Summary of occupation
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.
Constructs, erects and installs structures and fixtures of wood, plywood, wallboard and other materials to make scenery, furniture and props for film and stage productions, and live events and exhibitions. Registration or licensing may be required.
Props maker, Scenic artist, Set builder, Set dresser
A prop and scenery maker needs:
- creative flair
- to be passionate about working in the entertainment or related industries
- high attention to detail, and strong problem solving abilities
- good communication skills, and to work well in a team environment
- good planning and organisational skills
- to be physically fit and have the ability to undertake manual labour for extended periods.
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.
On average, prop and scenery makers can expect to earn at least $1 179 per week ($61 308 per year), depending on the organisation they work for and their level of experience. As a prop and scenery maker develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.
Prop and scenery makers may be self-employed and/or work as part of a team as an individual sub-contractor. Earnings for sub-contractors or small business operators will depend on their level of skill and experience, the level of demand for their services, as well as the amount of work completed.
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.
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.
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.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.