What is “Original”?

Article Summary: This is an important article and opinion piece that outlines my own personal criteria and tests for what artifacts (props, costumes, etc.) from a production (film or television) can be considered “Original”.

What is “Original”?

This is a somewhat frequent topic of debate among hobbyists – what is “original”? This is interesting, in that, as noted in my first topic of this blog, The Hobby Without A Name…, we all participate in this nameless hobby, so this is compounded by the fact that there are no universally recognized standards as to what even qualifies a piece, with certainty, to be considered an “original prop”.

This is an important question in that it defines that which is relevant to our hobby and that which is not.

My personal view is that any prop or wardrobe must pass the following test…

An “original” piece is something:

1) made by or acquired by the production,

2) during the production, and

3) used or intended to be used during the production.

All three of these traits would have to be true to be “original”.

I’ve thought of this a bit more since the discussion on the Movie Prop Forum (LINK), and in regards to the definition of the word “prop” or “property”…

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) – CITATION

prop·er·ty /ˈprɒpərti/

–noun, plural -ties.

8. Also called prop. a usually movable item, other than costumes or scenery, used on the set of a theater production, motion picture, etc.; any object handled or used by an actor in a performance.

“Property” sometimes implies literal ownership, and in the case of my “original” test above, I would make the case that production or studio “ownership” of said piece is not a requirement. In many cases, studios rent pieces that are employed in a production – a perfect example would be firearms. They are rented to the production, used during the production, and returned to the actual licensed owner. It is still an original prop, in my opinion.

Getting back to “original”, a multitude of issues crop up out of attempts to bend those requirements above to apply to other pieces (which are often what I would view post production replicas), but that is a topic for another day.

Jason De Bord


rev. 1.1, 10/21/07

Edited definition above, Item 1, to read:

1) made by or acquired by the production,

previously read:

1) made for or acquired by the production,

Reason for Edit: Use of “for” made the qualification somewhat redundant with Item 3.  As it reads with the revision, makes clear the original of the piece can be in-house or leased/purchased/rented/etc.

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