Made in Spare Time

100 Movies, 100 Props - My New Project

Hi there! My name's Alex and I'm setting out on a quest to watch the top 100 movies of all time and make a replica prop from each of those movies. You might say to yourself "Why would anyone do that?" or "That sounds like a lot of work." And you're absolutely right. It is going to be a lot of work. But that's because this is a quest that's focused on the process of the journey more so than the destination. A couple common questions come to mind when I've mentioned this project to others and I'll try my best to answer them below!

Why would you want to do that?

I've always wanted to watch the classic movies that inspire many of the great filmmakers of today. I've heard of a good portion of these movie titles mentioned by writers and directors talking about the movies that influenced them. And while I could eventually get around to watching all of them, this list will make sure that I methodically watch all of these movies. Let's face it. After a long week at work, I doubt that I'll ever sit down and just flip on a movie that I've never heard of like "Yankee Doodle Dandy" without some outside influence.

The prop building aspect of this comes from my love of replica movie props and my drive to practice making more things with my hands. I've slowly grown a collection of tools in my small garage that I'd like to put to work. Along the same line as watching movies, I need a little kick in the rear end to keep me focused on continually moving forward. By making more things in my shop, I'm hoping that I can better learn my tools and hone my crafting skills.

I've also enjoyed reading posts at (The Replica Prop Forum) where people research iconic movie props to replicate them. It might sound silly but it is really enjoyable to be able to hold a recreated piece of film history in your own two hands.

Alongside lurking the forums over at The RPF, I've thoroughly enjoyed watching Adam Savage's videos over on the Tested channel where he demonstrates his craft of replicating props. Watching him has inspired me to take on my own similar projects!

Which list of top 100 movies will I be tracking?

I'm taking the dive into cinema with the AFI 100 Years…100 Movies - 10th Anniversary Edition list.

First off, I'll admit, I've wanted to watch movies that were primarily spoken in English. That way, I wouldn't have to read a whole bunch subtitles while completing this massive project. I do plan on, some day, going through and watching the top foreign films as well. For now, I'm sticking with a list of American movies.

I also considered IMDB's list of top 100 movies but that has two main problems for me. Number one: The list changes too often which would make it difficult to get through the list while trying to constantly hit a moving target. And second, the list has a clear case of recency bias which skews the top 100 movies. While there are certainly a great number of movies made in the past decade or two, I feel like a true representation of the top 100 movies of all time would have more of a spread across cinema history. This seems to be reflected in the AFI Top 100 list from reviewing the criteria by which the list was made. The American Film Institute (AFI) asked "a jury of over 1,500 leaders from the creative community, including film artists (directors, screenwriters, actors, editors, cinematographers), critics and historians" to pick the top 100 movies with the follow requirements:

  • Feature length: Narrative format typically over 60 minutes long.
  • American film: English language, with significant creative and/or financial production from the United States. (A number of films on the list were British-made but financed by *American studios; these include Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and A Clockwork Orange.)
  • Critical recognition: Formal commendation in print, television, and digital media.
  • Major award winner: Recognition from competitive events including awards from peer groups, critics, guilds, and major film festivals.
  • Popularity over time: Includes success at the box office, television and cable airings, and DVD/VHS sales and rentals.
  • Historical significance: A film's mark on the history of the moving image through visionary narrative devices, technical innovation or other groundbreaking achievements.
  • Cultural impact: A film's mark on American society in matters of style and substance.

How often am I going to post?

I'm hoping that I can keep on track to work through a new movie every two weeks. First, I'm planning to do a write-up on watching the movie, then following up the next week with a newly crafted prop. That should give me enough time to watch the movie and go through the process of picking a prop, planning its construction, and then actually building it. I could be completely off with how long it's going to take to get everything done but two weeks is my hope. Only time will tell!

I will also try to regularly post on my instagram to provide updates between the weekly blogs. If you want to support me, feel free to share this with your friends and leave a comment down below!

Now, if you'll please excuse me. It's time to pop some popcorn and get to work!