Screen-used Production Props: Obligations & Semantics

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PropArtist

Active Member
I recently had a discussion with someone around the semantics of owning a screen-used prop.

The contention was that as the owner of a screen-used prop, one is looked down upon for not sharing exact details of the prop within our community.

I wanted to throw the topic out there for discussion - as I can see the logic from both sides of the argument.

Most of us spend a lot of money to own screen-used props from our beloved films.

If we then provide exact details, sizes, etc. to others in our community, does this in fact have the potential to devalue the original screen-used prop?

Don't get me wrong, I love the collaborative nature of our hobby and the RPF, but there are those who take advantage of people's good nature.

The RPF does a great job to weed out the crooks and ban them, but....

Given the quality of work I see coming from this community, can one argue that down the road if someone lacked the scruples, they could attempt to pass off a well-made replica as the real deal based upon the provided details from the original.

Given the amount of detail, they could even include any "screen matched" imperfections.

Like most of us, I view screen-used props as art, similar to an oil painting from a gallery.

As the owner of an oil painting for example, one may own the rights to reproduce the image.

If you share the high-res scans of the oil painting, to allow others to create spot on copies and in turn share the joy of the prop, are you devaluing the original that you own?

I'm not sure if this makes sense, but I wanted to get your feedback.

I was once burned, and I don't want that cloud my judgement.

Thoughts appreciated.

Thanks!
 
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TheSandstorm

New Member
I know what you mean and I understand you. On one side I think when you give detailed infos to others they can reproduce a much cheaper version of a masterpiece and it becomes now available to more people due to the lower price, on the other hand I think the original one looses somethin, some people will stop to admire it cause they can get a cheaper excact copy. But I think for real real real collectors the original stays the original with all what comes with it (price, excitement, etc.). You also have to think from a diverend angle, I for myself would never buy thousands of dollar for a real star trek item, I would be pleased with a cheap excact/ almost excact copy, CAUSE I am not so into star trek BUT for some real star trek geek it would be a holy grail who only wants the screen used prop and not some excact replica even if its excact to the last sractch and dirt particle. I hope you understand what I mean :)
 

tubachris85x

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Here's the thing...

Screen-used prop collecting is naturally an incredibly expensive thing. Who could afford most of the "good" items (I'm thinking of props that go for 6 figures)? The wealthy I'd take a guess that there's quite a few members here who I would consider "well-off," especially if they're able to actively engage in an auction event for items where starting bids are already in the thousand dollar range.

That being said, what I can see is there being a number of auction winners of props who are not really into the prop, but have it serve as a conversation/display piece. So, with the exception of the few capable here, I'd venture to say that they don't really care about the pieces, not at "our" level of care at least

I admit, it DOES bother me to some extent, when someone either buys (acquires) a screen used/production made piece, make it known they are absolutely indifferent about it (or make it clear they don't give a crap) and ultimately refuse to accept questions regarding it. Next thing you know, it's stuffed in a box, someplace in a closet, never to be seen again.

Reminds me of a giveaway that happened a few years ago, a guy won a deadmau5 head that was used by Joel for one of his tours. These were from the same molds as his current heads, which are produced by Jim Henson studios. He finally made a video because he was sick of people asking about it. The entire thing you could tell he couldn't give one rat's ***** about it, even says so, but that he'll never sell it. It was pretty maddening, as he just didn't really go into much detail or show the things you'd want to see. No real concept of the construction was shown other than the ears.

