The Master of Paper Props – Great Big Story visits Ross MacDonald’s shop to see how he makes paper props for movies and television shows. This video delves into his process and into the power of paper props in general. If you haven’t seen Ross’ work before, this blog has covered him many times over the past nine years.
Want my job? with Khadija Raza, set and costume designer – Khadija talks with Voice about her job as a theatre designer in anticipation of TheatreCraft, the UK’s largest theatrical careers event for 16-30 year-olds.
Shrinking the world: why we can’t resist model villages – Simon Garfield ponders why we are drawn to miniature urban landscapes and why model builders feel compelled to create them. Along the way, he treats us to many photographs of some of the world’s finest examples of miniatures and model towns.
Original Big Bird, Caroll Spinney, Leaves ‘Sesame Street’ After Nearly 50 Years – In case you missed the news a few weeks ago, Caroll Spinney is retiring from Sesame Street after its 50th Anniversary special. Spinney has played both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since the show’s inception, making him one of the last original cast members to leave the show. The New York Times has this fantastic retrospective of his career.
Mortal Artists – The Craftsmen | Episode 3 – The upcoming Mortal Engines film features massive mobile cities that prowl a post-apocalyptic landscape. This video looks at all the prop builders who constructed the imaginative weapons and devices that make up this world.
An illustrated guide to the ‘Hamilton’ stage – David Korins takes us on a tour of the set for Hamilton and shares all the tips and secrets that make it work.
How Heisler Became TV’s Most Popular Fake Beer – Studio Graphics, the in-house graphics team at Independent Studio Services, offers a number of fake brands for sale and rent. Since the 1990s, “Heisler” has become one of their most popular brands, and has appeared in more TV shows and films than you can count.
A Janitor Preserves the Seized Belongings of Migrants – Tom Kiefer is a Customs and Border Protection janitor, and several years ago he began saving the confiscated items from migrants at the Mexico border and arranging them into a beautiful series of photos. Props is all about using objects to tell a story about people, and these objects help tell a story about a people that are often forgotten or politicized for reprehensible reasons.
Making Your Own D&D Miniatures – Make Magazine has collected a few videos showing how to make your own miniature figurines and sculptures for playing the game “Dungeons and Dragons.”
What Robert Downey Jr does before each Avengers movie – and hidden secrets behind Marvel’s props – Russell Bobbitt, the head of props for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, continues to be in the news with this latest interview. Find out more about these iconic props from the ubiquitous comic book films, such as how he had a real blacksmith craft an Infinity Gauntlet for Josh Brolin to wear during production.
First off – the second edition to The Prop Building Guidebook is finally here! Go buy it so I can feed my babies! And if you like it, please leave a review on Amazon or wherever you purchase it from. And if you really like it (or you really liked the first edition), feel free to shoot me an email; the sad fact of being an author is you do not know how people are using your book unless they decide to tell you.
What’s in a letter? Prop or prank? – The Chasing Aideen blog has a fascinating look at prop letters on stage. Through conversations with directors and historical artifacts, we get a glimpse of how prop letters range from nonsensical scribbles to fully-realized reproductions from the imaginary world of the play.
Skylight Music Theatre’s ‘Beast’ puppet a giant thing of beauty – It really is. This massive, fully-articulated puppet looks like it stepped straight out of a Guillermo del Toro film.
Adam Savage Behind the Scenes of Ghost in the Shell! – In this video, Adam Savage heads to New Zealand to see some of the practical masks and animatronics which Weta Workshop designed and produced for the upcoming Ghost in the Shell film. The aesthetic is an amazing blend of smooth futuristic tech with old-world hand craftsmanship.
The Make: Guide to Dungeon Master Crafting – A lot of props people love models and miniatures, and a few enjoy playing Dungeons and Dragons. Make has put together a guide of some fine tutorials on how to make your own miniature terrain and buildings for whatever role-playing games you prefer.
And finally, I’ve started this Instagram thing where I’m sharing all my photographs of prop shops, prop builders at work, and other backstage theater stuff. Come check it out!
So this is from way back in January, but I somehow missed it. The “in 1 Podcast” talked with Kathy Fabian about her life as a Broadway props master. It’s two and a half hours of fascinating conversation about what it takes to prop a show in New York City and getting a production up and running on the Great White Way.
The Prop Solve makes this cool Dr. Strangelove Survival Pack which doubles as a camera carrying case. I don’t run across too many soft goods props projects, so it’s wonderful to see so many photos of her process from start to finish.
Maine State Music Theatre posted this quick little time lapse video showing their prop department live casting the face of an actor for their upcoming production of Evita. It looks like they’re using one of those new body-safe silicone rubbers, which I haven’t really seen in action before.
Frank Ippolito shares his process of building historical fantasy costume armor for the upcoming E3 convention. It sounds like a costume project, but it involves a lot of crafts and materials we use in props.
Finally, Cinefex takes a peek into the model-making shop behind Team America: World Police. Don’t worry, there aren’t any pictures of rude puppets here; just great photos of miniature buildings and vehicles.
Whew, another big week. I had a baby this past Sunday. President Obama declared it the National Week of Making. And for my British readers, you can always come over here to make props if you don’t like how things are going in your country (though you may want to wait until after November in case things go poorly here). But for now, onto the links:
Making theater magic, one prop at a time – The Queens Chronicle looks at Zoe Morsette, a prop maker in Long Island City. Over her multi-decade career, she has made props for many Broadway musicals, as well as 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live.
Theatre excels at exposing injustices, just not its own – A great article on how backstage workers often work unpaid hours, have mis-classified contracts, or are otherwise taken advantage of by theatre companies. Though this is written about theatre in the UK, the same conditions exist throughout the US. In many cases, the common practices are so ingrained, that most theatre people do not even realize many of them are illegal. Unpaid internships are one of the biggest offenders, as are paying workers with a 1099 rather than a W-2.
Ming Cho Lee: Set Designer Extraordinaire – Ming Cho Lee, one of the godfathers of American set design, is having an exhibition of his work at New York’s Museum of Chinese in America. It showcases much of his work, from Shakespeare in the Park to Broadway.
Miniature models built by Markus – Finally, check out this video on the miniature work of Markus Rothkranz. He has been making highly detailed miniatures and models for TV and film for several decades.