NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – On a typical day for Allison Isenberg she can be found shopping around, but not for everyday items, on this day she is looking for medicinal turpentine.
“Yesterday I was looking for 1930s faucet hardware and today I’m looking for aspirin from 1932,” Isenberg said.
Isenberg is a set decorator, currently scouring for props for a show on Netflix – to fill sets from 1933 to 1962.
“I start be researching what kinds of things go for what era, and then I go and try and find it,” Isenberg said.
History For Hire, a family owned prop house in operation since 1985, is one of her favorite go-to spots for unique items.
“If I have any questions they’re a resource,” Isenberg said.
Pam Elyea says History For Hire has pretty much anything you are looking for, but they specialize in historical accuracy. Everyone on their team is an expert in some historical topic, even going to conferences all over the country to study time periods and items from those eras.
Elyea and her husband Jim’s business has provided props for some of the biggest films out there, from The Artist to La La Land. Most recently the shop supplied numerous props for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
“You never know from the beginning how big that film is going to be. A good example of that is The Artist. You felt it was almost an indie film going on, and then it goes on to glory,” Elyea said.
As Isenberg keeps searching for her items, Elyea points out with pride the role this shop plays in enriching not just sets – but young minds, too, saying props are important to social anthropology.
“So many people learn their history from movies and TV shows,” Elyea said.
Even though movies are make believe, props can make you believe you are actually venturing back in time to 1932.