Pandemic Production: Matt Poitras, Props Manufacturer

“Nobody had $400 to spend on a Han Solo belt."

Matt Poitras on the set of his new film. (Photo by Danny Mason)

Matt Poitras, Owner of MP Filmcraft, props fabricator
Credits include: Vikings of Jomsborg, Gladiators: Back From the Dead

If there’s a niche, there’s a filmmaker filling it, with a deep and rich knowledge of the scene they’re covering.

Matt Poitras has now directed two documentaries about Viking reenactors and as a reenactor himself he’s become skilled at prop fabrication, both as a hobby and as a business. He explained, "My bread and butter is prop and costume design, but my clients are usually collectors." That’s included a lot of replicas for cosplayer: He used to do a lot of business with Gladiator fans, but more recently it’s been Game of Thrones – and, of course, Star Wars is always a solid seller. That was, until March. "Covid killed my business,” Poitras said. “Nobody had $400 to spend on a Han Solo belt."

It wasn’t just the collectors’ market. He had three film prop gigs cancel in April, and a major order dropped in June. However, he’s been able to claim benefits, and is using this time to work out new distribution deals for his earlier documentaries, and finish post-production on two more that he hopes to release later this year. He’s also started prepping for the next round of shooting for his new project: a micro-budget sci-fi action drama, set in World War II. He’d started in January, but in March "I just got hyper-focused."

He’s already been location scouting with his producer, and his roommate is his secondary camera. "The filming we're doing this summer is all outside and only involves three actors, but there are some scenes where I don't think we're gong to be maintain being six feet apart – but we're already hanging out together, and we're not doing anything.” He compared his situation to that of a friend at central market, who only socializes outside of business hours with their colleagues. "We're working,” he said, “but we're working with a small amount of people."

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Pandemic Production, Matt Poitras, MP Filmcraft

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