To Revenue Canada he is Craig Grant, but to millions of Murdochians he is known as Prop Monkey, the not-so-mad genius behind all those wonderful toys on Murdoch Mysteries.
You’ve heard of MM, right? I believe I may have mentioned it on this blog once or twice…
No, I wasn’t just struck by lightning, thank you very much.
But back to business: Prop Monkey is one of those rare creative types who has no interest in fame (hence his professional alias as opposed to his given name) or fortune (working for the CBC). No, he only cares about doing good work with Murdoch’s Props and Art Department. In fact, he prefers to let the work they do collectively speak for him, so you won’t find much of a social media footprint that leads to Craig Grant but you’ll find plenty of clips and images attributed to Prop Monkey. As a bellman/blogger/writer/hack who prefers to be known as The Hook rather than Robert Hookey, I can relate.
This was the last time Monkey talked back to MM showrunner Peter Mitchell…
You can get Monkey’s professional background by clicking here. The prop master with the simian moniker has worked on some pretty impressive productions like Between and a little show with a small following called Orphan Black. On a personal note, I was impressed to learn Monkey was the Property Master on the feature film, Chloe – and not just because it featured some scintillating scenes involving Amanda Seyfried and Julianne Moore.
Though those scenes certainly didn’t hurt the film at all, truth be told. Great, thinking of Chloe got my glasses fogged up again…
Where were we? Oh yeah, Prop Monkey’s awesomeness. I think this is a good time to share a little pic from the Murdoch Mysteries set that today’s guest was generous enough to share. Look closely at this photo, Murdochians, as there will be a quiz afterwards.
Notice anything interest beyond the obvious, friends?
Not only is that bike (I’m guessing it’s referred to as the “Bikeizer”) super cool, one can see Det. Watts himself, Daniel Maslany, in the background. Incidentally, I love the bar’s name. The Tipsy Ferret? Genius!
The fact is, much of Murdoch Mysteries’ appeal stems from the title character’s brilliant, far-ahead-of-its-time mind and the incredible devices that reside within. Bringing those devices to life is no small feat and so I consider Prop Monkey to be one of the most brilliant people on the planet.
FUN FACT: He has appeared in at least one episode in every season of MM.
(I’d kill to be on a single episode, never mind every single one.)
I think this is a good time to let the man/monkey himself take over. Take it away, Prop Monkey! To begin – and for a change of pace – here is a tidbit of info about Monkey from Monkey:
“I have been doing props for roughly 25 years everything from TV, commercial and movies. As a kid ( and adult) I loved building models and taking things apart to see how they worked.
I have always been into photography and at ten had a darkroom. Today I had a large collection of cameras, several hundred movie cameras , a hundred or so still cameras as well as a huge amount of tripods, projectors and anything else related. These range from the 1870’s to modern day, from 8mm to 35mm.”
Cool, right? Personally, I’m not surprised; geniuses – mad or otherwise – are always collectors. And now, on with the 5×5 madness!
ONE) Who inspires you to up your “creating game”? Contemporaries? Family?
On Murdoch the desire, and shall I say need, to “up my creating game” comes from both the writers and the fans.
Our writers deliver such great concepts (and in their minds) wholly-formed ideas, that I always feel that my creations must live up to that,or be so odd and off kilter that the audience won’t question what they are actually seeing.
Our fans have come to expect a level of cool and realism ( which I hope I am providing). Knowing that we have events and interactions with the fans every year and that brings people up close and personal with the props, I try to make them that much better and full, they aren’t just items for one shot but possibly pieces to look at for years to come.
(Told you this guy/simian was cool.)
Craig offsets his income by operating a rickshaw service – Murdoch Mysteries style…
TWO) If you could be any of your creations, which would you choose?
If I could choose to be any of my creations, I have two and a half that I would choose.
1. The Weaponized Capacitor. This is one of my favorite props I have built over the 10 seasons. It (IMHO) has a great look and feel, and it serves a definite purpose. It has elements of Tesla and Steampunk, yet feels like it could be very real.
2. The Pendrick Bullit. I like speed and to be the Bullit and be a futuristic car, racing past all of Fords noisy gas fueled beasts would be awesome. Gliding around with speed and style.
And this was accomplished on a Canadian TV show budget, kids…
2.5 This is a bit of a cheat as it is only half a prop and majority wardrobe, but I would love to be/ have the Pendrick Flying suit and be able to soar through the sky like a flying squirrel. ( Too chicken in real life to try a wing suit.)
