We’re delighted to have the talented and lovely Gavin Jones of Studio Prop Makers on board at Creative Media Skills. His inaugural Intro into Props course in Belfast in March was a huge success and our participants have given us great feedback.
In our exclusive interview with him for our blog he talks about his lucky break on a Tim Burton movie, employing local crew, gives insight into prop making for TV and film and creating THAT iron throne for Game of Thrones.
Could you tell us how you started out in your career?
I got lucky when it came to landing my first job in prop making. The second phone call I made after graduating was to a puppet making company in Manchester called Mackinnon and Saunders, who had just secured a contract to supply stop motion puppets to Tim Burton for his next film, Mars Attacks! Following an interview, I got offered a job as a trainee model maker.
What made you want to get into Props?
I was in my second year of an illustration degree when I started to get a bit disillusioned about the course and my progress. The final brief before the summer was a 3D project and I was instantly excited. I used very basic materials like papier mache and chicken wire, but knew it was something I wanted to pursue.
What kinds of jobs have you done to date?
I have worked across a wide range of jobs, from big budget blockbusters to TV productions and commercials.
Can you describe the biggest challenge you’ve faced on a particular job?
The biggest challenge so far was probably creating the iron throne for Game Of Thrones. I received no drawings or concepts for this brief, just the imagination of the producers who came around at the end of each week to check our progress. It has definitely been one of the most rewarding prop making projects I have worked on.
How would you describe a typical job?
Ideally a typical job would begin with a concept and technical drawing, from there we would decide what materials are needed, what the budget is for the job and the deadline. Some jobs may need to be turned around within a day if props are required on set the next morning or we may have up to a couple of months building a prop, depending on scale and detail.
What are you most proud of?
I am proud of how SPM has grown as a company to service productions within the film and television industry. I am especially proud of the local crew I employ who have become a highly skilled team.
What have you learnt along the way?
It’s a small industry. You are likely to work with the same people time and again so delivering to your highest level and producing the best work is fundamental.
Why do you think it is important to pass on certain skills to people just entering the industry?
From my own experience you are only going to benefit from being supported by a skilled team.
What do you hope participants will get out of your courses?
I hope people will gain a good insight to what it’s like working within a prop making department on a day-to-day basis. From setting problem solving tasks with real deadlines, and learning about key processes and materials, participants will hopefully leave inspired to continue.
What do you love most about your job?
Being able to work within a creative environment and seeing projects from concept to completion. I’ve also been lucky enough to travel around the world working for the industry.
Read our other exclusive interviews with tutor and costume designer Jane Clive, award-winning filmmaker Bill Forsyth, actor Noel Clarke, The King’s Speech producer Gareth Unwin and our special effects makeup tutor Stuart Bray.