Our vintage lighting props on the big screen (part 1)

Posted by: skinflint Prop Hire

Main image: Our XL Ceramics factory light on the set of Warner Brothers’ 'Pennyworth' Season 1 (2019). 

With our co-founder Sophie’s background in styling TV, films and commercials, prop hire of our vintage lights and set design has always been in our blood here at skinflint. Behind the scenes, we’ve been busy growing this side of the business and improving our vintage lighting prop hire services. So as well as working with interior designers and architects on prestigious hotels, chic restaurants and unique homes, we’ve also been collaborating with renowned art directors and set decorators around the world working on a variety of independent to big-budget films and TV shows. 

With an ever-rotating stock of original restored lights dating back to the 1920s-1970s, several notable productions have used our vintage lights in a variety of different sets. From industrial 1950s bulkheads which were seen on the set of hollywood blockbuster ‘Mission Impossible - Fall Out’ (2018) to elegant opaline teardrop pendants which were suspended in the British art-house drama ‘The Third Day’ (2020), it’s been exciting to see our authentic one-of-a-kind pieces enhancing the authenticity of so many productions and sets of varying styles and eras.  

So, in celebration of becoming official sponsors of the British Film Designers Guild (BFDG), and of the recent launch of our latest vintage lighting prop hire lookbook, we thought we’d take a brief break from salvaging and restoring our vintage lights in order to get a glimpse of our team’s hard work on the big screen. 

Here are just a few of our favourite and most notable productions in which we've spotted our lights:

Catch-22 (2019)

Above: Our 1950s Czech Army field pendant light suspended above the commander’s desk in Paramount’s TV series ‘Catch-22’, starring George Clooney. 

Based on the book of the same name by Joseph Heller, Paramount’s TV Series ‘Catch-22’ follows Yossarian - a bombardier in the U.S. Air Force desperately trying to be discharged to avoid dying in combat. Set during WWII, our collection of military lights traveled from our Cornish warehouse in the UK to the heart of Italy in Rome where the mini-series was shot. Set in a military camp, our Swedish military desk light and 1950s Czech Army field pendant can be seen in the commander’s operation tent. Shown in the above image, the Czech army field light’s original worn patina and bakelite upper gallery blends seamlessly with the wartime decor and offers a true genuineness to this scene.  

Above: One of our US Paratrooper Pendant lights hung in the medical tent of Paramount’s TV series ‘Catch 22’. 

Another scene and another of our vintage lights offering authentic accuracy to this military series. This time our US Paratrooper Pendant Light, seen in the above shot. Not only dating back to WWII, these pendants actually originated from the U.S.A and were originally used by the US Army. ‘Catch-22’ provides an accurate depiction of how these original pendants may have been used during the 1940s, thus helping us view the full story behind these vintage lights. 

Whitstable Pearl (2021) 

Above: Our 1950s Pottery Light suspended in the Police Station interrogation room of Acorn TV’s ‘Whitstable Pearl’. 

Set in the coastal town of Whitsable, the story follows Pearl, owner of a family-run restaurant, who pursues her life-long dream of becoming a private detective. This dark and gritty drama boasts a suspenseful atmosphere. Though set in the modern-day, our British industrial linear light helps set a suspenseful mood in the above shot - its imposing down lighting adding to the tenseness of the police interrogation, creating dramatic shadows and enclosing the characters to the centre of the screen. This particular fluorescent light dates back to the 1950s and has been restored to modern-day standards with environmentally-friendly LED technology, so not only is it a gripping statement piece for the set but also a functional and practical light.  

Above: Vintage RAF wall lights on the set of Warner Brothers’ ‘Pennyworth’ Season 1. 

‘Pennyworth’s story surrounds the past of former British SAS soldier Alfred Pennyworth, who many will recognize as Bruce Wayne’s (a.k.a Batman’s) renowned butler. Set in 1960s London, there is an abundance of different setting styles and aesthetics to cater for in this big-budget TV series. A selection of our industrial lighting was chosen for several scenes, including our British 1950s RAF wall lights which can be seen above in the Raven Society war room. Being the villain's headquarters, the wall lights create an ominous glow over the portraits of previous Raven Society leaders in this moody setting. Salvaged from an R.A.F base in Northwest Wales, it is fitting to see these converted landing lights on the walls of a war room. 

Above: Alfred and Victor standing in front of one of our XL Ceramics factory lights in Warner Brothers’ ‘Pennyworth’ Season 1.

Whilst Alfred is confronting Inspector Victor in the bunker scene, several of our oversized 1950s Polish factory lights can be seen suspended from the rafters. The brushed and lacquered steel of the lights complement the gritty and industrial decor whilst the open space of the bunker allows the sheer size of this convex glass lens pendant to come into its own. 

We feel extremely privileged to work with renowned art directors and set decorators and on such high-quality productions. It gives our lights a new lease of life whilst still being shown in a historical setting. Throughout 2021, more and more of our vintage lighting has been sent out for prop hire and with the recent release of Pennyworth Season 2, be sure to watch this space for more news on our salvaged and restored lighting on the big screen!

Looking for authentic historical prop lighting for your production? Please get in touch with our prop hire team at prophire@skinflintdesign.com or call us on 01326 565227.