Friday, September 23, 2011

Movie Book Props: An Expert Forger

Movie Props: Book Forgery for Fun & Profit
via Shelf Awareness
Ross Macdonald is a typographer and editorial illustrator who moonlights as a creator of very special props for movies and television. He is a forger. The Atlantic reported that many of Macdonald's "most exquisite forgeries--or, more precisely, replicas--are currently seen, if you look closely enough, on the new season of HBO's Boardwalk Empire," for which he recently finished eight months of work on the second season. "I did probably 15,000 pages of documents, books, passports, tickets, newspapers, notebooks," Macdonald said.

For his first film, Baby's Day Out (1993), Macdonald "illustrated and handled the design and production of the children's book used to push along the movie's plot. The illustrations were also used in the opening credits, and appear full-screen throughout the movie," the Atlantic wrote.
More recently, for The Adjustment Bureau, he "printed and hand-bound over a hundred of the small books, in four different colored bindings. The large books are bound in a white material that I had custom made. In the scenes in the Adjustment Bureau office, we see shelf after shelf--over 2,200 in all--each filled with dozens of copies of the large white book. I made a couple of dozen of those books. The rest are faux." Those scenes were shot in the New York Public Library.
Macdonald said he has to "really think about the particular document: How old is it? Where has it been? Was it handled a lot or stored in a file? How was it handled and how was it used? If you look carefully at old books and documents, you can read a lot of their history from the stains and wear marks. A book cover may have rounded corners from being carried in a book bag. Wrinkled corners indicate that it was likely dropped. Often the bottom edges of the cover are worn a lot from the book being slid on and off a bookshelf a lot. Tears and wear on the top of the spine show that people pulled there to slide it out slightly from a tight bookcase, and you can often see stains on the front and back cover near the spine where hands have grabbed it to continue pulling it out. Book pages are more often stained and worn near the bottom because that's where people turn pages."

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