Is there a name for a person who custom makes theatrical and movie props?

If a TV show producer says “We need a cactus that looks like Richard Nixon” or “we need a six foot tall volcano that shoots out poker chips and bubbles” or whatever and it has to be custom-made, is that just a job of the prop manager or is there a specific job title for those who make such things? (Assume most don’t require any real mechanical knowledge [i.e. not made by a mechanic or a machinist].)

As a starting point, Design, construct and acquire suggests the property designer at least oversees the process of providing such things.

I believe “property master” is the person who sees to the props being available to the actors, but who isn’t the one responsible for their acquisition necessarily.

Like so many tasks backstage hard and fast lines are not the rule and fuzzy definitions apply in many cases.

But with specialties in movies as precise as “focus puller” I won’t be surprised if an arcane term does exist for Mr. Propmaker.

In short, I don’t know but do share your curiosity.

From here:, the home page of International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 44. “The various Crafts we represent are: Coordinator, Draperer, Floorcover, Greens, Propmaster, Propmaker, Property, Sewers, Set Decorator, Special Effects, Upholsterer, Commercial Master, Commercial Propmaker, Commercial Property, and Commercial Set Decorator.”

It looks like they call them Propmakers. There may be another slang term for the craft, but I’ve never heard it. I once belonged to a IATSE mixed local when I was a theatre projectionist, and I’ve done local amateur theater tech, but I’ve never run into a real pro in real life.

Some of my friends do this for a living. One was described in the credits of a film they worked on as head propmaker, and the others as prop sculptors. Sometimes they are credited as model makers.They fall under the Art Department.

Isn’t this what M5 did before Mythbusters?

It is, but I think they specialized in mechanical things. So, if you need a cactus shaped like Nixon, you wouldn’t call them, but if you need a Pepsi machine that can drive it self around the set and launch sodas at people, they’re your guys.

You know, I never realized it before, but I DO NEED ONE OF THOSE!

Off to Cragslist and eBay I go!


I think they tore it apart to make it do something else for a myth.

A man I knew who used to work on props, mostly making them look period specific, called himself a “scenic artist.”