A and long hours due to the

A Prop
Master (i.e. Property Master) is responsible for and controls all prop objects
on a film set. Their main practices involve creating and resourcing the props
needed or creating it themselves from resourced materials. They must do well
with budgeting and be able to work within tight deadlines and long hours due to
the long research and DIY elements of their job. They are a huge part of the
art department and will usually work close with the production designer and
script supervisor to go through the script to ensure all props are accounted
for (CBC Arts, 2017) and are positioned the same way in each scene. Though the
prop master does most of their work behind the scenes, they’re usually on set
whilst the cameras are rolling to ensure the props are handled correctly and to
guarantee all props are protected from being damaged or theft after they are
used (Breman, 2016).

 

Working
practices usually involves identifying props that may have a particular visual
style, meeting producers and directors to discuss concepts, researching art
history, assessing potential studios and locations, sourcing materials,
hiring/managing an art department team, etc. Working hours for prop masters can
be extremely long as sometimes they are needed to create these products by
hand, and some which may be given to another art studio or as an art department
group. As they may need to rely on other studios or companies for their content
to be created, prop masters may go through extremely busy days tied together
with inactive moments throughout the production stages, therefore can put these
crew members under a lot of pressure and stress to get their products finished
in time.

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Overall,
prop masters give the main visual effects to the audience, as they will most
likely need to portray a theme or feeling. They need to break apart the script
and be able to visually imagine how the film will look, along with ensuring
that their image is the same as the director and producer’s. They bring a film
to life in front of the crew’s eyes even before filming and gives the director
the opportunity to get a grasp on what the film will evidently look like.

 

Levels of creativity are
essential for a prop designer, as they must ensure that the props they have
gathered meet the script/film’s overall design, setting, culture, etc. This
would be where ‘set dressing’ props come in, as they’re props that aren’t moved
or manipulated by actors (Hart, 2017, p4), but they help create a sense of
place and give off a certain atmosphere. Props can range anything from a book
or glass table to a mask or a chainsaw, depending of the film and its genre.
Certain props within films require more delicacy than others due to the way
they’re created, such as the props used for the 2009 stop-motion film
‘Coraline’. The film had a huge 450 (roughly) crew members (McNichol, 2012),
most of which were designers and animators. Although stop-motion isn’t
technically using props, several props were needed for the film, such as a
mechanical bike and a sofa, and would have been created by various prop masters
within the art department. These props would have been created to suit the dark
setting and design of the film, as well as being appropriately useable
regarding the puppet’s measurements and movements. These are the design
elements prop masters must think of and research when creating their props, as
they are most likely to have several of the same prop, therefore must be able
to recreate their original item.

Prop masters
will usually create multiple props of the same items for back-up in case of
damage, theft or fault during shooting. Doing so also allows the prop master to
continuously work on the design of the prop and possibly improve it when
creating the backups. Essentially creating these props can however be an issue
to begin with, especially if the film is set within an older time due to the
lack of products still existing. Prop masters will have to make up for said
issue and use their creativity and flexibility to create something that can go
unnoticed and blend in naturally. An example of this issue was with prop master
Scott Buckwald, who has worked on films such as ‘Race to Witch Mountain’ (2009)
and ‘The Prestige’ (2006). Within an interview with ‘Collectors Weekly’,
Buckwald discusses how he’s had to reproduce magazines or newspapers since
original 60s paper now looked “yellowed or it was faded” (Buckwald, 2009) and
had to use his own graphic designing abilities to create a replica (Keane &
Lewis, 2009). This not only shows how prop masters must have the ability to
problem solve and have the ability to think of and produce an alternative if a
needed prop in useable, but it shows the level of creativity and other skills
they must have in different areas. Although being a prop master usually
involves DIY handy work, this shows how you must have skills in other areas of
design whether it be graphics, painting etc for issues such as the one Buckwald
had.