Mad Props documentary review

‘Mad Props’ is a documentary written and directed by Juan Pablo Reinoso, and follows Tulsa banker Tom Biolchini as he journeys across the world to talk to prop designers, museum curators, and even actors to find out why they revere props from films as artifacts. It’s as compelling as it is positive, with worthwhile interviews unraveling what it is about such seemingly unimportant items that have captured people’s attention.

Juan Pablo Reinoso

What must be commended right away is the worldwide aspect of the documentary. It would have been too easy to stick to the USA, but Reinoso and Biolchini recognise that fans from all over the world have a view and represent that with interviewees from the UK, France, and Italy, acknowledging the worldwide love of the many franchises that has defined many people’s lives.

Tom Biolchini is an engaging lead, someone whose positivity is infectious. It’s impossible not to smile along with him when he’s showing off props with his family, or getting new props and unboxing them. It’s this that makes him fun to watch and his story is just as interesting as everyone else who’s interviewed.

This interview list that’s been assembled is impressive and covers a wide spectrum of people involved with props, ranging from collectors, industry experts, designers, and even a few famous faces, such as Robert Englund, the actor who played Freddy Krueger from ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street.’ Another interview that allowed Biolchini and the rest of the crew to delve into the behind-the-scenes of prop-making was with Academy Awar nominee Alec Gillis, the legendary monster maker and founder of Studio Gillis.

Juan Reinoso and the Mad Props documentary

Including fans and industry insiders alike is crucial in adding weight to the documentary and eliciting different insights into collecting, making, and using the famed props. It’s striking to see why so many people are now interested in props, and it’s heartwarming to know that these people got into collecting for reasons other than because the props will likely increase in value.

A key takeaway that’s uncovered through these interviews is the importance of preservation. Collectors are preserving the hard work of prop designers from being lost to time, something that’s especially important in the age of CGI, where props that might have been real before are now computer-generated. It’s a different angle to how most people might consider prop collecting, but one that’s just as important as fans doing it because of nostalgia.

Juan Reinoso and the Mad Props documentary

The documentary does feature a small amount of interviews that feel short and insubstantial, but these are the exceptions and don’t detract from the overall roster. The questions and interviewees make or break documentaries, and here there are few complaints.

Juan Reinoso and the Mad Props documentary

One thing that does get slightly distracting is the camera. While the shots draw no complaints, there is constant camera shake throughout the documentary, sometimes pulling viewers out of the experience. It does make things feel somewhat amateurish. However, during interviews, the camera is still, allowing the audience to focus on what’s being said. The lighting used is appropriate for scenes, and the shots used are well-chosen.

The documentary also showcases the rise in interest in fan response to collecting props, with more and more people seeking out ways to keep bits from their fandom. It largely does this through anecdotal pieces (though also an interview from, the CEO and founder of Propstore in London Stephen Lane) rather than the inclusion of any stats or figures to show the meteoric rise in buyers and collectors, which is a slight disappointment as it would have backed up the idea just that bit more.

Juan Reinoso and the Mad Props documentary

An in-depth look at the many reasons why people cherish props from films and shows they love, ‘Mad Props’ highlights the love many have for the memorabilia they collect. It’s a well-told story that features a lead with boundless positivity, authoritative interviews, and uncovers interesting insights into the world of prop collecting. Some moments are let down with a shaky camera and interviews occasionally feel insubstantial, but the overall package succeeds in what it sets out to do.

Kieran Burt

My name is Kieran and I am based in the UK. I love writing about all things science fiction and fantasy, particularly Star Wars and Marvel. When I’m not writing or watching anything sci-fi related, you can probably find me exploring the open worlds of alternate lands through my Xbox.

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