Looking for and finding props sounds like a simple enough task. But it takes time and patience, not to mention a great deal of storage space. It is something you can do yourself if you are in need of low cost simple props for an amateur production. Here are some of the places we find our props, and a few tips on how to pick up a bargain.
You would be amazed at what can be found in junk shops. The joy of buying items for theatrical or TV productions is that the things you need very few other people would pay money for. Need a 1970 phone, a chintz armchair, or a crocheted loo-roll holder? These props may be just the thing for one client, and can be picked up for very little money. If you plan to put on a classic production of Abigail’s Party, you should not find it hard to find cheesy 70s props in junk shops. Haggle hard, and never tell the shopkeeper what you want the items for – they may assume you are on a big budget. Junk shop owners will be keen to sell hard-to-shift items however, so you can usually find bargains.
Ebay is a great place to source props bargains, and ideal if you are going for older item of period furniture or accessories. Admittedly, it is harder to find real bargains for anything earlier than the 1950’s, so make sure you leave yourself enough time to source everything you need before opening night. You may like to attempt to find some pieces and top up with prop rental from a professional company.
Auction houses might be just the place to pick up rare items, but it is harder to budget for your production when buying at auction, since you never know for sure what the final price is going to be. Occasionally, TV and film production companies will auction off pieces from their props collection, so keep your eyes open for these if you have a higher budget.
Antique Shops and Architectural Salvage
Props companies source items from professional antique dealers, and can buy things at trade prices. We always try to pass on the savings to our customers. With larger items, such as wooden panelling for example, or pews, it can be impossible to cover the cost of purchase from a limited budget. The advantage of using props rental is that you can hire spectacular items for a fraction of the cost it takes to buy them. You also need to consider what to do with the items once you have finished the production!
We source architectural antiques from all over the world, so you can save yourself a lot of time by simply renting our items out. Keep your eyes peeled though, as you might be amazed at what you see amongst run of the mill antiques. Often, items that do not have a wide appeal are hidden away beneath other items, so never be afraid to rummage in an antiques yard. You might pick up a bargain.