Tag Archives: television

Fun Prop Quotes

Today, let me regale you with several quotes I’ve collected from mid-twentieth century books on props.

“One of the key jobs on any film set is that of the property master, and his range of activity is perhaps the largest of all. If it ‘moves, it’s mine,’ the prop man can say, on most occasions.”
People who Make Movies, by Theodore Taylor, 1967 (pg 76).

“In the property-maker’s room lives the wizard of the studio. He is always experimenting with new compositions with which to get the multitudinous effects that he is called on to supply. Latex, rubber solution, glues, Rhodoid, cellophane, resinous plastics, Perspex, and ingenuity – these are his materials. He is an inventor, a chemist, a bit of an artist, and an engineer.”
Designing for Films, by Edward Carrick, 1950 (pg. 106).

“The three basic types of properties are stage props, such as furniture, news desks, and lecterns; set dressings, such as pictures, draperies, and lamps, and hand props, which are items such as dishes, telephones, and typewriters actually handled by the talent.”
Television Production Handbook, 5th ed., by Herbert Zettl, 1992 (pg. 440).

“The most important part of any storage area is its retrieval efficiency. If you must search for hours to find the props to decorate your office set, even the most extensive prop collection is worth very little. Clearly label all storage areas, and then put the props and scenery back every time in the designated areas.”
Television Production Handbook, 4th ed., by Herbert Zettl, 1984 (pg. 28).

“As soon as the actors are free of books, important hand props (those handled a good deal by the actors) should be brought to rehearsal – or rehearsal substitutes provided – so actors can practise the use of them and save time at dress rehearsals.”
Directing for the Theatre, by Wieder David Sievers, 1965 (pg. 246).

Set Decorators Society of America

comic by Terry Hart
comic by Terry Hart

I haven’t done any film or television prop work, so I was unaware of them, but the Set Decorators Society of America has quite a handy website. First off, they show off the decor in films which their members have worked on. These are extensive photo-essays showing the sets from these films, often without actors in the way. You can also read interviews with their various members.

They publish many of this in their quarterly magazine. Luckily for you, you can download their back issues in PDF form… for free!

They also have a list of resources for shopping, as well as a healthy list of books to check out. Also, the comic above is by my twin brother; click on it and you can check the rest out!

Mad Men Props

I love Mad Men. If you watch the show, you know it is just jam-packed with period details and an almost obsessive attention to detail. The show takes place in and around New York City in the early 1960s. For some people, this would be a prop master’s dream; for others, a nightmare.

For Gay Perello, it’s her job. Luckily for us, AMC has been posting regular featurettes on their website about the props on Mad Men:

They seem to be making one for every episode. You can see more at the AMC Video site for Mad Men.

The AMC Blog also had a Q&A with Ms. Perello last year during the second season. Also be sure to check out the Mad Men scrapbook for up-close photographs of some of the props.