Another item is the screen used snowtrooper helmet that was sold on auction. It sold for $225,000. That's A LOT of money. Who here has that kind of change to spare? No one that I know, but then again, that's none of my business. I haven't found out who in the world won it or have seen pictures of it after the fact. Given the nature of these things, I'd actually consider something like this piece as "lost," because it's no longer available to the public (in an information sense), the owner wants to remain private about it and until he decides to sell it or get rid of it, we'll never see it again....so yea. It's simply gone

What do you do about those things? Nothing. You can't. It's their property at that point, whether you like it or not. All I could hope for is that these items go to people who will actually appreciate them, at the very least. Not some joker
 

TheSandstorm

New Member
Sounds like almost all props are somewhere hidden in a closet in some rich guys home who bought them just for fun (cause it doesnt matter if he spends 30.000 or 300.000 dollar) and not because he is such a huge fan since childhood because its just another piece to display in his big home (IF he really displays it).
Its his right to do that but on the other hand its sad that such pieces are lost. I think there are hundreds of really geeks out there who would sell all they have even their own mother (or maybe mother in law :lol) to own such a piece.

In some other thread someone mentioned an auction of movie props, for example: gandalfs white staff from LotR for 320.000 dollar! I think the owner is no really a fan as we know it, a fan who travels to conventions, actually lives his beloved movie for real, collects everything he can get and has done lots of research about his movie and is know like a walking dictionary. This owner is just some rich guy who bought a new toy, like the 5th ferrari...

Some years ago I saw a docu on television where a camera team visited some rich guys at home, those guys had lots of stuff around, movie props, signed original sport items, ...
well in the middle of the docu that guy took out an really really old tapestry/ carpet thing worth a couple of thousand dollars and used it as a plaid for his dog just for fun (cause of the cameras, cause he just does not cause, god knows why..), who pooped all over it and ripped a piece out. And another guy had some very rare and expensive movie props and let the children play with it as it was a barbie doll or remote toy car.

My jar dropped open when I saw that, I can't understand such people when other people in this world will kill, only to touch such an item. If they will own it they will worthship it more than a grail, I think some will built a air tight safe surrounded with crocs and laser guns just to protect it cause they are so fanatic about the movie, not like such rich guys who will give a sh.t about anything cause its just a new toy in their collection they dont care about cause they will buy a new one.

I think it would be nice if such object arent for sale at all. i think somewhere nicely displayed to fans would be more helpful. The items wil be safe for such rude collectors and fans can visit them as often as they like, take picture to create their own etc. like the harry potter props in their warnerbros. harry potter studios, where all screen used prop are displayed from clothing to newspapers, artefacts, to the last chocolate bar wrapping that some actor was holding in one scene. Fans are traveling fromall over the world to take a tour through warner bros. studios. they take thousands of picture to make their own replica. I think think thats a better solution for all, than somewhere locked away in some rich collectors room, where no one cares and the items will maybe destroyed cause no one care about what it is real worth for a fan, so maybe the collector dies and the children just throw those away cause its just a helmet, just a staff, just some old piece of clothing...
 
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PropArtist

Active Member
Very valid points.

Obviously when you get into the realm of 6 figures+ props that's an entirely different level of collecting, even for those who are financially blessed.

I would even throw 5 figures+ props into that level as well.
 
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Duncanator

Sr Member
It runs the entire spectrum. I'm sure some of the "rich guys" are buying stuff just as an investment, bragging right, novelty item, etc… and don't necessarily have an emotional tie to the item. But I know there are some who are just as big a geek as the most rabid fan here, and will spend whatever it takes to preserve that item - no expense spared.
 

Duncanator

Sr Member
Those of us who worked on films and tv shows have a different relationship with original props too. A lot of our work gets damaged/destroyed/modified during production and then thrown in the dumpster after it's all done. When the focus of the job is to get the shot, the props are just tools for you to do whatever you need to with in order to get it on film. After that, it has no value (to the production).

That being said, there are items I have that I treat with great care mostly for sentimental value, but also as a steward before any potential collector value.
 

cfawcett

New Member
Yeah, I think you guys are making a lot of assumptions when you say that these big ticket items are just going to rich guys that just don't care. I wouldn't be surprised at all if there were some multimillionaires on this board. In fact, I'd be shocked if there weren't. People don't advertise their net worth and income, so you really don't know. I think if there were a Zillow map for net worth, many people would be shocked at both the millionaires and the insanely in-debt households and where they lived and what the did for a living.

