How to become a prop maker: Miles' story

Meet Miles, 24, from Surrey, and find out about life as a prop maker for film, TV, and theatre shows. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

Miles in his workshop, smiling at the camera.
"I make the impossible, possible!"

Can you explain what you do in your job?

Everyday is different, that’s what I love about it! Prop making uses lots of different craft skills – one day I might be doing woodwork or metalwork, and the next day I'm sewing.

On the business side of things, I run my own prop making company, this means I'm responsible for speaking to clients and understanding what their requirements are for each project. I give them a quote, which is how much I think the project will cost. It includes my time and the cost of the materials I'll need to use.

Is this the job you always wanted to do?

No, I had no idea it existed. I first applied to do a Scenic Art course at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, but I saw that they offered a Prop Making course as well. This appealed to me as it required both painting and constructional skills so I switched to that course.

I got to learn practical prop making skills but also how to manage my time, work with others, and improve my interpersonal skills.

What subjects from school do you use today?

I studied Design and Technology at GCSE and A-level – I think I knew the curriculum inside out! At A-level, I also chose Drama and Art. I wasn't sure if Art was the right choice but this is the subject that led me towards theatre and production design.

An example of Miles' work.
Prop making uses many different crafts, such as metalwork, woodwork, and jewellery making. Credit: Miles Ascough.

Top tips

  • Be proactive. You'll be surprised how many opportunities are out there for someone who is willing to learn and try
  • Promote yourself. Self-promotion has been huge for me; 99% of my jobs have come through my website
  • Starting is sometimes the hardest thing to do – allow yourself to try and the rest will follow.

What to expect if you want to be a prop maker

  • Prop maker salary: Variable
  • Prop maker working hours: 42 to 44 hours per week
  • Entry requirements: To become a prop maker, your creative talent and model making skills will often be more important than formal qualifications. Volunteering for student productions, festivals, and amateur theatre is a good way to get experience and make contact with people working in the industry, which could help when looking for jobs. However, you can study a university degree in a subject like Prop Making, Arts Production, or Art and Design. You may also be able to get into prop making after training in related areas like graphic design, furniture making, or model making. You can find out more about working in props from ScreenSkills and Creative Choices.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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