The carpenters, or hammers, as they're called by those in the know, are the ones who do all the hard work. Officially—that is, according to the union—carpenters are classified as prop makers with a specialization for movies. Even though they are not prop masters, carpenters are given this designation because when the union was first organizing, there was a problem with actual carpenters wanting the film jobs, and what film carpenters do is quite a bit different from regular carpentry. Ask Frank Leasure; that's how he started out in the film industry. His early construction gigs included building huts and booths for the Southern California Renaissance Pleasure Faire, and his work there led him directly to film. Once he was making films, Frank's experience in re-creating the period look of the Renaissance helped out immensely, because for construction in the movies, the most important thing is to make it look right. According to Frank, all of what you see on the screen is fakery, and 70 percent of that is jury-rigged just long enough to get the shot. After the scene is in the can, the set comes down and the next one is built.

The carpenters also work with the prop master when it comes to building props, which is where the union designation comes from. They build the props that are large pieces and require significant construction.

But don't get your hopes up about hanging out with the big celebrities. When you work construction, you may start building a set as much as five months (or more) before that set is scheduled to work (be shot).

If you're lucky, you'll have a friend, as Frank did, to pull you into the industry. If not, your best bet is to learn as much about woodworking and cabinetry as you can. Cabinetry is useful because a lot of what you'll be doing is finishing work, making things look as if they were real and usable.

You can build up your contacts by taking jobs in commercial houses. These are places that produce television commercials. If you live in Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver, Toronto, or any of the other major production centers, there will be several commercial houses around, but even if you don't live in a major entertainment center, there has to be somebody (probably several somebodies) producing local commercials. Build your resume with them.

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  • Tim
    How can i build sets in hollywood carpenter?
    8 years ago

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