In the realm of film and theatre there are many creative types. Directors are the visionaries, Costume the fashionistas, Set designers are the scene setters, but Prop makers are the fantastical carpenters. Prop makers job is to get down dirty and use their imagination and hands to make a psychical object that the world can see. It appeals to the “handyman” type of person for a reason. Because prop makers are the go-getters and the do-anythings they are used in every nook and cranny that the industry needs them.
First take a look at the type of people it can attract; any. You see painters, carpenters, cosplayers, graphic designers, even cooks. Persons from all types of background seem to find themselves as prop makers. It only makes sense when you look at the space filler role they take. They might be asked to do anything so anyone with skills relevant to the area feels like they could fit in. One week they might need props to make paintings and the next build a log cabin out of balsa wood. Sure there are specialists that might be better at each individual skill, but prop makers are the artistic handymen that can do it all.
Although each individual may have a very different set of skills they all share one thing in common. Prop makers are always that special type of people that will tackle any challenge with all their might and do the best they can. Their best resource is themselves and a large percentage of the skills they pick up will be self-taught. Prop makers almost never say they can’t do something. If they can’t initially they will learn how. It’s one of the most righteous things about the profession.
Next for what their role is to the general public. As great as computer generated images are, there is something magical about seeing a real thing that is so life like you could imagine touching it. The next step up is when you actually get to. Although CGI delivers fantastic results and takes film places it couldn’t go before, the audience gets tired of it. You always hear more compliments about good puppets than good computer graphics. This is what prop makers are all about. They create the objects that actors can hold or interact with and deliver a sense of realism that immerses the audience. CGI will probably improve but it still has the problem of being too fluid and shiny. That’s why props and even set designers will still have jobs.
Prop makers design, create, build, and furthermore make it all functional. They fill the spaces and help out all the other creative types. That is their role behind the stage. If an artist designs something and needs it made or has trouble designing something that is where these fantastical carpenters step in. They’re asked to create all things because that’s their specialty.