Prop Land – The Low Down
What is Prop Land?
There are approximately 50 prop houses in Prop Land, offering everything you could imagine and some things you probably could not. This thriving huddle is based in W3 and NW10: that’s squeezed up against Park Royal and just a stone’s throw from the A40. The closest tube is North Acton on the central line – just two minutes walk away from the Prop Land’s largest house, Superhire. There is also another emerging prop land in Manchester based in and around the new BBC media city.
What is a Prop House?
A prop house is a warehouse crammed full of weird, wonderful and downright beautiful objects and pieces of furniture, all available to hire for film, TV, commercials, music videos and stills. Some will also hire to events. A prop house is defined by the fact that hiring is its sole purpose of trade, as opposed to a business that hires products as a secondary service. Their value is two fold: they offer industry-geared professionalism (a prop house is only as good as its bookmen) and hard to find period and design specific props.
How much do they charge?
Charges are worked out on a seven day hire and most houses won’t hire for less. The first week costs between 7 – 15 % of the RV (the RV can be called the ‘retail value’ or the ‘risk value’, depending on who you speak to) with hire charges decreasing every week that you hire. The lowest charges will go is 2.5 % (on films).
Can I just rock up and hire a prop?
When visiting a prop house for the first time, it’s a good idea to call ahead so a bookman can show you round. Bookmen are an invaluable resource when it comes to period and design, with an encyclopedic knowledge of their own props. If it’s a surprise first visit, just buzz the intercom (most houses have them), go to reception, ask for a tour and cross your fingers that somebody’s free.
How do I hire?
The production you are working for will need to set up a formal account with the prop house. This account will be for payment prior to collection or, more commonly, use a purchase order system. Your production must have production insurance. If anything should happen to a prop (i.e loss or damage) you will be liable to pay the RV amount cited on the invoice.
Once you have selected your props, the prop house will create a props list and invoice. Your return paperwork will be a purchase order (a purchase order is a contract to pay an agreed amount – check out our Plink purchase order guidelines here). Whenever quoting hire charges, bookmen will always talk ex VAT. Whilst the amount paid to prop houses (and cited on the purchase order) is plus VAT, the production will claim this back at a later stage.
Minding Your Manners
Don’t be shy – introduce yourself! It’s only polite to ask before taking pictures. Make sure you’re clear on your required collection date, the length of hire, the production company you’re working for (the house will check to see if they have an account), the name of the production and desired method of payment.
So Little Time, So Many Prop Houses…
Luckily for you, we’ve drawn up a list of some of our faves. Oh, and here they are plotted in google maps for your orienteering delight.