Prospect – Behind the Scenes – Zed’s Spear

Prospect, the film I worked on last year building and finishing props and sets, premiered nationwide and is now even available to pre-order on Blu-ray or on iTunes! With that, I’ve been given the okay to do a handful of behind-the-scenes posts about a couple of the things I worked on for the movie. One of the worst things about working on a movie is that sometimes, nobody gets to see your hard work – things get left on the cutting floor all the time. While it isn’t the only thing of mine that didn’t make it on screen, this is the thing I was the most proud of that got cut, figuratively and literally – Zed’s Spear rifle. It’s the one hero prop I made myself from scratch, and I think it’s beautiful! Joe is the guy who designed most (maybe all) of the energy weapons for Prospect. I was given this 3D model/blueprint of the base design, given a budget, and told to make it look cool and utilitarian.

Step one was doing a test with some scrap wood to make sure I could do all of the bevels and metal inlays in a way I was confident in before cutting into the good stuff. As you can see the weapon is made of 6 lengths of wood in a hexagonal shape. I did every bevel cut of the wood and aluminum strips with a table saw.

With the budget I was given and a desire for an exotic look, I spent about 30 minutes drooling over the wood at Rockler before deciding (with approval from the Art Director) on purple heart wood. On the left is the wood in my car on the way home from the shop. On the right is all of the strips, cut, grooved, and ready for assembly.

For the blades, because this was a hero prop and not for cosplay, I could use real metal. But I could use aluminum to make it lighter and easier to work with. I cut the base shapes out with a scroll saw and then sanded the curves down on a spindle sander.

Then I glued the blades, pieces of wood, and aluminum strips together with a combination of wood glue and gorilla glue.

Once that was done I got to use a mill for the first time and carved down the flat and rounded parts of the shaft and spear head to match the design.

And with that, the base spear was complete and matched the original design perfectly. As a spear, it was already a pretty formidable weapon. BUT, like most of the weapons in Prospect this was both an energy weapon AND a melee weapon. Figuring out the functionality of the energy weapon piece went to me. The only other design direction I got was that the base should have some mechanism that could charge the weapon via kinetic energy. The rest was up to me.

Part of the challenge here was that Zed is one armed and while the weapon needed to be usable one-handed, it needed to be designed for a two-handed person as well. I decided on a mid shaft trigger mechanism along with additional grips near the head and tail of the shaft. The spear could be used right or left handed, under arm, over arm, and as a thrusting melee weapon by quickly changing hand positions. It could also be charged and fired one-handed. Also, I wanted the hand grips to be natural and organic looking without just being the usual leather wraps on a shaft. Enter my first time using Worbla! I made the three grips and embedded the trigger and wires under the grips to hold them in place, then painted and weathered them.

I don’t have any great photos of the charging mechanism but here you can kind of see it, plus I love the look of wonder on my son’s face checking it out  The base has a pad connected to the shaft with 5 large springs and a capacitor in the center. The idea being that the spear is pounded on the ground, generating energy that is stored there until the trigger is pushed and its released down the shaft and our the head.

Here is me on set during production on the day that the scenes with Zed and my spear were going to be shot (yes, that’s right, I wore my own shirt on set). The director wasn’t sure if he liked the spear design anymore and felt it didn’t really fit into the aesthetic of the film. He asked me to go back to the van and add a few more greebles to try to make it a bit more tech/obviously an energy weapon.

Using what I could scrounge up, I put some more blatant electronics onto the spear, but it still wasn’t enough. The director had an idea – let’s just cut the spear head off and make it a pole rifle – rudimentary but still exotic. To his credit he also said he would let me decide. I could leave the spear alone guaranteeing it would not be used, or I could chop it off and he would use it that day.

Killing your darlings will always be the hardest thing you do. Trust me. This broke my heart, but at the end of the day, Zed needed a weapon, and I wanted my hero weapon in the movie.

The final form of Zed’s weapon that actually got used and filmed that day. While it wasn’t totally cut from the movie, the one scene that made it to the screen where he uses it, the weapon itself is 99.9% obscured and so is unrecognizable. But I know its there.

 

 

 

Prospect – Behind the Scenes – Ammo Chargers

Prospect, the film I worked on last year building and finishing props and sets, premiered nationwide and is now even available to pre-order on Blu-ray or on iTunes! With that, I’ve been given the okay to do a handful of behind-the-scenes posts about a couple of the things I worked on for the movie.

