Assistant Manager, Props
Universal Studios Hollywood
Years Active: 30+
How did you get your start? What was your first job/gig?
I had an interest in theatre from an early age. I was fascinated by the magic of stagecraft. In high school, I worked on every production. I tried my hand at many jobs- scenic, lighting, performing, and props. I volunteered at the local community theatre to run shows and took classes at their summer school in makeup and basic technical theatre. My first paying job was as a prop shop over-hire at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Did you go to school or have any formal training that helped prepare you for your career?
I went to a four year program and received a BFA in Technical Theatre with a focus on Props.This gave me a well rounded overview of all of the arts and how they related to each other and to entertainment design. Art history, architecture, graphic design, and literature courses were also really helpful.
What are some of the challenges you’ve had in your career? How did you overcome them?
Most of the challenges I faced relate to transitioning from fabrication skills in a shop setting to more managerial work. I needed a better understanding of regulatory requirements (fire, chemical, and safety) and how to best manage people in a corporate setting. I looked to others to help fill in my lack of knowledge.
What is your advice for those starting out in the Art Department?
Load up your toolbox with lots of different types of skills. Start with what interests you and see how that leads you to other skills and disciplines. The more you are capable of doing, the more employable you will be. Learn from others around you by observing quality behaviors and skills. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Share knowledge and network.
Photos in Interview (from top to bottom): -Fabric Work, Eureka Parade- Disney’s California Adventure 2001 -Tony with handcrafted macrame owl, used for Stranger Things maze- Halloween Horror Nights (USH) 2019
Tony prepping a Christmas tree for Krampus Maze- Halloween Horror Nights (USH) 2016
Scratch built Etagere (pine, plywood, plexi mirror)- Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Tony on site for Halloween Horror Nights (USH)
Whoville show props- Grinchmas (USH)
Krampus set dressing- Halloween Horror Nights (USH) 2016