Prop and scenery maker

What they do

Prop and scenery makers construct the sets, backdrops, furniture and props for film, television and stage productions, and exhibitions and events. They work closely with set designers and stage managers to ensure that all props and scenery meet production and design specifications.

In Western Australia, prop and scenery makers may work on productions for organisations such as His Majesty’s Theatre, smaller local theatre companies, events such as Perth Artrage Festival, or educational exhibits.

Specialisations include: Fixing carpenter, Formwork Carpenter

Working conditions

Prop and scenery makers usually work in construction workshops and may work independently or as part of a team. They use a wide range of carpentry, joinery and metalwork skills and may be required to wear protective clothing.

They generally work construction industry hours, starting early in the morning. Occasional weekend and night work may be required.

Tools and technologies

Prop and scenery makers may use a range of tools including standard carpentry and metalwork power tools and machinery. They may use timber, steel, plastic, leather, clay, plaster and resins to construct props and furniture, and may make stunt double props such as fake knifes and baseball bats. They also read technical drawings to plan the construction of props.

How do I become one?

Education and training

You can work as a prop and scenery maker without any formal qualifications. However, you are more likely to improve your prospects in the industry if you have completed a formal qualification in live production and services, production and design or a related area.

The Diploma of Live Production and Technical Services and the Advanced Diploma of Live Production and Management Services are offered at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA).

You can also complete a degree majoring in production and design.

Edith Cowan University offers a three year Bachelor of Performing Arts (Production and Design). This is the only undergraduate degree specialising in prop and scenery making available in Western Australia. Contact the university for more information.

You can also complete a traineeship. The stage production assistant (carpentry), (backdrops) and (sets and props) traineeships usually take 12 months to complete.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend  time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.

You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Required registration and licensing

To work as a prop and scenery maker in Western Australia, you may need to obtain a High Risk Work Licence if you are working at heights. The licence is available from the WorkSafe Division of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety. Workers in the construction industry must undergo safety induction training and be issued with a Construction Induction Card (commonly known as a white card). In Western Australia, training is conducted by registered training organisations authorised by the WorkSafe Division of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.

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