 

The first charger I built was a hand crank portable charger for Damon’s thrower (the same one I built a case for). I used a plastic housing from our junk bin and found a piece of old electronics that had a motor on it. I glued it into my box and then sealed up the sides.

I then cut and drilled out a piece of scrap aluminum for the handle shaft.

I attached a few other assorted connectors, made the handle out of EVA foam, painted it to match the thrower case, and then cut three clip channels out of EVA foam for the top (this was with everything done except for sealing and painting the EVA foam – unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the final look – but you can see it in the movie!)

The second charger I made was an external, more universal charger. The box as made from some pieces of scrap sheet metal and some pieces of MDF I cut down from scraps. On the top of the box are the ammo ports – The first 3 rows are for ammo clips we designed, 3D modeled, and I printed on my printer at home (we didnt have one in the shop). The back ports are for several tube style ammo we had on some of the weapons. I ripped all of those off of some old circuit boards we had (there were a ton of different sizes but these happened to match up in size to the ammo we’d already created).

Because this charger box was meant to be rugged for camp/travel use, I dirtied it up real good. I made sure to get a few splatters as if it had been dropped down into some mud too.

And then was told it was too blue and the director needed it to be less blue. Instead of starting completely over, I made a light wash with some acryclics and went over the entire thing. It changed the hue enough without really impacting the weathering.

I then connected a giant, long cable to it and on set, it was plugged into the merc’s ship. This is a photo I took of it on set, its much harder to find in the film but you CAN see it if you are looking 

 

Prospect – Behind the Scenes – Prisoner Box

Prospect, the film I worked on last year building and finishing props and sets, premiered nationwide and is now even available to pre-order on Blu-ray or on iTunes! With that, I’ve been given the okay to do a handful of behind-the-scenes posts about a couple of the things I worked on for the movie.

Prisoner in the box (screenshot from trailer).
Prisoner box at the camp (screenshot from trailer).

Seen briefly in the trailer is this prisoner in a box (no spoilers – go see the movie).

The pristine box as it was handed over to me.

The box was built by our amazing team and handed off to me pristine and white. But this is a cell that’s seen plenty of wear, tear, and environment.

This was the box after the first pass of weathering. One thing I want to bring up because it took a couple of days for me to wrap my head around this when I started as well – so many techniques for doing finish/weathering work, are the same across so many things and are really just a difference in scale. I started my skills on scale-model aircraft, Star Trek ships, and Gundam model kits many, many years ago. Doing props and costumes carried over a lot of those techniques onto a life-size scale. Transitioning to sets was just another order of magnitude up, but utilizing a lot of the same skills. So instead of putting a few drops of paint and some water on a palette to give a 1/144 scale robot a wash, it’s a few ounces of acrylic paint mixed with water in a spray bottle and instead of wiping it down with a piece of paper towel, its using big shop rags. Same technique, just on a different scale. Once I wrapped my brain around it, it instantly became less intimidating!

Detail photos of the final weathering on the box. I used a variety of paints, charcoal, pastels, and even real rust to weather and age the box.

More details.

And even more, more details.

 

Prospect – Behind the Scenes – Air Filters

Prospect, the film I worked on last year building and finishing props and sets, premiered nationwide this weekend and is now even available to pre-order on Blu-ray or on iTunes! With that, I’ve been given the okay to do a handful of behind-the-scenes posts about a couple of the things I worked on for the movie. A seemingly minor detail but breathing on an alien world is critical and every character has a breathing filters of some sort. The base for the filter was modeled and printed before I was brought on board, but I did the finish work on most of them.

Ezra, played by Pedro Pascal, had a special version of the air filter with a four button control system and double hookup.

I also made all of the filters that go inside the filter box. You can see a little orange poking out and that is painted EVA foam wrapped around the ends of a length of foam backing rod. Some of the filters were made new and packaged (didn’t make it into the movie) and others were weathered at various stages of use.

The four button side addition was scratch built by me using various parts in our junk bins.

For all of the air hoses, we wanted them to be easy to put on and off, so quick connects seemed like a no-brainer EXCEPT we didn’t want anything to be obviously recognizable as modern technology so for all of the connectors on the filter boxes, I hid the base of the quick connect in a resin cast cut off from some other parts we were using. This also gave us a nice easy way to mount them onto the filter boxes.

A variation on the filter can also be found in the Green Moon Guide (which you can get on the Regal Cinemas app or site with reward points).

