Editor’s Note: We culled your questions from Facebook and Twitter for this week’s Q&A with a Dirk Gently crew member. This week, it’s prop master, Jonathan Drover, with a guest appearance by Mara Cain, Buyer/Builder (and affectionately called “The Fixer” on-set.)
1. @Elya51 via Twitter: The weirdest thing that Max asked for you to create?
Jonathan: You tell us! That feels so much more like an end-of-season reader poll.
2. @madmel2002 via Twitter: If you could pick any prop to keep, which would you pick and why???
JD: If it worked as intended, the wand would be my first choice. Then I could just magic up my own scissor swords and rad armor.
3. @madmel2002 via Twitter: Do you ever just add in hidden to props that only you know of?
JD: It’s a secret! Wink wink!
Anything allegedly added to said “prop” would never detract from any function or narrative, of course, if any such thing were to ever happen.
4. @DATBOIIHALO via Twitter: Name of language hidden within the book?
JD: Unsure, but I believe our art director spent some time in a dusty library on a long forgotten island with a lost tribe of hermit monk scribes in order to translate it for the show.
5. @ocularnervosa via Twitter: How many extras do you have to make in case the actors break the prop?
JD: There is a saying in the prop department that goes: One is None. That said, anywhere from one back-up to five or six, depending on the action and what the prop is made of.
Mara: Some props are built specifically to be destroyed and need to exist in both states multiple times to get all the set-ups for a scene. Those props can number in the dozens!
6. Shantal B. via Facebook: What did they use to make the cover of the book? What are the crystals on wand made of? What is the inspiration behind all the funny thingimabobs that Dirk and Todd find? Who’s absolutely brilliant idea was it to use scissor-swords??? (Also, I want one of those)
JB: A bunch of questions in this one question!
A) The book was a number of techniques using leather and paper with some amazing painting skills, resin 3D printed gems, and laser-cut wood relief that was painted to match the wand.
B) The crystals on the wands are resin 3D-printed, molded and cast in a hard clear resin, then airbrushed for the color needed.
C) This is more of a Max question! But it is fun to work on designing props with him and figuring out how to make them come to life!
D) Again another Max question, but I do believe he said the scissor swords were one of his first major thoughts for season 2.
7. Toots M. via Facebook: Are the Lights inside The Mage’s wand practical effects? I dig its unique design and the way he holds it.
Mara: The Mage’s wand has a couple variations that are practical. I maintained and modified them as needed for different episodes. I haven’t seen this season yet, but there may be additional visual effects used for his wand as well.
JB: Fun fact! While checking out the boat used in the show, a mysterious curved branch was discovered inside the boat by Max and our intrepid Art Department team. They realized it was the perfect inspiration for the Mage’s wand, and the idea for the prop was born.
8. JediJills Steam Lab via Facebook: What medium/s do you suggest I tell my students to ask their family for on their holiday wish list? When my students are just beginning to form an interest in making something they have in their mind and possibly in a sketch, #1-I don’t have space in my classroom to store a wide enough variety of objects or collections of materials for all of them. #2-I can’t afford to supply all 450 students with what I would go out and buy if I was making something for myself. I can only seem to have playdough, and/or cardboard on hand when inspiration strikes them. And although we have made some pretty cool stuff with what we can scrounge up—sometimes certain ideas/things never seem to work out the way the student envisioned and they lose interest.:-( What would you recommend as essential tools for a budding K-8th grade prop master’s bag of tricks?
JD: #makerspace is probably my best answer to all of these wonderful questions. I have done a lot on a budget of repurposed items. I find the most success in my crafting when I keep an open mind: learn to fix my mistakes as they happen (cause they always do), and roll with the punches as things change all the time. Crafting = making mistakes in style.
Limited space, that’s a toughie. Barring some mysterious supply closet, stacking bins are a great option for storage. Pro tip: Label bins with pictures and list items inside for super-easy access.
Do a supply drive! This could include all kinds of things: basically anything from the craft store or the department store: think “repurpose.”
For electronic tinkering I absolutely adore: #raspberrypis and #arduino kits. They give us the availability to build our own electronics and the resources available online and from the kits themselves are tremendously useful learning tools!
I hope this helps!
9. Jennifer D. via Facebook: What’s your favorite medium to work in?
JD: I know you probably meant what physical medium is my favourite to work in, and my answer is “Ideas.”
What I mean by that is, we work in many different mediums as a department, often working in tandem with other people to produce a multifaceted end product. What does happen across the board are ideas. Many ideas are worked with, shaped, tossed around, and developed along the way. Some of my favorite work moments have been the design process moments — figuring out what works with what is desired, and making those elements meet together.
10. Scott S. via Facebook: What was the most difficult prop to create for Dirk Gently? How many wand variations were created before the final designs were settled on?
JD: Difficult is a hard term to define. A few of the props that went through extensive design processes were the scissor swords, the magical toy gun that Dirk finds (what is that thing called, Dirk?), and Suzie’s spellbook/wand combo. I couldn’t tell you exactly how many design versions there were, but I can tell you the shape of the Mage’s wand was decided by that magical boat branch I mentioned before.