Friday, May 25, 2012

"The Hand Prop Room" on Venice Blvd. Props Galore. Hollywood. How to rent a prop?

The Hand Prop Room--a huge warehouse where you can rent all kindsa-cool-props.

How to rent a prop?

For an assignment I had to go to a "prop" store and rent an item for a shoot. I decided to go to the "Hand Prop Room" at 5700 Venice Blvd. near Hauser, about half a mile away from Venice/Fairfax.  I've driven by this location hundreds of times and never bothered to think what HPR stood for.

I'm surprised they don't have a more "visual" sign outside advertising "props."  There were no inviting and welcoming signs from the street side of Venice Blvd pointing to the entrance just around the corner.  Very unassuming. Very non-descript. Hidden-LA baby!!! A treasure if you will.  Just a big door which was open that revealed the inside of what could be a bar or coffee shop. Props baby props!!! I got fooled!!! Ha ha!!

I'm sure people looking for Halloween accessories would looooooove this place and bring tons more business, but I don't think they have a problem with that.
(Above: Hmmm, I wonder if this meat was used as a punching bag in a movie, yes, you know which one I'm talkin'na 'bout!!! Doncha Adrienne?    

Rows upon rows, aisles upon aisles of "eye-candy."

   Video below of just "one" of the rooms/aisles in this massive building/warehouse

(Video above of the glass/silverware section)

To make sure that the assignment was carried out I had to furnish a receipt. No prob.  Of course identical items can be found at thrift stores, used stores, consignment stores, pawn shops, however, that was not the purpose of the assignment. I had to actually go to a "prop" store, you know, the kind that Hollywood movie companies go to when they need "period" pieces for their films.

Not only do the "movie" industry people go there to get their props, many stylists for photographers, as well as photographers go there to add authenticity to their shoots.   
It was very, very interesting.  Fascinating. Compelling. Holy mole, it was like a "horders" paradise.  lol!!! It was like a museum. It was like going back into time.  It was like reliving part of your childhood. It was like being transported to a specific year and time.  Stuff, stuff and more stuff. Where did they get those things?  Where do I start looking?  Did I go too fast down an aisle and miss something? 

They've got vintage........everything. Cameras from way back when.  Military guns. Al Capone type machine guns (you need a special permit to rent those.) Hand-made African tribal bowls and boats.  Things called VHS players and something called a tape-recorder (I hope I spelled that correctly!!!)  Authentic costume jewelery.  Typewriters. Clocks. Really cool 50s style sunglasses.  Bags? Bags galore.  The list goes on and on and on. 

Now, when I did ask the dude if they had any "Pan Am" stuff, he said "no."  And then he told me they can't have any "brands/labels" on the items due to copyright infringement!! When I asked him if they had any "model planes," he pointed me in the direction, and lo and behold, I found my "Pan Am" 1970's airplane.  With the over 190 gazillion items, with new items added daily, I'm sure the guy working there didn't remember the "Pan Am" toy-model plane!!! All good in the hood.

I asked the dude at the counter if "tour buses" ever dropped off tourists, because this would definitely be a visually stimulating place to see old and authentic Americana that most foreign tourists have only experienced through the movies.  He said no. The next time I have visitors over, from abroad or from here, I'm sure gonna take them there. Yes sirreee!!!  They have a whole bunch of vintage 50s items. James Dean and Elvis would feel at home.

 Neon signs galore.

How it works?  You see an item and you like it. Bring it (if it's not too huge) to the cashier on the 1st floor. They will scan it or look up a code. In my particular case, I wanted to do a "Pan Am" theme.   The item scanned as a "Propeller Planes Mounted." For a weeks rental the cost was $35. Yes, I'm sure I can find something like it at a thrift store for $5 which I would also get to keep,  but that my friend, like mentioned before, was not the purpose of the assignment. 

Then, they multiply $35 by 10 times.   What does that mean?  Well, for a mere $35 there are items that people wouldn't bother returning or conveniently misplace.  However, when you multiply the item's number by "ten" the likelihood of it being returned goes up sharply. Thus, I had to put a deposit of $350 on the plane.  My grand total was $385, of which I'll receive the $350 deposit back in a week.  And yes, they did charge my account.  So if an item is valued at $200, you betcha, you'll be charged $200 X 10 = $2000 (plus $200) for a grand total of $2200.  Real Hollywood money baby!!!

Items vary in price. My buddy Niklas and Fredrik (brothers from Sweden) rented an authentic WW II medal for 8 bucks. 

The replacement cost for this particular item is $550, which is another incentive "not" to loose the item and to bring it back. 

I'm looking forward to going there again. I'll be back........
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Below is a link to the Hand Prop Room's Webpage.

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