Prop makers are responsible for producing the objects (properties) that are used on stage in a theatre, or on a film or television set. They may also be involved in hiring, adapting or borrowing props.
Working to instructions or a design brief from the production designer, stage/set designer or props master, prop makers might create props from rough ideas or from other people's designs. Depending on the production, they may have to carry out historical, cultural or science fiction research in order to create accurate and realistic props.
Prop makers need a wide range of skills in areas including carpentry, sculpting, casting and moulding, upholstery, welding, technical drawing and computer-aided design. They use a range of hand and power tools to carry out their work - anything from needle and thread to welding equipment – and work with a variety of materials such as metal, latex, fibreglass, wood or fabric. They may have to create moving or illuminated models and props and so a lot of people who go into this will have studied theatre design.
The Skillset website has more detailed information about specific job roles within the props, art and set construction departments in film and TV – see Further Information.
There are no set hours or standard environment for prop makers, but they normally work long hours, especially as a production deadline approaches. Many prop makers are freelance, although some may be attached to large theatre venues. Weekend and evening work is common.
Prop makers could work in studios or backstage, in prop rooms, or on film sets and on location. They may have to spend time away from the workshop, studio or stage while researching and finding props.
Conditions backstage may be cramped and prop makers may have to work with strong smelling adhesives and paints.
To be a prop maker you should have:
Prop makers are usually self-employed and work on freelance contracts. The skills needed are similar for both film/TV and theatre, so prop makers can find work throughout the UK in:
If you would like to know anything about Prop Maker that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.
80-110 New Oxford Street
FT2 Film and Television Freelance Training
Association of British Theatre Technicians
55 Farringdon Road
Tel: 020 7242 9200
National Council for Drama Training
1-7 Woburn Walk
Tel: 020 7387 3650
Creative and Cultural Skills
Tel: 0800 093 0444
Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU)
373-377 Clapham Road