Looks like a hundred-ton body, yet it weighs almost nothing; it’s sharp but couldn’t harm a fly; could be made for three months, but can only be seen for a few seconds on screen. What are we talking about exactly? With the help of Budapest-based Epic Creations, we could take a peek behind the scenes of the film industry!
Film production has been flourishing in Hungary in the past years, and as a result, people keep joining the film industry from various sectors: Dániel Suszt after ten years of radio work, while Zoltán Szalkai as an economist with 10 years of filmmaking experience decided to establish the company engaged in the manufacturing of custom-designed props under the name Epic Creations in 2015 . As laymen, we have every right to ask: what does this all mean exactly?
“Fundamentally we can talk about three divisions when it comes to movie objects: there is construction, responsible for the structure of the set of the movie; set decoration, “decorating” the built set with various objects and props, which are given into the hands of actors. We manufacture items for all three divisions, but props are the most complex. To figure out operable mechanics for a glue gun designed after 2100 to be used in a sci-fi is not an easy job” – Dániel told us.
But let’s take a look at the difference between construction, set decoration and props. The objects in the movie facilitate the work of actors: if for example Melissa McCarthy fights with a sharp object in an action scene, it should be made of rubber to make it harmless. If the actors are dragging a boat weighing a hundred tons, it must be featherweight in reality so that they can handle it as an object that can be easily moved. And they must do all this in a way to avoid any doubts in the audience about the reality of these objects. Epic Creations has been solving exciting tasks like this, with several large productions behind their back.
Let’s see a few examples
A classic set is the control room created for the series Treadstone, where the task was to create an imaginary launch control center where all the elements are operable.
There are even more absurd set elements in Epic Creations’ portfolio, such as the “witch catcher” designed for the series titled Emerald City, which is completely fictitious and serves the purpose of pulling witches to a place and killing them at the same time.
One of their most spectacular set decoration elements is the projector displayed in the Alienist series, which is not only notable, but also fully operable. As to props, the arsenal of weaponry made once again for the Alienist is a great example, the pieces of which look exactly like real ones, but in fact are soft rubber moldings (the following photos display the real weapons and the props next to each other – the Ed).
Additional important elements of movies include the different vehicles: Epic Creations created a historically authentic boat for the series titled Terror, which became easily moveable for actors owing to its wheels.
Out of what materials and how are these tools made?
“Our model makers are the backbone of our team, who can create props rich in details using the most diverse creative techniques, may it be a 15th century sword or a 22th century high-tech space weapon. In addition, we are continuously manufacturing metal and wooden structures, but through our permanent partners we can work with any material from glass through textile to liquid 3D printing“– Zoltán highlighted.
“In addition to the basic materials, we also work with a good amount of extra materials: from laminating resin and flexible urethane foam, really anything the prop or the scene requires. For example, we manufacture all knives, lancing or cutting devices with carbon reinforcement, but they must be soft from the outside, while remaining paintable and durable, too.Surface treatment is very important in the case of the completed props, as it will determine the appearance of a given object in the scene. At the end of production, we apply breakdown techniques, with which we can make the props completed look as if they were worn and used. If you take a good look, you’ll never see new objects in movie sets, even though chances are almost all of them were completed just a few days before shooting“ – Epic Creations detailed.
After getting to know all these tools and aspects, we were also curious about which objects are the most challenging to manufacture. “We have already done hundreds of projects, but I can safely say bikes come with the most trouble. It doesn’t seem like a complex task, but when you have to create 15 bikes that look as if they were made around 1940, you have to buy the proper seats, tires, pedals, handles, it takes a lot of time and energy. Compared to this, manufacturing twelve rescue boats for AMC’s series Terror was like child’s play“ – Dániel highlighted.
“I think the most challenging task was to manufacture 13 pallets of soft boxes for a film adaptation of a video game, which means more than 200 square meters of molding, in approx. 10 days, for 20-30 people. It took all we had due to its size and the time available. In the meantime, we were very happy that a foreign production contacted us” – Zoltán added.
Epic Creations’ main profile also includes the commercial production industry, but they also get enquiries for manufacturing special home furnishing objects from time to time, too. In addition, they have also built a food truck and an R2D2 figure intended for an escape room. Luckily the film industry did not shut down completely due to the epidemic, and so they recently finished their project for Uncharted shot in Berlin – currently they are working on a giant screen made of beer bottles, which will be so functional that even a video game will run on it.
If you are intrigued by the world of film props and set decoration elements, go and check out Epic Creations’ exciting references on their website!