It takes a lot of people to make a movie. It takes even more people to make a period-piece right. From the director of photography, sound director, assistant director and gaffer to the costume designer, hair/make-up personnel and the props master, the smallest details need complete attention.
When Lyman Beecher needed a pocket watch and bifocals during a pivotal scene in which abolitionist Theodore Weld and his supporters requested the historic anti-slavery debates at Lane Seminary, it was props masters Melinda Carriker and Sandy Freel who made sure actor Janos Horvath had a key-wound watch on a chain and bifocals on his nose.
Set in 1834, with scenes dipping into the 1850s and 1880s, finding period-correct props for Sons & Daughters of Thunder keeps Production Assistant Melinda Carriker on her toes. Fortunately, she has Sandy Freel's vast collection of antiques (which would make any Hollywood props master salivate) to draw from.
"We knew the project was going to be challenging, and Melinda is someone we have relied on heavily for our documentary projects Lost Nation: The Ioway 1, 2 & 3 and Country School: One Room - One Nation," said producer Tammy Rundle. "We are taking a lot of creative license with Thunder, and it is not easy to make a period piece on a tight budget. But we had no doubt that Melinda would be up for the challenge of finding the correct props for the film, and that Sandy Freel would be an incredible resource. They are a fantastic team."
Costume designer Emily Busha attends to final details on actress Jess Denney's dress.
When Harriet Beecher, played by actress Jess Denney, needed that extra special little piece of jewelry on her dress collar, Freel produced a human hairwork brooch. "Mourning jewelry" reflected the lives and times of the people who wore them. For hundreds of years, especially during the Victorian age, jewelry often times integrated human hair into brooches, rings and watch chains, which were then worn as a souvenir to remember a loved one. Harriet might have worn a mourning brooch in which to remember her deceased mother, Roxanna Beecher.
One of the most interesting requests for Carriker was an 1830s whale-oil/lard lamp to be lit during a scene in the Lyman Beecher home (see it in the Sons & Daughters of Thunder teaser at www.indiegogo.com/projects/sons-daughters-of-thunder).
Carriker's list of 'finds' has grown over the last five months of production on Thunder, including period pens, books, bibles, letters, jewelry, handbills, satchels and lanterns.
"Many times you watch a film and you do not realize all that went into making it "right". We are very fortunate to have a cast and crew on this project that are committed to making it the best that they can," said director Kelly Rundle. "It is the little things that make the difference--right down to that key-wound watch in Lyman Beecher's hand, when he takes note of the changing time."
Note: Sandy Freel presented Kelly & Tammy Rundle with the gift of the key-wound watch used in Sons & Daughters of Thunder.