How To Become A Prop Maker!
- Making props for the property department
- Adapting or modifying bought-in props
- Researching specialist props
To do this role, you will need to:
- Have a wide knowledge of the basics of prop making
- Have good knowledge of computer design packages
- Be able to work safely with materials like fibreglass, latex, foam and polystyrene
- Be able to work with a variety of different machinery and tools
- Have some specialist skills such as sign writing, upholstery, sculpture, casting, furniture making
- Be flexible and versatile
- Be able to work with imagination and ingenuity
- Have good creative problem solving skills
- Be open to new ideas
- Be open to learning new skills and techniques
- Be able to work to external deadlines
- Be able to work on your own initiative
- Have a good eye for detail and accuracy
- Have good communication skills
- Be good at working in a team
- Be aware of relevant health and safety laws and procedures
What does a Prop Maker do?
Prop Makers are given instructions, designs or rough ideas by the Production Designer, Art Director or Property Master. Before the shoot, Prop Makers plan and create the required props.
They may carry out their own research into the style and specifications of the props. On period films, this may also involve finding out how the objects would have been created during a particular historical period and culture. They liaise with production buyers to get all the right tools and materials. They may also be asked to adapt hired or bought in props as necessary. They normally produce a minimum of two of every item, in case of damage.
Propmakers make a huge range of objects including ‘stunt’ props – replicas of other props, made of soft or non-hazardous materials – and specialised objects that move or light up. Prop Makers they may also make props requiring specialist skills, such as sign writing, upholstery work, mould work, woodturning, sculpture, casting, furniture making, modelling, electrical engineering and electronics, or papier-mâché.
Prop Makers make the props, working within a budget, and to strict deadlines. During the shoot they may be responsible for operating any special props, or for teaching Actors how they work. They may work alone, or as part of a larger Props team in a specially created Production workshop.
Will I need a qualification?
You will generally need a qualification in art and design, or model making. Many Prop Makers train in stage and set design, or stage management, or complete a theatre technician’s course in performing arts. You might also need more specialised training in areas like graphic design, furniture making or fine art.
What’s the best route in?
You will need to build up experience in the basics of prop making. You can get started in junior roles in the art department and learn skills on the job.