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TAKE 5 Background

For more than 40 years BENlabs has been proud to work with many of the top Property Masters in the television and film industry to bring brands to life on screen through the power of popular entertainment. Recently, BENlabs’ SVP of Global Strategic Partnerships, Caressa Douglas, connected with the President of the newly formed Property Masters Guild, Joshua Meltzer, to discuss his vision for the future of this newly launched organization, and what brands need to know to create the best on screen moments.

What defines a good Property Master?

I think there are a few traits that a good Property Master would possess. In general, we all are a touch OCD. We are all extremely organized and detail oriented. Anyone can figure out how to read a script and figure out the scripted props. But it takes experience and a keen eye to “read between the lines” and add the detail props.

What is/was your biggest hope in launching the PMG?

This launch has been years in the making. There are three main goals for me to call the PMG a success; First, that we can educate and train the next generation of Property Masters. There are quite a few Property Masters who are going to be retiring over the next 5 years. It is incumbent on us to pass on the tricks and education we have. Second, raising the status of the craft is paramount.

Due to a lot of antiquated thinking, Property Masters are seen as a blue collar craft, not as the designers and artists that we are. I hope the PMG can shed some light on all the varied talents that we have. Finally, I hope to be able to add some diversity to the craft. The craft is sorely missing people of color.

What background, training and experience do aspiring prop masters need to develop to be considered for guild membership?

The qualifications for membership are stringent, but that is because we do not want people who have worked on only a few shows. We want people who look at this as a career choice.

What role do props play in bringing a story to life?

This is a situational question. A prop can be very subtle, not even noticed on screen, but very important to the actor and his characterization. It can also be a huge story point, like a light saber, or Mary Poppin’s carpet bag. It can even be its own character, like Wilson in Castaway. No matter how they are used, props are a vital part of the storytelling process.

How can brands work best with prop masters to be an authentic and integral part of a story?

I think you said the word, authentic. Audiences are very smart these days. Having a can of soda, or a bottle of liquor sitting on a table, label squared to camera is very off-putting, because it does not seem real. I think the more creative Property Masters, and the Product Placement firms can be, the better the outcome for everyone. The placements need to be seamless, authentic.

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