Tag Archives: film

Quay Brothers

photograph by Joanna Ebenstein
photograph by Joanna Ebenstein

Currently at the  Parson’s School Gallery in New York City is an exhibition of the Quay Brother’s work. From the description:

The Brothers have built a cult following with their dark, moody films, which are heavily influenced by Eastern European film, literature, and music and often feature disassembled dolls and no spoken dialogue. The exhibition combines rarely seen, collaboratively designed miniature décors from some of their most prominent works, as well as continuous screenings of excerpts from several of the films.

It’s a fascinating-looking exhibition, which I’m hoping to find time to get to. It runs until October 4th.

What really whet my appetite was a post over at Morbid Anatomy. Joanna Ebenstein wrote about her experience at the Brothers Quay exhibition:

These “décors” (in the exhibition’s parlance) are presented as static silent narrative worlds; it is as if you had peeked into each tiny space mid-shoot, characters and props all in their place, just waiting to be brought to life by the film-maker’s art.

She also took a number of fascinating photos, such as the one at the beginning of this post.

It’s fascinating to see this type of work as a props artisan, as the entire world of these story is created through objects made and manipulated. It is not just that every element seen is a handcrafted item, but in the Quay Brothers’ case, they are meticulously-detailed items as well.

You can see some films and interviews of the Quay Brothers at YouTube. If you’re in the New York City area and get a chance to see this exhibition, let me know!

20th Century Props Closing

by Marissa Roth for The New York Times
by Marissa Roth for The New York Times

2oth Century Props is one of the larger prop houses in Hollywood, serving much of the entertainment and event industry as the studios closed down their own in-house prop studios over the past two decades. Unfortunately, it is now closing.

It’s a Wrap for 20th Century Props, by Brooks Barnes in the New York Times, details the full story:

Mr. Schwartz, the owner of 20th Century Props, plans to go out of business next month and auction the inventory. Battered by the surge in out-of-state movie production and the demise of scripted programming on network television, the once-thriving business — one of a handful of its type remaining — is failing.

The company’s inventory, about 93,752 items, will be liquidated during the last week of July. They already have an eBay store, where several hundred of their items are currently up for bid.

Behind the Scenes: Props in the Movies

Nowadays, DVDs come with all sorts of special features, such as behind-the-scenes footage. Occasionally, there’s a clip about the props of the film. Oftentimes, these featurettes are fairly fluffy, presenting a couple of key props or special effects and only going so far as to show “Look, we had to make props for this movie too!” But every once in awhile, you find one  that goes a little further and shows the props people at work, with a discussion of the specific challenges the props master faced on the film or television show.

I found some of these on YouTube to share with you.

Behind the scenes – Making of the Lord of the Rings Props

Lord of the Rings took place in an entirely invented world, and so nearly all the props had to be built. It’s amazing how many artisans and craftspeople they had on this show, and this video highlights some of them.

Life on Mars Behind the Scenes with the Prop Master

Life on Mars takes place in 1973, and this video does a great job of showing how Jim Lillis, the prop master, and his team went about researching and organizing all the information they needed to prop the show.

Behind the Scenes on Supernatural

This is a bit on the fluffy side, but it is interesting to hear the Christopher Cooper, the prop master, talk about the process of creating more fantastical props for this show.

So there you have it. Are there any videos available online that you’ve found interesting or helpful? Drop a link in the comments.

Movie Prop Replicas

As I’ve mentioned a few websites dealing with film props, I thought I’d point out some communities based around replicating famous props from films. These are great resources for a lot of tutorials, such as vacuforming, casting, and working with fiberglas. They also focus on DIY and inexpensive solutions, so any prop shop can benefit from diving through the wealth of material they have.

The Replica Prop Forum – This is one of the cornerstones of the community, with members interested in props for a wide range of films. It also has discussions about costumes and scale modeling. Since it is a forum, it can take some time to navigate and search around, but it’s worth it.

TK560 – This site has tutorials and guides to building a number of props from Star Wars, Star Trek, and a number of other sci-fi films.

TK409 – Another site with tutorials for making do-it-yourself Star Wars props.

The previous two sites are part of the 501st legion, the “world’s definitive Imperial costuming organization.” It is an organization of over six thousand people who dress like members of the Empire in Star Wars. All of these sites have a plethora of links to other DIY prop and costuming resources throughout the internet.

The Magnoli Collection of Prop Replicas – Indy Magnoli’s collection of prop replicas. Most are based around the Indiana Jones’ movies, but some other films are represented as well. There are a good amount of paper props as well, with descriptions of how they were made.

That’s it for now. Let me know if there are any other sites you find interesting. You can also point out any other communities or groups which would have useful information for prop people.

Prop Makers – Priscilla Queen of the Desert

The blog for Priscilla Queen of the Desert has a posting about making the props for the show. It’s terribly short, but it does spend some time talking to Damian Edwards, one of the prop makers.  He has an interesting quote:

Making a prop for theatre is a very different proposition to making one for film. In films props are only usually used for that day and are thrown together quite quickly. In theatre the props have to be a lot sturdier as they will be used in hundreds of performances.