It may feel good to think about those pieces going to people who don't care, because it makes us feel justified in wanting something, even deserving something, we can't afford. But I think even among the wealthy, there aren't a lot of them that just buy for buying sake. I think you misunderstand the wealthy if you think that. They're the most careful stewards of their money in the population - that's why they're wealthy (well, except for inherited money). I would bet that most of these high end pieces are going to homes of people who really do love and enjoy them and think they're awesome and cool.

Cj
 

tubachris85x

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Yeah, I think you guys are making a lot of assumptions when you say that these big ticket items are just going to rich guys that just don't care. I wouldn't be surprised at all if there were some multimillionaires on this board. In fact, I'd be shocked if there weren't. People don't advertise their net worth and income, so you really don't know. I think if there were a Zillow map for net worth, many people would be shocked at both the millionaires and the insanely in-debt households and where they lived and what the did for a living.

It may feel good to think about those pieces going to people who don't care, because it makes us feel justified in wanting something, even deserving something, we can't afford. But I think even among the wealthy, there aren't a lot of them that just buy for buying sake. I think you misunderstand the wealthy if you think that. They're the most careful stewards of their money in the population - that's why they're wealthy (well, except for inherited money). I would bet that most of these high end pieces are going to homes of people who really do love and enjoy them and think they're awesome and cool.

Cj

Honestly, I've met both ends of the spectrum. Some who will pinch pennies despite being really well off and then those who will spend money as if it were single ply toilet paper. It's all about character and personality, of course. When it comes to the prop buying realm, I'd just rather it go to a person who's actually going to take care of it and appreciate it, rich or poor, that doesn't matter.

The posted story above of a guy's throwing the props around for their children to play with as well as letting their dog poop on an expensive tapestry is pretty discomforting. I guess though when $$ is not an object, you may tend to value things less than the rest of society.
 

Duncanator

Sr Member
As for the question in the original post: I think it's great when people who have or had access to the real props share information on them. I don't believe that it diminishes the value at all. In fact, the more people that want the real thing, the more valuable it'll become. And if more people know the "tells" of a real one, it makes it harder to pass off a fake.

Props are just like fine art in that regard. Counterfeiters keep trying to pass off copies of classic paintings, and prop collectors have to contend with the same problem. The provenance of an item is often where the value is truly determined for authentic pieces. And just like fine art, the buyer really needs to do their homework on what they are buying and who they are buying it from.

It really bothers me when people don't share just because they want to brag. I understand the original poster's reticence because he got taken advantage by someone, which is different than the folks who say "I know something you don't know, but I'm not telling 'cuz I think it makes me look cool!" THAT bugs me!
 
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PropArtist

Active Member
As for the question in the original post: I think it's great when people who have or had access to the real props share information on them. I don't believe that it diminishes the value at all. In fact the more people want the real thing, the more valuable it'll become. And if more people know the "tells" of a real one, it makes it harder to pass off a fake.

Props are just like fine art in that regard. Counterfeiters keep trying to pass off copies of classic paintings, and prop collectors have to contend with the same problem. The provenance of an item is often where the value is truly determined for authentic pieces. And just like fine art, the buyer really needs to do their homework on what they are buying and who they are buying it from.

It really bothers me when people don't share just because they want to brag. I understand the original poster's reticence because he got taken advantage by someone, which is different than the folks who say "I know something you don't know, but I'm not telling 'cuz I think it makes me look cool!" THAT bugs me!

X2 :thumbsup
 

bluerage11

Active Member
I own a few items which are posted on ebay. Well, a few weeks ago I received emails from a collector asking me for greater detailed photos and specifics about the items as they were hoping to fabricate their own facsimile.
I did decline, but it was mainly because I have only been collecting for just over a year and I was unsure of whether providing a stranger with these details was good for the value of the item. Plus... it was Ebay and he could have always bought it and found out for himself :p
 
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