SteamU; Saturday Night Movie, "Love, The Invention"

Dear SteamU Students,

I am delighted to present you with a weekend edition of SteamU. This weekend, I am featuring an article by Michele Brennen who is the producer of a new Steampunk film, Love, The Invention. You can learn more about the film, currently in production, at the film webpage: Love, The Invention. Today, SteamU Professor Michele Brennen will discuss creating props for a Steampunk film. I am delighted to have Michele stop by and excited to share this post with you! Grab your popcorn!

Steampunk Props in Film

by Michelle Brennen

Working as a producer keeps us on our toes. Working closely with the director and other producers, we see the film from first ideas to final submissions in film festivals and the like. So with that said, not only do I structure and organize the overall planning of the film, but I like to work creatively “side-by-side” with the Director. 

Right now I am working on a film called “Love, the Invention” or LTI for short. It is a romantic, sci-fi short film set in the 1900s featuring an inventor who evolves into a bitter recluse after the death of his wife. He creates a music box that harnesses the power of their love with which he is trying to bring her back to life. Not in a Frankenstein-ish way or anything; he is simply trying to make the music box run again, since it only works when they are together. 

The props are very key to this film as it revolves around a self-made music box. The inventions have brass, wood, gears and steam-punk-like fun stuff all over the place.

Below we see the guts of the music box that was crafted by our magical Art Director, Dave Hvisdos. This invention has to run on the energy of love therefore, it has to have moving partials. 

 Photo taken by Amanda Sauvé

We were having problems with this prop and since our Director of Photography, Steve Szolcsanyi is a man of many talents, we were able to get it up and running on a powered motor using a volume control knob. The volume control knob too was giving them issues as you can see and was later rectified by Steve. While filming, the music box was then operated by our Props Master.

If you love “Easter Eggs” then check out our next prop:

Photo taken by Michelle Brennen

This is Terry the Turtle. He was purchased by Dave and can be found throughout the movie in most scenes. I think Dave was trying to get him into every scene possible.

Another important prop that helps an actor to bring out his/her character is called a hand prop.

Below you will see a pair of spectacles that are actually from the 1900s. These were donated temporarily by my boyfriend’s mother, an antique collector. Her great grandmother had worn them. All glasses from that era were coed. The elderly version of our Inventor—played by Peter Higginson—had used these glasses to portray his character’s forlorn and stressed attitude while working on his inventions.

Photo taken by Michelle Brennen

Photo taken by Michelle Brennen 

Another prop that I will be discussing could also be known as a set decoration. Set decorations—or “set dec”—are various large items/furnishings that make up the room (i.e. bed, couch, paintings). This particular woodcarving art peace is hung on the wall next to our actress Victoria Murdoch who is portraying Tulip. I like this piece because it shows off the dramatic lighting/shadows of the scene. 

Photo taken by Amanda Sauvé

Photo taken by Michelle Brennen

Last but not least, I’d like to talk about prop photos. They are used to create a back-story for characters in film. They allow the audience to feel as though these characters are real people with real families and lives. Below you will find a prop photo of the inventor’s late wife Audrey played by Christina Aceto. 

Photo taken by Amanda Sauvé

Photo taken by Amanda Sauvé

Our Set Photographer, Amanda Sauvé had taken this outside at our exterior location. Now, most wedding photo’s in the 1900s were taken indoors with family but we thought that since this character is “modern”—and running short on time—we decided to take the photo outdoors. The wedding dress is a 1900s Victorian style, which was freely loaned to us.

Overall, you can see how props are very important in a film. They can help to bring out the character in an actor. They can create an inside joke for the audience to hunt. They can help to show off the artistic quality of the film and create backstories for the characters. They can also be just plain, well, awesometastic!

If you are interested in watching the outcome of Love, the Invention or want to know more please visit our website at

About Michele Brennen:


Michelle Brennen is a film and television producer based in Toronto, Canada. Her focus is on drama, sci-fi and children's programming. In every project, she combines her unique style, formal training and organized management system to ensure that everything is completed at a quality level on time and within budget. Please visit her website at or find her on Google+.

~Class Dismissed!

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