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Where does "old food" come from?

Old 06-19-08, 03:45 PM
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Where does "old food" come from?

To the mods: this thread is a technical question about props used in movies and TV shows. I wasn't entirely sure whether to post it in the "Movie" or "TV" forum, or even the "Other" forums since it's about both TV and the movies. In any case, please accept my apologies and move this to another forum if necessary.

So anyway... I was writing up a review of the U.S. remake of the Life On Mars TV show, which is set in 1972. I was thinking about how "generically 70s" the show is. Everyone on the show is in period clothing, for sure. But most of the time the cameras focus on something obvious - like a TV showing a Richard Nixon speech or a Pam Am billboard - to let the viewer know that it's supposed to be the 1970s.

As I was writing the review, I thought about Swingtown, the new CBS show about a bunch of swingers in 1976. In contrast to Mars, Swingtown seems to rely on subtler cues that it's supposed to be the 70s - food packets for example.

In fact, there was one scene in last week's Swingtown where one of the characters opened up a can of Tab soda. The can was perfectly straight (as opposed to most new soda cans, which curve slightly at the top). The can was bright and shiny and had the old-school "pull-top" opener.

So that got me to thinking... where do these props come from?

Are there companies in California that specialize in "re-creating" old consumer items?

Are Hollywood prop departments so specialized that they can recreate a can of soda from the 70s? I mean, including fabricating the can and everything?

Do movie and film studios have a giant warehouse full of food items from the past? If so, are these people actually drinking Tab from 1976?

Do food manufacturers have "vintage departments" that specialize in recreating their old products?

I can see where in many cases a prop department could take a "modern" can of soda and simply paint it to look like an old can (especially for shows like That 70s Show, which mostly had long shots of people grabbing a soda out of the fridge or something.

Again, I apologize for posting this in the movie forum (especially since all my examples are from TV), but this obviously applies to movies too... probably more so, since there are far more "historical movies" than "historical TV shows".

So what's the skinny on old consumer items?
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Old 06-19-08, 03:55 PM
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Old props laying about? Ebay? (Actually, I have heard of people finding old stuff on Ebay to use in movies. I can't think of any specific examples, but I seem to recall seeing a DVD extra or two that featured people talking about how they found nifty things on Ebay to use as props.)

If I were making a movie, I'd go with Ebay myself. Easier than recreating the old pieces.
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Old 06-19-08, 04:03 PM
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Old 06-19-08, 04:19 PM
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For old soft drinks, you'd be surprised to find there are some still in circulation. Galco's comes across some of these rare soft drinks as well as some are made in different countries.

The more abundant are candies from the past tho.
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Old 06-19-08, 05:51 PM
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Probably laying around on the floorboards of the old cars they use.

Seriously, I would be suprised if you couldn't contact a company a get what you need. At least on loan. Call up Kellogg's and ask for a 1962 Corn Flakes box for a movie you're filming and they would probably help you out.
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Old 06-20-08, 10:27 AM
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I believe this is all the responsibility of art department / prop master. The studio that's making the film / tv show, doesn't have anything to do with prop acquisition. Prop master are notorious for being resourceful. Besides prop house, thrift stores, antique stores, etc. They use ebay, and there are private collector's who will rent goods for production.
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