Best place to find who made the original props for films

SideSalad0212

New Member
Hey all,
I'm currently studying special effects modelmaking for TV and Film in university. My current module is History and Replication and we are in the early stages of this project but i am being tasked with finding the original makers of props and I am struggling to find out who were apart of the original production teams for films. It would be a massive help if anyone is able to provide any info for where is the best place to find the kind of information I'm looking for.

Thanks in advance for any help.
 
Welcome to therpf! Sounds like a fun project! Personally I often just start with IMDb. I go to the art department cast and look for property master, prop builders, etc. Then do searches with their names and the films title in hopes of finding some photos, interviews, or whatever I’m after. And if I want to reach out, I check to see if they’re on social media and I just DM them. I’ve had lots of success starting the rabbit hole there. Good luck and have fun!
 
Always just be a kind and courteous person, of course. I’ve only ever had one of two things happen when reaching out to someone - I never hear from them, or I do and we have a wonderful and memorable interaction. Some people love talking about their work with someone who loves hearing about it.
 
Same experience for me; IMDB would be your first research platform. As flimzy said, some will not appreciate the call/email, while others might.
You'll see the results fast enough: no answers to your inquiry or answers...;)
Also, you have to keep in mind that some will not remember the details of such and such prop/models etc...it was just a job at the time and not everybody kept detailed notes/blueprints and pictures of their work after their contract ended.
Good luck;)
 
Welcome to therpf! Sounds like a fun project! Personally I often just start with IMDb. I go to the art department cast and look for property master, prop builders, etc. Then do searches with their names and the films title in hopes of finding some photos, interviews, or whatever I’m after. And if I want to reach out, I check to see if they’re on social media and I just DM them. I’ve had lots of success starting the rabbit hole there. Good luck and have fun!
thank you for the help this is what i needed to get a better start to my presentation. Ive had a tough time with it ive been on summer break for 6 months so the academic writing and so on is taking a while to get back into but hopefully i can do the presentation and see which prop gets chosen for me by my lecturer this week out of the 5 ideas i have anyway.
 
Same experience for me; IMDB would be your first research platform. As flimzy said, some will not appreciate the call/email, while others might.
You'll see the results fast enough: no answers to your inquiry or answers...;)
Also, you have to keep in mind that some will not remember the details of such and such prop/models etc...it was just a job at the time and not everybody kept detailed notes/blueprints and pictures of their work after their contract ended.
Good luck;)
As a prop maker of nearly 40 years, I have to disagree.
I have worked on thousands of projects, building quite a few "well known" props and only have a few actual screen credits. My IMDB page has more, only because I have had to add to my page. (It will most often say (Uncredited)
Few of the credits on IMDB are for specific props. Also, I would guess that only 30%-50% of the people who worked on a film, are represented on screen credits (the credits that roll at the end of a film) It is always a bit of a fight to keep these credits to a manageable length. Lord of the Rings had almost 10 minutes of screen credits. Exhibitors aren't crazy about this, since they have to run them, and hardly anyone stays to watch them, so it just cuts into haw many times they can run a film per day.

First; The erroneous beliefs and assumptions about film production are staggering. From people thinking if they come to "Hollywood" they will see movie stars driving around or shopping, or how choices in films are made, like film directors deciding to use the same prop rental houses.

What you will find on IMDB (relating to props) is, Prop masters, Assistant prop masters, Art directors, Set decorators...and so on. Basically department heads for the art department. If the person was on the call sheet on a daily basis, then they are usually added to the credits of a film. (although not always. My shop did a big effect for Wes Cravens, "Shocker" and we were left off the final credits.)
IMDB automatically adds these film credits to their listing. In addition, a person can add a credit for themselves on IMDB, so you might, find individuals who actually made a prop, but rarely credit for a specific item.
Also, you have to be wary of people making it up.
I have had at least two interviews, with crafts-people I was going to hire, who had my work in their portfolios. In another case, a prop maker friend years ago, interviewed for a model making job, at Grant McCune Design (Formally "Apogee" turned "ILM") Grant hired him, and my friend asked why he was hired, given he wasn't primarily a "model maker"? Grant replied, "Your portfolio is one of the few that didn't have something I made in it."

