From jewellery to artificial weapons, it’s the duty of a Prop Maker to craft a variety of props for TV, film and theatre productions. Their ultimate goal is to create authentic-looking props that echo the era of the show, whilst meeting a design brief proposed by the Production Team. To help you understand more about this occupation, we have listed everything there is to know when beginning your career as a Prop Maker.
Introduction to Prop Making
To start a career in Prop Making, you will first need to master the role of Prop Assistant or Technician, depending on whether you choose a career in TV and film or theatre. These entry-level positions will not only develop your work-experience portfolio, but your technical skills too. If you continue your career and become a Prop Maker, the average hourly rate in London is £18, with an annual salary of approximately £37,400.
There is also the possibility to go freelance, as research shows that almost 35% of Prop Makers are actually self-employed. To make your way as a freelance Prop Maker, you will need to build your contact list and get your name out in the industry. This can be achieved through volunteering at small-scale festivals and amateur theatre productions.
The Role of a Prop Maker
To begin, a Prop Maker will usually receive rough sketches of props from the Production Staff. The Prop Maker will then research the history and culture around the intended design to ensure the prop can be as authentic as possible. The next step is to experiment with materials and evaluate which would work best. Props can be made using a diverse range of supplies, including fibreglass, wood, textiles, metal and latex, therefore this stage of the process can be time-consuming.
Types of Projects
Prop Makers work with a range of clients, including TV and film, museums, retail, corporate commissions, and theatre. On large-scale projects, a Prop Maker could be tasked with designing and creating multiple stage props, in which case, they would work closely with Set Designers, Production Designers, Set Builders and Costume Staff. On the other hand, small-scale projects will require the Prop Makers to build the set and make the costumes in addition to the general props.
Although there are no formal qualifications required to be a Prop Maker, you can gain some much-needed skills when studying on the following courses:
- Prop Making
- Production Arts
- Performing Arts
- Art and Design
- Technical Theatre
- Set Design
Before choosing a course, it’s important to carefully evaluate the course content to ensure it suits your interests and requirements. To be selected for one of these courses, it is likely you will need:
• A foundation studies diploma in Art and Design
• One A-level for a foundation degree
• Two or three A-levels for a degree
The Skills of a Prop Maker
As a Prop Maker, your creative skills and talents will be more beneficial than qualifications. In order to create a diverse range of props, Prop Makers must have skills in a variety of professional areas, such as:
- Computer-aided design (CAD)
To succeed as a Prop Maker, you will also need an abundance of soft skills, including:
- Problem-solving abilities
- Attention to detail
- Time management
- Innovative thinking
- Effective communication
A career in Prop Making is diverse – every day can be different! If you’re hoping to start your career as a Prop Maker, get in touch with us here at Promotional Props & Costumes to learn more about our services, skills and specialities.