"It's not dilly-dallying silly work," asserts Megan Harris, better known to the internet as Meganprops on TikTok. "I like to say we're in the art army."
Harris's videos of her on-set shenanigans and prop work in Vancouver have amassed tens of millions of views as she gives people a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to get a single shot in a movie or TV show. Harris has shared the process of creating a crime scene with fake blood, distressing fake bones to look like human remains, and lots of sugar glass. "They love the breaking glass," she laughs.
One of her videos intersplices the finished footage from the Maya Rudolph film A Clüsterfünke Christmas with clips of Harris wrapping presents, handwriting pages in a ledger, painting Christmas ornaments, and dancing with a fake turkey. And while it looks like fun and games from the outside (and Harris says she loves her job) she also notes that everyone works incredibly hard.
It's no secret that movie crews have to hustle and keeping up that pace while also coming up with creative solutions to weird problems takes some serious imagination, talent, and commitment. "I think I've done a 22-hour day," she admits.
Harris first thought to share her unusual job with the public when she was on set aging a bookcase. "It reminded me of elementary school," she recalls, "making old letters with tea bags."
Her directors and producers supported her in showing off the art side of the business so long as she didn't reveal any information about the plot or actors (since there are provisions in her contract preventing that anyway).
What it takes to get the shot
One of the first videos she posted was of her and a colleague in the back of the prop truck wrapping up a fake dead body and carrying it out to set. She also posted a video of the grips who are responsible for rigging the equipment and moving structures on set. She filmed them manually moving lights past a window to mimic car headlights in the middle of the night. The only catch? It was broad daylight.
"People didn't even know my job existed," she says. "They had no idea how many people it takes to get one shot."
Harris has to be aware of minute detail in a scene even going so far as to put licence plates on every car that appears in a frame, including random ones that people have left where they're not supposed to. If it can't be towed Harris will slap a Washington licence plate (or that of whatever location Vancouver is pretending to be that day) on it so the show can go on. "Or we'll put a tree in front of it," she says. There's an entire department called "Greens" that carries around trees to transform the scenery and leaves to scatter so the set looks seasonally appropriate.
Some people get up in arms in Harris' comment section over parts of her job like the food waste in the movie industry which Harris says she also hates and does everything in her power to minimize.
"Fake blood causes arguments in my comments," she adds. People can be very sensitive about the darker side of her job where she makes the spooky or sinister come to life.
Her advice for breaking into the film industry
Harris was able to excel at prop making because of her love of art. She has a lot of experience turning things into other things. She used to gather mushrooms around B.C. and dry them and turn them into jewellery. "I make mushrooms into diamonds," she says.
She started out as a production assistant in the locations department for shows like Supernatural and Firefly Lane and worked her way up until she was under the props master on over 10 different shows from Hallmarks and movies of the week to feature films.
"It's a highly coveted job when people know about it," she explains. People in her comment section have started asking her how they can break into the industry and do the same work.
Her advice is to make connections and network as much as possible. Like many industries, experience is the best way into film and TV because there is no substitute for understanding set etiquette and the routine of things. Harris works closely with actors and directors to make sure their visions for the scene align and she says having common sense and being a good people person is crucial in those situations.
Sometimes you might end up working in a truck at 3 a.m. in the pouring rain. "We still make sure the props are perfect even in those conditions."
@meganprops Breaking fake glass asmr 🥴 #meganprops #fakeglass #behindthescenes #filmcrew #filmindustry #asmr #asmrsounds #asmrvideo ♬ Fairy Dust - Abaco Music Library