The way it works on a film (most of the time), with props and costumes is;
The Producer or the Director have a style in mind, and look for Production designers / Art directors / Costume designers that have done projects that fit the style or have done films that are of the same subject, or they hire the same Art department people they like and have work with before. Clint Eastwood for example, used, Production designer Henry Bumstead, and Costume designer Debra Hopper on many of his films. (Clint is very loyal to his people)
The Production designer / Art director hires a team of art department people, Prop-masters, Set decorator and so on. These are the credits you will see on a film. If there is a union associated with a department, or there was a contractually negotiated "credit" when a company was hired, then you will see those members who worked on the film.
However, most of the time the prop master, or set decorator goes to a prop rental house, like mine, Global Effects Inc. or History for Hire, Independent Studio Services, The Hand Prop Room, or 2 dozen others to have things made or modified. Or perhaps the prop-master has a "Prop Shop", who just makes things (no rental department). There are dozens of these. The people working at these places are most often the crafts people who make the prop you are researching. But, they are so many "levels" away from the films main production team, they do not get screen credit, and are basically unknown, outside of the prop departments crew. Even then, the prop department people might have no idea of the person or persons, who actually crafted the item.
Early in my career, I worked for "The Hand Prop Room" (1981-1982 & 1984-1986) where I worked on a number of big films, making a lot of "hero" as well as stunt props.
I built props for; Rambo I, Rambo II, The Natural, Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Cocoon, Predator, The Terminator, Harry and the Henderson's and dozens of others I have forgotten about, or didn't know the title in the first place, or the title was changed. For example, I made most of the rubber props (guns knives) for a film called "Hunter" while at HPR. Later, I worked on it again, making glowing blood, lasers, coolsuit when the title was changed to "The Predator". (I negotiated a credit for the coolsuit)
There are also a number of props I have made, that ended up in the rental department of one of these rental houses, that were used many times on other films.
Most likely, in all of the cases I have listed above, if you talked with the propmaster, they would have no idea I made those props, because they hired HPR, not me. Hell, after all these years, I have trouble remembering what props I made. I am not alone in this, this is how it works most of the time. There are also cases, multiple people, at multiple shops might make a prop. For The Rocketeer, I and an employee of mine, Harvey Hubert, made an enigma machine for the film. The prop master didn't like how it looked, so he (I was told) brought it to Rick Gamez, and he modified it. (you never saw it in the final film) None of us were credited, nor would we have expected to be.

Costumes work much the same way. Although with costumes, the Costume designer might set up their own workshop specifically to make the costumes. However, if they are specialty costumes (Involving materials other than fabric) they often go to a costume shop, like mine, or Legacy, Spectral Motion, Western Costume, and a dozen others.

Even trying to find these companies can be difficult.
Given that most of these companies who make costumes and props for film, do not work for the general public, they don't really want to field calls from fans, so they are often difficult to locate on the web. This also has to do with the amount of publicity put out by the studios promoting their films, which drive most of the search results to the key art department people on the particular film.
If you search costumes or spacesuits on "For all Mankind" you won't easily fined me or my company. If you search spacesuits on "First Man", you will find Ryan Nagata, but, he didn't make any of the spacesuits for "First Man". Ryan did make some spacesuit accessories, and a nice high altitude pressure suit for the opening scene of the film, but due to a bigger web presence, he is who shows up on a search.
I was once credited on a number of web sites with doing all the effects on the remake of "The Blob", which I didn't. But because my credit was the first "Effects" credit listed in the films screen credits, some web pages assumed I did all the effects. when in fact I only did very minor effects in the film..

So, finding out who made a specific prop or costume for a specific film, can be extremely difficult.
Even trying to talk directly to people who say "I work in the film industry" is not always a sure thing.
I have been to a number of conventions where I have overheard people taking credit, or others giving them credit, for things I know they didn't do. But, since it can be so hard to find the actual person, it is easy to impress people by claiming you made something in a film.
I was at a party and a guy was claiming to have worked on one of the Nightmare on Elm street films, and a guy who did, overheard the claim, and said to the guy, "You didn't work on that film, you were in the shop working on.."(Another film I have forgotten the title of) The guy responded, "Yeah, but I was asked (by the Nightmare team) where to get silicone, and I told them".
So in his mind, he worked on a film, because he gave shopping advice.....

One thing to also keep in mind; just like there are "Movie Stars" who are not very good actors, just famous, there are people who aren't very skilled at building, or haven't worked on many films in key positions, who are "famous".
 
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As a prop maker of nearly 40 years, I have to disagree.
I have worked on thousands of projects, building quite a few "well known" props and only have a few actual screen credits. My IMDB page has more, only because I have had to add to my page. (It will most often say (Uncredited)
Few of the credits on IMDB are for specific props. Also, I would guess that only 30%-50% of the people who worked on a film, are represented on screen credits (the credits that roll at the end of a film) It is always a bit of a fight to keep these credits to a manageable length. Lord of the Rings had almost 10 minutes of screen credits. Exhibitors aren't crazy about this, since they have to run them, and hardly anyone stays to watch them, so it just cuts into haw many times they can run a film per day.

First; The erroneous beliefs and assumptions about film production are staggering. From people thinking if they come to "Hollywood" they will see movie stars driving around or shopping, or how choices in films are made, like film directors deciding to use the same prop rental houses.

What you will find on IMDB (relating to props) is, Prop masters, Assistant prop masters, Art directors, Set decorators...and so on. Basically department heads for the art department. If the person was on the call sheet on a daily basis, then they are usually added to the credits of a film. (although not always. My shop did a big effect for Wes Cravens, "Shocker" and we were left off the final credits.)
IMDB automatically adds these film credits to their listing. In addition, a person can add a credit for themselves on IMDB, so you might, find individuals who actually made a prop, but rarely credit for a specific item.
Also, you have to be wary of people making it up.
I have had at least two interviews, with crafts-people I was going to hire, who had my work in their portfolios. In another case, a prop maker friend years ago, interviewed for a model making job, at Grant McCune Design (Formally "Apogee" turned "ILM") Grant hired him, and my friend asked why he was hired, given he wasn't primarily a "model maker"? Grant replied, "Your portfolio is one of the few that didn't have something I made in it."

