behind-the-scenes images showing how much of these creatures were done practically, rather than digitally.
Virtual Author Talk: The Prop Effects Guidebook – I talked about my newest book, The Prop Effects Guidebook, with the Virtual Costumer magazine. The book had some publishing delays, but it should start shipping out this week if you have pre-ordered it.
Props and SFX Guru, Jennie Marino, will present “Don’t Miss” Storied Show & Tell/Seminar – If you are in Burlington, NJ, on May 20th, be sure to check out this lecture and workshop by Jennie Marino. She has built props, puppets, and masks on over forty-five Broadway productions, as well as countless Off-Broadway and television shows. The event is about an hour-and-a-half from NYC, but it is only a short hop over the river from Philadelphia if that is your home.
Cara Cooper, Jessica Rush, and Celia Keenan-Bolger on Broadway Baby Mamas – Though focused on performers, a lot of these issues are similar for new mothers working in theatre design and tech. Some theaters have made good strides toward being more family-friendly, but we still have a long way to go.
Every Halloween, an Oakland Man Stages Spooky Marionette Shows in His Driveway – This man is living the dream. As the title says, Larry Schmidt has been putting on a Halloween marionette show in his Oakland, CA, neighborhood for the past 11 years.
8 Cosplayers Share Their Tips, Tools, and Ingenuity – Make Magazine showcases eight different cosplayers and their fantastic costumes. Many of their tips are useful for prop builders as well.
Hollywood’s Female Crewmembers Suffer Harassment Without the Platform of Stardom – While harassment of actresses has been in the news lately, the ongoing and pervasive harassment of female crew members is less visible. In theatre, the problem is even less acknowledged; as far as I’ve seen, none of the backstage publications have addressed the continuing problem of sexual harassment of women theatre technicians, designers, and students.
How to make a Shishkebab Prop from Fallout 4 – Zonbi brings us this video showing how she built this flaming sword weapon from the popular Fallout 4 video game. The materials are inexpensive, but the result is pretty hot.
Yolanda Baker is the Last Disco Ball Maker. She has made tens of thousands of mirror balls by hand for the past fifty years at Omega National Products in Louisville, the last American manufacturer of this iconic object. Chances are, if you have a US mirror ball, it was made by her. She even did all the balls in Saturday Night Fever.
Make Magazine shows us How to Make Breakaway Bottles and Window Panes. They use sugar glass, ugggggghhh. The process they describe is easy enough to adapt to isomalt, though, which is superior to sugar glass.
Adam Savage visits Weta Workshop’s Model Painting Shop. Adam seems to be visiting all sorts of cool places lately, and the model painting studio at the shop that built Lord of the Rings is no exception. Check out all the cool work they did while learning some painting tips for yourself.
PuppetVision has a Pinterest board with 92 pins of Animatronics & Puppet Mechanisms. You can spend days looking at all the clever ways to make objects move and come to life.
“Designing Windows is an Art”. Take a look at this interview with Erin O’Brien, a freelance window designer at Bergdorf Goodman in London. She talks about how she got started and shows off some examples of her work over the years.