Tag Archives: resume

Props Talk from the Prop Stock

A Guide to Applying for Props Jobs – Natalie Kearns and Karin Rabe Vance have put together the ultimate guide to resumes, cover letters, portfolios, and interviews for the props person.

Reflections on the First USITT Props Lab – Jay Duckworth brings us the run down on the inaugural Props Lab at the 2018 USITT Conference in Fort Lauderdale.

Making a Cardboard RPG – A prop builder named Blackfish made this cardboard rocket-propelled grenade that actually fires an exploding projectile. The video shows how it was done, and they have templates available as well.

Great Tips And Tricks For Bondo And Resin Casting – Grab your respirator and open a window! Eric Strebel brings us this video of different ways to use Bondo as a building material.

Stories for the Prop Person

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.

Perfecting your technical theatre resume

It’s job-hunting season in the technical theatre world, especially for those of you just graduating. SETC is only a day away, and USITT is right around the corner. If you are looking to get a gig at a summer theatre, now is the time to apply. Not next month. Now.

You need a résumé if you’re going to do this right. You can find lots of help with crafting a résumé in general, but not much on a technical theatre one specifically. Here are a few tips to help you on your way.

List your objective.

Somewhere at the top near your name, you should list what you do: prop builder, props master, stage manager, etc. Some websites will tell you listing an objective is not necessary, but for a technical theatre person, it is. Particularly when you are going to a conference or a job fair, you will probably have one representative from a company collecting all the résumés from applicants, then dividing them up between the appropriate departments back at the office. It’s helpful for them to know at a glance whether a résumé should go to electrics, carpentry or costumes. Plus, it tells them which job you are interested in. You don’t want your résumé handed to the master electrician if you want the props master to look at it.

Drop names within reason.

It is helpful to list the names of directors and designers you work with since the technical theatre world is small. Chances are, your interviewer may recognize someone on your résumé, and it will give them an idea of what kind of environments you have worked in. However, when you are just starting out, you may have only college shows listed, or the shows from one small professional gig. I’ve seen résumés where the applicant has only worked with one designer, but they list them over and over again, so that an entire column is just one name repeated on down the line. If the majority of your work is done under one or two people, they should either be one of your references, or listed just once in your work experience.

Also, don’t make a mess with all the names you drop. Any name you put on your résumé can potentially be contacted by the company interviewing you. Don’t list someone because you were in the same room as them for ten minutes. The employer may call them and be like, “Hey, you ever work with Joey Bookcase?” And that person will be all like, “No, I ain’t never heard of no Joey Bookcase!” That’s how people in technical theatre talk to each other.

Check your speling.

This should go without saying, but with the résumés I see, it unfortunately needs to be said more. If you can’t take the time to read your résumé once for spelling errors, why should an employer take the time to read it? If you don’t notice a misspelled word on the most important representation of your work, I may assume you won’t notice your prop still has a bit of wet paint on it as you hand it to the actress in her hand-dyed silk dress.

Check the work of others.

If you have no idea how to start a résumé, start looking up people in your field, especially those with jobs you aspire to. Most professionals have their résumé online. You can see how they organize it, what kind of information they list, and how they design it. Here, you can start with mine.

Finding a Job in Film (for Prop Makers)

If you ask ten prop makers how they began building props for film, you will get ten different answers. It usually involves some combination of luck, timing, and knowing the right person. While theatre has seasonal employment, apprenticeships and internships which you can find advertised as well as job fairs which feature employers that regularly hire prop people, the world of film has no such thing. You can’t learn about it in a book (believe me—I’ve looked). So how do you get started?

I also want to add that I am writing this as I figure it out; I am pretty much a prop maker for theatre, and my film credits are, well… I haven’t done any film. But this is similar to how I began to get work in the display and exhibition world, and that kept me fairly well employed for a few years. So if any of may readers have advice to add, I’m sure all of us, myself included, will be grateful for it.

To start, find out where the props are being built. Continue reading Finding a Job in Film (for Prop Makers)

Making a props portfolio part 1

Having a portfolio of your work is a must for finding new jobs as a props artisan. I’ve broken the process of putting a portfolio together into two parts. Today’s part will focus on what to put in your portfolio, while the second part will show how to present your portfolio.  I’m not going to say this is the best or even the correct way to make a portfolio; it’s my way. But I’ve shown my portfolio to many professionals who have reviewed it, and I’ve gotten all my jobs with it, so this guide is coming from some experience.

What goes in your portfolio? Continue reading Making a props portfolio part 1