Tag Archives: Hollywood

Friday Props in the News

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.

Friday Prop Links

Happy Friday, everyone! For those of us in the middle of holiday shows, whether NutcrackerChristmas CarolTuna 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.

Prop Man’s Predicament, 1937

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.

Props for Hollywood Props

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.

Props to Hollywood Props

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!

Links for a Taxing Weekend

You have only a little more than two weeks left to enter my Prop Building Guidebook Contest! Don’t wait until the last minute to enter. I also wanted to point out that a week from Monday (April 22nd), you can start voting for your favorite prop in the contest; tell your friends they can vote for your prop once per day until the contest ends on April 30th. In addition to winners in each of the individual categories, the prop with the most votes will win its own prize category, so vote early and vote often! And now, onto the links.

Here is a fantastic article about the guys at Spectral Motion, one of Hollywood’s finest creature shops. They’re responsible for most of the monsters in the Hellboy films, as well as for work in X-Men: Last StandBlade:Trinity, and this summer’s Pacific Rim. The article is replete with information about how they got started, what kind of work they do, and what inspires them. It is also heavily illustrated with photographs showing their workshop and the inner workings of some of their creatures. I especially love the following quote about why practical effects are still necessary in an era of digital mimicry:

“A lot of times people turn to digital solutions. That’s also good, if the application is correct. But, you know, a lot of directors that we talk to are of the mind that a practical effect is far better for exactly that reason–because the actor does have a co-actor to work with, to play off of, and to have feelings about.”

I came across this short interview with Mickey Pugh, prop master on films such as Saving Private Ryan and Last of the Mohicans.

From the prop masters email list this week comes Click Americana, an ongoing collection of vintage photos and ephemera from all decades of American history. You can search for specific topics or just browse through by decade, from the 1820s to the 1980s. It has a whole section dedicated to recipes, too, great for when you need to provide period food.

And finally, if you missed my Tweet this week, I shared this video looking at the blood effects in Trinity Rep’s Social Creatures, a “zombie” play now running. Production director Laura Smith and assistant props master Natalie Kearns show us how they make the blood and organs squirt and fly.