Prop history photography project


New Member
Short introduction about my story:
Hello everybody, my name is Daniele and I am a photographer from London. After breaking my right wrist in a car accident 1.5 years ago I was forced at home for 2 months, an eternity. Luckly in those 2 months Youtube kept me company and from a avid DIY person I am, I started getting more and more into pro-making. I say getting more and more but the reality is that I don't have a workshop nor time nor funds to cultivate this passion at the moment. This said this didn't stop me from starting analising more the roles of props in movies and getting absolutely fascinated about anecdotes and stories of significant props. This is were I noticed that finding these stories and, more importantly, the people that actually designed these props, is not always easy. (I am saving up to buy some Cinefex magazine numbers at the moment). What changed my perspective of this was the death of Tony Dyson, creator of our beloved R2D2 few months ago.

This is where the idea sparked in me.
As a photographer I decided that I wanted to find these "inventors/genious/makers/artists/authors" and, at least, take a portrait of them. Trying to document the people that created some of the props in the movies that changed the history of cinema. I am aware that most of these people are now starting or are already pretty old, working at their peaks in 60s-70s-80s so I am litterary racing against the clock, but this just motivates me even more to trying and create a record of them, maybe even in their very same workshop where their masterpieces were first ideated and made.

At the moment I have started putting together a list of iconic props, from my average film knowledge, and try to find out who are the authors of these props. Task which is turning out very time consuming and pretty complex. I was wondering what the biggest prop comunity that I know thinks about this idea, if anything like this is already been done? And if any of you could help me fill the many many gaps in my list. I am also aware that many, if not all, of these props are collaborations of multiple people, still I would love to photographs at least one of the original authors.

This list IS NOT COMPLETE or FINISHED in any way, it's just what I wrote down from the top of my head in few evenings time thinking about this project, please feel free to suggest any other prop that you think might have had an inpact on the history of cinema and our everyday culture.

Thanks a lot for reading this far down a very long post and thanks even more to anyone that will be able to help me out!

PropMovieKnown Author
Luke's lightsaberStar WarsILM
Han Solo CarboniteStar WarsILM
Darth vader costumeStar WarsILM
Millenium FalconStar WarsILM
X-wing fighterStar WarsILM
R2D2Star WarsTony Dyson
Stormtrooper costumeStar WarsAndrew Ainsworth?/Brian Muir?
BullwhipIndiana JonesDavid Morgan
Soap barFightclub
Time machineBack to the Future IRon Cobb
HoverboardBack to the Future IIJohn Bell
Hall-90002001 Space Odissey
BriefcasePulp Fiction
Beatrix's swordKill Bill
ET CostumeETCarlo Rambaldi
Alien CostumeAlienCarlo Rambaldi/H.R. Giger
Shark modelJaws
Ghost trapGhostbustersRichard Edlund?
Annibal's maskSilence of the LambEd Cubberly?
TARS RobotInterstellar
NeuralizerMen in Black
Max's carMad Max
Frank's costumeDonnie Darko
Golden snitchHarry Potter I
Harry's wandHarry Potter I
TimeturnerHarry Potter III
TardisDoctor Who
Tron's bikeTron 1982Syd Mead
Di Caprio's totemInception
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Mike J.

Master Member
I don't think there were any physical bikes (Lightcycles) made for Tron in 1982, but IIRC the designer is Syd Mead, though the CGI was subcontracted to a couple different companies; MAGI, in New York, possibly others.

Additionally, Syd Mead designed a lot of things, especially in the 80's: Blade Runner, Aliens, Tron, 2010, etc:



New Member
Thanks Mike, I will definitelly look him up! He definitelly seems like the right kind of person for this project!

Mike J.

Master Member
Now, come to think of it, you also have some people on your side of the pond: Terry English, who made the Colonial Marines' armor for Aliens, is in the UK, still alive, and still makes replica armor, I think. So, you might be able to get a picture of him, wearing a set of his own armor. I'm imagining some Napoleon-esque full-length portrait, with a lot of draped velvet in the background :)


New Member
Thank you very much Mike, these are exactly the kind of people I am looking for. I just spent 1hour researching him and wrote him a email. Hopefully he'll get back to me and we'll be able to start this project. Having him wearing one of his armours would be amazing! I'll make sure I post on here any result or pictures I might get! If you remember any other name please don't hesitate to post it!


Master Member
The BTTF Hoverboards and many other "future" props in the movie were created by artist John Bell.

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Master Member
The builder of the Bruce shark - though his name escapes me - is well documented in the recent (relatively) coffee table book Jaws: Memories From Martha's Vineyard.


New Member
Hi everybody, sorry for the long absence, busy with life...
Anyway I just wanted to share with you the first portrait I managed to do for this project few weeks ago in Venice, Italy.
Perhaps now it will be a bit clearer what I would like to achieve with this first example XD
Valter Casotto - Award winning prosthetic makeup artist - imdb



Legendary Member
Stay away from A. Ainsworth, he didn't design/sculpt the Stormtrooper's helmet nor Darth Vader. Brian Muir did as well as Liz Moore.
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