Prospect – Behind the Scenes – Cee’s Helmet

Prospect, the film I worked on last year building and finishing props and sets, premiered nationwide this weekend and is now even available to pre-order on Blu-ray or on iTunes! With that, I’ve been given the okay to do a handful of behind-the-scenes posts about a couple of the things I made for the movie. I’m only going to share some of my photos of items that appeared in the trailer for now because I don’t want to spoil anything!

Cee’s Helmet was made by someone else, but it was my job to do some of the final finishing on the helmet to meet the director’s aesthetic. When I got the helmet, there were a lot of shiny “metal” parts that looked out-of-place in our far future, gritty frontier, and I was tasked to make them look more matte black and beat up. I relied on my trusty old friend, Plasti-Dip!

After masking everything off, I coated the metal looking parts in Plasti-Dip then careful scraped edges and bits to reveal the original metallic paint for scuffing and wear and tear.

I also added these cool screw heads onto the helmet so these pieces didn’t just look stuck on to the face plates.

Because these were hero helmets that would be worn a lot, the face shields were actually made in triplicate. This allowed for cleaning and easy swapping between takes and as emergency backups. However, for the sake of continuity, all the weathering had to match. It was a lot of fun ensuring that all three had identical wear and tear and dirt.

The final element of the helmets were lights. Almost all of the helmets in the film had removable flashlights/headlamps, and I was tasked with finishing and figuring out how to attach them. Cee, Damon, and Ezra all had this same style of light. For both Cee and Damon’s helmets they attached via magnet. Ezra’s helmet was a bit more difficult and I ended up making a custom clip for it to slide onto the frame of his facemask while looking like it wasn’t clipped on. (Sorry I didn’t manage to get a photo of that). As far as techniques go, I used one of my favorite for scratched, painted metal – make it as real as possible! Instead of painting silver/metallic over the paint where I wanted chipping, I actually painted the entire thing with metallic paint first, then the outside layers of paint, then very carefully scratched and chipped off paint where I wanted wear and tear. It gives a lot more realistic chipping and wear in my opinion. The dirt and grime are just a variety of acrylic paints.

Prospect – Behind the Scenes – Thrower Case

Prospect, the film I worked on last year building and finishing props and sets, had it’s theatrical release in LA and NY this weekend and is now even available to pre-order on Blu-ray or on iTunes! With that, I’ve been given the okay to do a handful of behind-the-scenes posts about a couple of the things I made for the movie. I’m only going to share some of my photos of items that appeared in the trailer for now because I don’t want to spoil anything!

Just announced, you can download the ‘Green Moon Manual’ via the Regal Cinemas app or website for just 100 credits!

The Boscelot Frontiersman page is all about Cee’s thrower and features the case I made for it! Cee is the main character, played by Sophie Thatcher in the movie.

To start out I gathered up all of the thrower pieces (that were available, I had to guess on a couple) and figured out a good layout for them inside the case and to get an idea of the overall size of the case. I traced everything out to get a template for my foam later as well. Unfortunately I don’t have photos of the next step but I then cut out the outside case from foam board! I scored it and made it so it would lay flat and fold up to the dimensions I needed.

I then coated the entire foam core box with some extra fabric the wardrobe department had laying about. Then I used my template to hand cut out the insert from EVA foam. I used the same technique I mentioned on the aurelac case – scoring the foam where I wanted cut outs then heating it to make them pop and get a crisp line. What made this trickier is that not all of the pieces are the same thickness but we wanted everything laying flat. You can’t really tell in this photo, but all of the pieces are indented to different levels. To accomplish that I cut all of the pieces out all the way through and then glued the cutouts back in at the right depth before trimming the excess off of the back! I also added a strap to hold the manual because of course the team created a manual for our fake space gun 

Yes, even in the distant future, things are branded so I needed to add a little holder to the outside for the tag.

Although I had embedded magnets in the case flaps, we were worried about the contents being too heavy and the case accidentally flopping open and spilling stuff during shooting so I added two straps as well. Side note, this left over fabric didn’t quite match the color of the fabric that had been used on the thrower itself and we wanted it to so I lightly sprayed the fabric with 2 different Montana Gold spray paints to get the color just right. Then I grimed it up with some charcoal and colored chalk dust (one of my favorite weathering techniques especially on porous/textured fabric)

Here are the almost final thrower parts all loaded into my case!

And lastly, here is a photo of the case fully loaded with the hero prop taken on set!

If you are in Seattle or Portland, I’m going to be seeing the movie once in each city this coming week, and I’d love for you to join me, say hello, and hang out!

