Sunday, January 24, 2010

Prop Shopping for Public Enemies

When we watched the DVD of the Johnny Depp movie about John Dillinger, Public Enemies, I remembered that Beth Reiners who teaches at Photo Styling Workshops had mentioned prop styling for the film. I asked her for more details and she told me about the project.
“I helped the LA Prop stylist pick out all the props for the scene shot right here in Crown Point, Indiana! It's the jail scene (it is the actual jail Dillinger escaped from as well) where he escapes and steals the sheriff's car. We went to all the local antique stores and found anything that pertained to the jail and to a later scene in downstate Illinois at the prison; old buckets, old irons and ironing boards, old stools, old keys, paintings, brooms, tables and benches, etc.”

What a fun and fascinating job! Frequently a set stylist will call on a local stylist to help with prop shopping. We know all the best places to shop, the thrift stores, and antique stores that will rent or sell us just the right, obscure item. We drive them around and follow the creative trail to the props that are needed.

After Beth described the scene she helped to style, we re-watched the film. In the jail scene I could see a few of the props she helped to track down. But just a few – that’s the way it works with props. You need to bring many options to provide a few select items for the shot. You can’t have any attachment to the others and can’t expect that everything will be chosen. Beth’s props helped to make a perfect scene, in my opinion.

Beth Reiners teaches the 4-week, online course Prop Styling 101 at Photo Styling Workshops. Next session begins March 16, 2010.

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