And only ten interns perished testing this thing… A new CBC record!
THREE) As a behind-the-scenes genius, fans don’t really know much about the Man behind the Monkey. (Yes, that sound a bit weird. Just go with it. People expect that from me.) Please tell us something about you that may surprise us.
I am known as The Prop Monkey or just Monkey, because I wear a small finger puppet of a monkey on my Walkie Headset, The backstory behind this is that after my first child was born I was working on a show near a toy store and wandered in at lunch and saw the monkey and thought it was cute, so I bought it. Later that day I kept dropping it out of my pocket as I pulled stuff out, so I stuck in on the walkie in order to not drop or lose it.
Seventeen years later that Monkey is still on every show with me and has traveled all over Canada and parts beyond. Since then I have had people give me monkeys over the years and have a very strange collection of monkey related things.
(We’re going to stop at “very strange monkey related things.” I like to keep the mystery alive on this blog.)
FOUR) You must ridiculously-long hours raising Murdoch Mysteries fortunes. What is your go-to food between creating sessions?
Like every mad scientist, I have weird eating issues. (Just ask anyone who knows me.)
I am a meatetarian. I believe that pulling a vegetable off a vine or out of the ground is Vegicide and is just as wrong to me as eating bacon (which is one of the greatest foods in the world) is to others.
Although none of that has anything to do with the question, its just that sometimes I ramble.
(I knew there was a reason I loved Monkey so much; we’re kindred spirits. Yes, I know what I just said. Shut up.)
My go-to food if we are talking about actual nourishment, would be a meat pizza. But 99% of the time my go to food between and during creative sessions is COFFEE. I have an Espresso machine in the prop room along with a grinder and a cold brew slow drip coffee maker as well. There is always coffee brewing in my room.
It’s funny… because it’s true.
FIVE) As a bellman I am fascinated by all things travel related. What is your dream trip? Feel free to let your wonderfully-creative mind wander to any destination or time period.
After everything I have seen, researched and learned on Murdoch in the past 10 seasons, I think my dream trip would be to around this time period.
To be able to interact with Nikola Tesla, William Dickson (invented Edison’s Movie tech) and George Eastman. To travel to France in 1902 and see the filming of Georges Melies’ Voyage to the Moon.
FUN “FACT”: Georgina Reilly absconded with the “Vital Motion Plus” when she departed the MM set for good…
“Craig… is a… genius! I’m… never… getting up again!”
Well, as much as I love all my Murdoch guests, this has been one of my favorite 5x5s of all time. My thanks to Monkey for being here – and for being awesome. Thanks to all of you, of course, for being here and being equally cool.
See you in the lobby and on the CBC, kids…
This man is awesome, and aside from the obvious reasons, is why my husband I so love Murdoch Mysteries! Every time we watch, hubby looks at me and says, “Wouldn’t it have been great to be alive then?! They were teetering on the brink of so much! Such a fantastic time!” And it’s because Mr. Prop Monkey brings it alive with is creations. Wheeeeeee!
He truly is a genius, Rosemary.
Thanks for dropping by.
WHAT… pray tell was the “Vital Motion Plus”? and what season was that? (imagination is running a little wild) LOL!
It would be totally cool to find and make all the right “props” for the show.. ANY show! but especially a period show like MM. Did you know the person who does all the research to make sure everything that is done “properly” according to time period, part of the world, mannerisms, costumes etc is called a dramaturge? Isn’t that the coolest word EVER?? I learned that taking my theater classes and being on stage! 😉
“The Devil Wears Whalebone” Seson8, Episode 12 featured the invention in question – and a killer corset, Courtney.
This episode did indeed feature the killer corset, but the “Vital Motion Plus” chair was in 8-08 “High Voltage”, with Thomas Edison Sr. & Jr. I loved the interview!
So very interesting, Hook. Have to wonder how you snagged the Prop Monkey?
I just put out a trail of bananas leading to a cage, John.
And I asked.
I think the ask works. 😀
Craig and his wife and kids are among my family’s closest friends. He really is brilliant! (And a monkey!)
Oh, and he always has cool toys off the set too!
I believe it – on both fronts!
Pingback: Link: 5×5 With The Hook: Prop Monkey. | TV, eh?