Prospect In Theater Meetups in Seattle and Portland

As I’ve now mentioned a couple of times, I worked on a bunch of props and sets on the movie Prospect, coming to theaters in November. You can check for tickets in your area and brownie points to anyone who gets a photo of my name in the credits! (I may select a couple of people to receive a small goodie for sending me such a photo!)

But I have also setup a meetup at a showing of Prospect in both Seattle and Portland, and I’d love to see you there and watch the movie together!

The first meetup is on November 8th at the 6:45pm showing at the Regal Meridian 16 in Seattle. Check out the event page! Bonus — this showing also includes a Q&A with the director/writers!

The second meetup is on November 11th at the 7:20pm showing at the Regal Fox Tower in Portland. Check out the event page!

Prospect – Behind the Scenes – Fuse Box

Prospect, the film I worked on last year building and finishing props and sets, is now scheduled for theatrical release nationwide starting November 2nd and is now even available to pre-order on Blu-ray or on iTunes! With that, I’ve been given the okay to do a handful of behind-the-scenes posts about a couple of the things I made for the movie. I’m only going to share some of my photos of items that appeared in the trailer because I don’t want to spoil anything!

Screenshot from the trailer.When I arrived, I was handed this CNC cut box with all of these cutouts. It was meant to be a fusebox inside a beat up spaceship. I started out by spraying the entire thing with a metallic silver. I then used liquid masking tape to mark off where I wanted the major chips and scratches. I then painted the whole thing a darker, WRONG color than what they wanted. I did this because I wanted to do a little bit more liquid masking tape in some of the same spots to get a layered paint chip effect. And here it is! This is the CORRECT final paint color after I’d taken off all of the liquid masking tape. In some spots you can see the paint layers. I also added some metal grills and details from our scrap bin. I then proceeded to assemble the entire box and do some rusting effects. Then came installing the box into the space ship. You can see this is the same corner Sophie Thatcher is sitting in in the trailer. The tubes being hooked up are meant to be conduit. I made the conduit tubes out of insulation rods covered in the same cotton sock material I used in the aurelac case from my previous post. Once I had all of the conduit tubes in place where I wanted them, I coated them in Shellac. It was a really easy way to give them a patina of sorts AND make them more rigid. So the last component to come together on this were the fuses themselves. The set designer of the box had an idea of how they should function but not exactly what they should look like. I’d went scavenging through our misc parts for an idea when I found, laying inside the ACTUAL fuse box in our shop, a really old tube fuse with a paper label on it.One of the metal working guys bent three steel tubes for me that fit into the slots on the box and I worked with the Graphic Design Supervisor to come up with paper labels that would fit our world. Once they were properly weathers, I mounted them into the box permanently as they didn’t need to move and I didn’t want to risk one falling off.

Prospect – Behind the Scenes – Aurelac Case

Prospect, the film I worked on last year building and finishing props and sets, is now scheduled for theatrical release nationwide starting November 2nd and is now even available to pre-order on Blu-ray or on iTunes! With that, I’ve been given the okay to do a handful of behind-the-scenes posts about a couple of the things I made for the movie. I’m only going to share some of my photos of items that appeared in the trailer because I don’t want to spoil anything!

Screenshot from the trailer of the Aurelac case.

I was handed a pelican case and asked to make it look cool for displaying a cache of Aurelac. I started by cutting a layer of EVA foam to fit the lid and over the normal Pelican foam.

I decided 9 octagons would look pretty cool, so I drew it out and then scored the foam with my snap blade.I then heat sealed the foam with a heat gun which also got the lines to pop. This ensured that the very top edges were sharp and crisp.I then proceeded to cut the octagons out all the way through the foam.I then dug out some squares from the Pelican foam and tacked down a length of cottom tube sleeve to make a pocket for sign off from the Production Designer and Director.I got the green light so did the rest. The socks were held down with Super77.I then glued the EVA foam down with Super77 and loaded up the Aurelac!

‘Prospect’ to Premiere at SXSW

Remember that big NDA I mentioned? While I can’t reveal many details, I can share this photo and let you know that Prospect is premiering at SXSW! There are at least 6 things in this photo that I made or did the weathering/finishing on 😀 Prospect is an amazing sci-fi film starring Sophie Thatcher, Pedro Pascal, Jay Duplass, Andre Royo, Sheila Vand, and Anwan Glover. Are you going to SXSW? If so, please see our film!

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