The way it works on a film (most of the time), with props and costumes is;
The Producer or the Director have a style in mind, and look for Production designers / Art directors / Costume designers that have done projects that fit the style or have done films that are of the same subject, or they hire the same Art department people they like and have work with before. Clint Eastwood for example, used, Production designer Henry Bumstead, and Costume designer Debra Hopper on many of his films. (Clint is very loyal to his people)
The Production designer / Art director hires a team of art department people, Prop-masters, Set decorator and so on. These are the credits you will see on a film. If there is a union associated with a department, or there was a contractually negotiated "credit" when a company was hired, then you will see those members who worked on the film.
However, most of the time the prop master, or set decorator goes to a prop rental house, like mine, Global Effects Inc. or History for Hire, Independent Studio Services, The Hand Prop Room, or 2 dozen others to have things made or modified. Or perhaps the prop-master has a "Prop Shop", who just makes things (no rental department). There are dozens of these. The people working at these places are most often the crafts people who make the prop you are researching. But, they are so many "levels" away from the films main production team, they do not get screen credit, and are basically unknown, outside of the prop departments crew. Even then, the prop department people might have no idea of the person or persons, who actually crafted the item.
Early in my career, I worked for "The Hand Prop Room" (1981-1982 & 1984-1986) where I worked on a number of big films, making a lot of "hero" as well as stunt props.
I built props for; Rambo I, Rambo II, The Natural, Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Cocoon, Predator, The Terminator, Harry and the Henderson's and dozens of others I have forgotten about, or didn't know the title in the first place, or the title was changed. For example, I made most of the rubber props (guns knives) for a film called "Hunter" while at HPR. Later, I worked on it again, making glowing blood, lasers, coolsuit when the title was changed to "The Predator". (I negotiated a credit for the coolsuit)
There are also a number of props I have made, that ended up in the rental department of one of these rental houses, that were used many times on other films.
Most likely, in all of the cases I have listed above, if you talked with the propmaster, they would have no idea I made those props, because they hired HPR, not me. Hell, after all these years, I have trouble remembering what props I made. I am not alone in this, this is how it works most of the time. There are also cases, multiple people, at multiple shops might make a prop. For The Rocketeer, I and an employee of mine, Harvey Hubert, made an enigma machine for the film. The prop master didn't like how it looked, so he (I was told) brought it to Rick Gamez, and he modified it. (you never saw it in the final film) None of us were credited, nor would we have expected to be.

Costumes work much the same way. Although with costumes, the Costume designer might set up their own workshop specifically to make the costumes. However, if they are specialty costumes (Involving materials other than fabric) they often go to a costume shop, like mine, or Legacy, Spectral Motion, Western Costume, and a dozen others.

Even trying to find these companies can be difficult.
Given that most of these companies who make costumes and props for film, do not work for the general public, they don't really want to field calls from fans, so they are often difficult to locate on the web. This also has to do with the amount of publicity put out by the studios promoting their films, which drive most of the search results to the key art department people on the particular film.
If you search costumes or spacesuits on "For all Mankind" you won't easily fined me or my company. If you search spacesuits on "First Man", you will find Ryan Nagata, but, he didn't make any of the spacesuits for "First Man". Ryan did make some spacesuit accessories, and a nice high altitude pressure suit for the opening scene of the film, but due to a bigger web presence, he is who shows up on a search.
I was once credited on a number of web sites with doing all the effects on the remake of "The Blob", which I didn't. But because my credit was the first "Effects" credit listed in the films screen credits, some web pages assumed I did all the effects. when in fact I only did very minor effects in the film..

So, finding out who made a specific prop or costume for a specific film, can be extremely difficult.
Even trying to talk directly to people who say "I work in the film industry" is not always a sure thing.
I have been to a number of conventions where I have overheard people taking credit, or others giving them credit, for things I know they didn't do. But, since it can be so hard to find the actual person, it is easy to impress people by claiming you made something in a film.
I was at a party and a guy was claiming to have worked on one of the Nightmare on Elm street films, and a guy who did, overheard the claim, and said to the guy, "You didn't work on that film, you were in the shop working on.."(Another film I have forgotten the title of) The guy responded, "Yeah, but I was asked (by the Nightmare team) where to get silicone, and I told them".
So in his mind, he worked on a film, because he gave shopping advice.....

One thing to also keep in mind; just like there are "Movie Stars" who are not very good actors, just famous, there are people who aren't very skilled at building, or haven't worked on many films in key positions, who are "famous".
i largely apricate the input and insider knowledge on the matter at hand. not only this i do understand how difficult it can be to find the people and information on the industry because my tutor and tutors are active in the industry and have been for a few decades.
 

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