Oral Histories

Interview of Maggie Schpak

Owner of Studio Art Metal, a shop that has provided metalwork for the costume and props department for hundreds of films and television productions.
The Crafts in Hollywood: Costuming
Film and Television
Biographical Note:
Owner of Studio Art Metal, a shop that has provided metalwork for the costume and props department for hundreds of films and television productions.
Collings, Jane
Schpak, Maggie
Persons Present:
Schpak and Collings.
Place Conducted:
Studio Art Metal studio in Glendale, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Jane Collings, principal editor and interviewer, UCLA Center for Oral History Research; Ph.D., Critical Studies in Film and Television, UCLA.
Processing of Interview:
The interviewer prepared a timed log of the audio recording of the interview. The interviewee was given the opportunity to review the log in order to supply missing or misspelled names and to verify the accuracy of the contents. Schpak made a few additions which were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
2.5 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
This series of interviews documents the work of costumers in the film and television industries in Los Angeles. The interviews preserve a dimension of Hollywood history and Los Angeles history that has been under-documented to date.
Grows up in Los Angeles--Mother's interest in the bohemian lifestyle and friendships within German emigre community--Hedi Schoop--Attends Pasadena Playhouse School of Theater Arts--Begins work at Western Costume Company--Buys the metal workshop at Western along with then-husband Tom Browne--Projects worked on--Changing technologies--Development of her interest in costume--Making decisions about how many and which projects to accept at Studio Art Metal--Works on jewelry for Rodarte--Works with contractors in LA area for casting and plating--Bill Reyhill--The trend toward increased historical accuracy in props--Eddie Aiona--Shift toward using CGI (computer-generated imagery) for props for large casts and extras--Tiara work--Work for Michael Jackson--Reuben Rubalcava--Mary Ellen Fields--Tendency for "prop guys" to be male.
Instances of sexism when starting Studio Art Metal and up until the present day--Difficulties finding people with the skills needed to work for her--The high demand for badges and the high degree of accuracy that is expected--Enjoys collaboration with people who are working on other aspects of design--Suzanne Bushnell--Harry Rotz--Enjoys working with Ellen Mirojnick--The dress code at Western Costume Company in 1967--The training process at Western Costume at that time--Enjoys working with Dorothy Jeakins, Robert Fletcher and Gary Jones--More on the recent emphasis on historical accuracy in props.