Asking for a friend who needs help (FAST!) finding a home for 200 to 300 scenic backdrops from film and television.
So, my friend (we’ll call him Huck) works for a theatrical scene services company in Albuquerque, and about two years ago they got a call from someone at a trucking company who had an abandoned trailer full of “we think it’s some kind of scenery and do you want all of it?” It turned out to be about 500 to 600 painted and photographic backdrops for film and TV, and yes, they did want them. The company has been storing them ever since, and even though they’ve donated/sold about half, they can’t afford to store them anymore.
Here’s the email from Huck:
So we have approximately 200-300 professionally painted backdrops, possibly more, from film and television, mostly Warner Brothers, ranging in size from around 10 feet x 12 feet to around 35 feet x 120 feet. Most are from the past 20 years or so, some go back to the ‘40s or ‘50s (the earliest dated one we’ve found is from 1952). The majority are uncatalogued and unlabeled as to the project they were attached to, but we do have photos of some of them. Most are translucencies. The painted ones are on either muslin or canvas, the photographs are on photo paper. Most are stored rolled and still attached to battens (up to approx. 40 feet long), however some are folded (mostly larger pieces, webbed and grometted), and the photographic drops are rolled in tubes (up to approx. 20’ long). We’re looking for someone who can use them.
If we don’t find someone interested in them, we’ll be auctioning off the entire lot this Saturday. I know this is really short timing. I can probably delay the auction if anyone is willing to pay something up front. If it was just me, I'd be more than happy to wait. Anyone interested can come by the shop on Friday, February 22, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and still buy individual drops.
There are representative samples of the types of drops that are included posted here. These are not part of what we’ll be selling, but they are of the same type, quality, and size (except the Looney Tunes). They’re beautiful, but we don’t have the space or resources to catalogue and store the remainder.
Thank you so much. I wish I'd asked you a month ago. Running too much to have me a good think.
My friend’s scenic company has:
- tried selling them (mostly unsuccessfully) on eBay;
- directly contacted numerous theatrical companies both locally and elsewhere;
- donated some to schools both locally and elsewhere;
- contacted some film/tv studios (they don't have as many contacts there as in the theatrical community);
- posted the backdrops on their website;
- posted the backdrops on the websites of other theatrical sales and rental companies;
- posted the backdrops through theatrical email lists and such;
- tried a lot of word of mouth (apparently, the national theatrical community is actually small enough that that does mean something);
- even painted over some of them for their own use.
These backdrops are beautiful, and represent an enormous amount of work. You’d think there would be some interest in them as historic artifacts (maybe in LA?). Or did the film/tv industry consider these sort of backdrops disposable?
Huck would love ideas about places/people he could contact to find a home for these backdrops, preferably to sell (so they can recoup some of their storage costs), but also to donate. Or maybe even other (non-theatrical) uses? Or if anyone would like to get in touch with him directly, or wants to go by the Albuquerque shop in person, please MeMail me for Huck’s contact/directions to the shop.