Prop Services West Has Moved!

Swing by and check out PSW’s new location in North Hollywood.

Once again all under one roof, Prop Services West has relocated to the valley. Their new address is at 7040 Laurel Canyon Blvd. in North Hollywood.

Founded in 1978 by Set Decorator Bill Harp and Art Director Chuck Murawski, PSW has long been a favorite among Set Decorators, Production Designers, Art Directors and Prop Masters.

Chuck Murawski followed his friend Bill Harp to Hollywood in the early 70’s, after Bill joined the crew of the Carol Burnett Show. Recognizing the need for contemporary set dressing in west coast productions they opened Prop Services West on Santa Monica Blvd.

After many moves, purchases, and changes of ownership PSW has settled down into the Valley. Stop by them and see what they have to offer!

www.propserviceswest.com
Prop Services West

Where is Billy Mitchell?

Billy Mitchell, former set decorator and owner of Billy Mitchell’s Native American Prop House, closed up shop in 2007. He moved to Indiana to be closer to his wife’s family.

This certainly doesn’t mean he has stopped working his trade. Billy still has some collections of Native American tribal artifacts, pottery, baskets, rugs, and other Western Americana. From what I hear he will even be visiting his hometown of Hollywood this summer.

Throw me an email if you are in a production in Indiana and I can give you his contact information.

Dream Woodshop

While visiting USITT I was directed towards a particular blog by Eric Hart. One of his latest posts shares a video that I felt compelled to share as well. The blog is a terrific resource for prop manufacturing and an interesting look into some of his projects.

The video he links to is a short piece showing off a magnificent wood working shop. It also shows that some actors do work off the screen. Here is the video on Nick Offerman (of Parks and Rec.) and his workshop put together by Fine Woodworking. Not your typical construction projects for theatre or home use but certainly an artisan of note.

Click here if you do not see the video.

Hollywood Studio Gallery / Ed Stephenson

I first met Ed Stephenson in 1976 when he was relocating the set of the Norman Lear sitcom “Maude” to the Metro Media Channel 11 (which was located in 1976 across from KTLA Studios/Channel 5 on Sunset Boulevard… however it was since torn down and is now a High School) I remember fondly that Ed’s standard dress was formal, complete with an ascot. A very dapper look.

Back in the 70’s Ed saw a need for a prop house filled with artwork and opened Hollywood Studio Gallery in 1979. Before that, all Art Departments had to work with were picture frame companies.

Ed’s vision of a prop house supplying original art, photograph poser images and more has continued to grow over the years, and the collection he found has changed with the industry. Since Ed’s dream has become so important in film and television perhaps his vision was even greater than than we thought.

However, there’s much more to Ed Stephenson than sitcoms and the Hollywood Studio Gallery. From 1946 to 1952 Ed worked for the State Department in the far east as the Civilian Director of Entertainment and Music for the entire far east command. During this seven-year period, he produced and directed what became 1,300 Special Service Road Shows of 5,000 performances annually…and this just scratches the surface of his work! (Ed’s densely typed resume is four pages long.)

He started working for NBC as an art director in 1953, and his television career soon took him from TV specials and award shows to sitcoms. Ed continued to work until 1991, designing sitcoms for Witt Thomas Harris. Since his passing several years ago his legacy continues on with his collection at Hollywood Studio gallery with his daughter Tara Stephenson. By her own merit she has become a well respected set decorator in the Entertainment Industry.

Stop by Hollywood Studio Gallery and check out their large collection of paintings, prints, and photographs. Glance through a large assortment of pieces that vary from western, police, Asian inspired, religious items, and even frames. Certificates and framed badges are also available. Their fast turnaround mounting service is geared to the entertainment industry’s speed and will equally surprise you as much as their collection.

Hollywood Studio Gallery
Website: www.hollywoodstudiogallery.com/

2012 USITT Convention

The USITT Convention was last week in Long Beach. Everyone from theater schools, manufacturers, suppliers and distributors that specialize in scenery, costumes, and sound/lighting technicians to properties, make-up, special effects, stage managers and all other manner of craftsperson working in the theater were drawn to the Long Beach Convention Center last week to find fresh inspiration and the newest equipment.

For many theater backstage techies it was a chance to check out new equipment and informational seminars, finally putting a face to the voices they have been working with or heard about for years.

Creating and sharing information while connecting with others, USITT (The United States Institute for Theater Technology) started in 1960. This annual convention moves around the United States each year allowing professionals and students alike to meet other like-minded individuals. Since it’s inception it has been the one stop shop for networking with others of similar interests in design and production for the performing arts.

Here’s a link to their website. If you can make it out to Milwaukee, Wisconsin next year near the end of March make sure to put this on your calendar.

R.C. Vintage

With Bright Lights and Color when you first walk into R.C. Vintage, you will be surrounded by unusual items and great vintage furniture.

Checked in on Will Carter last week at one of his prop houses in North Hollywood, California. He had called to tell me he had some new airport seats. Come over and check them out…so I did. But he also has many new Art Deco Furnishings he has added to his collection of slot machines, light fixtures, memorabilia & novelties, nodders, oversized props, restaurant furniture & dressing, street dressing vendor carts and video games. He as added a great selection of  Art Deco lamps, tables, chairs, and new art deco accessories.

He has really grown from the first time I met Willie in 1987.  I got a call to meet a guy at his new prop house in Hollywood. So I went to check out this new site. When I walked in the door a guy pops up from  behind a juke box scares me half to death and says, “Man you’re hard to get a hold of…” And thus, my introduction to Will Carter. Willie (as I like to call him) is a true Angeleno, born at Queen of Angels Hospital and football star at Fairfax High. He might be the most famous football payer around as his high school photo has been rented so many times for sets he should get residuals.

I little background on Willie some might not know. He focused on Art Direction at The Art Center but took a detour to work with a photographer and then landed a job in transportation at CBS Television Center. But, his passion for business pushed him to open a prop house. Lucky for us, he never looked back.

Bright lights have always been part of Wills life, his mother was a very famous singer and dancer, one might consider her the ‘Ginger Rogers of Japan’. She left those bright lights for Hollywood but you can tell her influence on R.C. Vintage with its colorful neon and light fixtures.

Willie purchased Alley Cats Studio Rentals in the early 90’s. A prop house full of ally dressing from dumpsters, trash cans and more. In 2000, he took over an entire building on Cherokee Street in Hollywood to house a 2-story selection of lighting fixtures for every scene from restaurant to household sets, street lights and lamp posts (more bright lights and color)

By 2005 Alley Cats was busting at the seams so he relocated to North Hollywood where he tripled in size and is still growing. Alley Cats Studio Rentals is a completely different collection of his… but that’s another story. In 2008-2009 R.C. Vintage relocated to North Hollywood. When you swing by to shop at R.C. Vintage or Alley Casts Studio Rentals and happen to catch sight of Will Carter tapping his feet in one of his colorful Hawaiian shirts know that it’s the international rhythm in his blood and all the bright lights and color.

I must admit, I’ve never heard him sing. Do let me know when you stop by R.C. Vintage if you catch him singing a tune. Try catching it on video too.

RC Vintage, Inc.
Website: www.rcvintage.com