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It started with "My Christmas Soldier," a tale of German POWs in 1943 Georgia.

Mauriel Joslyn contacted me about providing US ration books for the production. Since Mauriel and I are both writers, we ended up emailing back and forth, trading answers and questions about rations, clothing, uniforms, and the like. She made a few revisions to the script for accuracy and I provided several ration books, both food and fuel, and the appropriate holders.

My wife and I both volunteered to be extras in the film, and our whirlwind tour through "Hollywood" was on! We traveled to the Atlanta area, stopping first for shooting at an original train depot in Duluth, Georgia. We spent four and a half days on set, working late, late hours, but had a wonderful time working with truly wonderful people!

 

My Christmas Soldier
Mrs Walker, played by Cheri Christian, contemplates her few remaining gas ration stamps; looks like she'll be waiting for her husband's delayed train instead of returning home.
(© Owen Smith)

 

My Christmas Soldier
That's "your's truly" in the grey fedora! (© Owen Smith)

A little while later, I was contacted by Lyle Booth, an artist for USA's "Royal Pains." Lyle was looking for reproductions of German documents for the program's mysterious and wealthy German aristocrat Boris (Campbell Scott), benefactor of the show's main character Dr. Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein). We sent an inch tall stack of birth certificates, marriage licenses, military awards, medical documents, and a number of legal documents and deeds spanning from 1802 to 2007 in near record time - three days.

Lyle wrote in an informal e-mail verifying that they had received the documents, and that he was "...bringing these down to props and watch their heads explode."

"Matt's work is simply excellent," Lyle later added. "Everything looked like the real thing and his professionalism shines in his obvious love of meticulous historical accuracy (including type faces, stamps, paper stock, document aging - even the spelling of names to reflect familial origins). His sunny demeanor and helpful attitude capped with his speed in production and delivery of the documents, all within budget, truly makes him an asset to hold on to."

The work appeared in two episodes, "Nobody's Perfect" (Episode 111) and "Wonderland" (Episode 112) which, together with Lyle's excellent work, really added to Dr. Lawson's work load!

 

Royal Pains
Dr. Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) ponders the mystery that is Boris (Campbell Scott). (©USA Network)

Royal Pains
Land grant from Friedrich Wilhelm III to Boris' great-great-grandfather. (©USA Network)

Royal Pains
Boris' grandfather's Iron Cross awarded during the Great War - the US document above that is Lyle's handiwork.
(©USA Network)

 

A short time later, Assistant Decorator Hamish Purdy of Lennox House Films contacted me from Vancouver, looking for World War I German paperwork. After several emails, I was hired to provide a number of World War I German forms and papers for the Warner Brother's movie "Sucker Punch." Again, I provided a stack of reproductions for the World War I bunker scene, in which Baby Doll (Emily Browning) attempts to steal the map from the German General.

 

Sucker Punch
Emily Browning (Baby Doll) amid a flutter of World War I German paperwork and money (© Warner Brothers).

 

Sucker Punch
Reproduction money and paperwork in the World War I German bunker (© Warner Brothers).

While I was working on the order for "Sucker Punch," Lyle Booth contacted me again, asking if I could create Russian paperwork, particularly late Soviet period/early Russian Federation. After a few emails, he put me in touch with Prop Master for F2B Films, Rob Smith. He wanted me to create medical and political dossiers for Fox's "Fringe," my wife's favorite show. The package of newspaper clips, dossiers, and Russian scientific notes aired in "Earthling" (Season 2, Episode 6).

 

Fringe Fringe
Fringe

Fringe

Images of the Top Secret cover sheet, the CIA translations, and the original Russian report on the mysterious
disappearance of Cosmonaut Aleks Vasilie. Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and her superior Phillip Broyles
(Lance Reddick) discuss the intriguing dossier. ( © Fox)

 

I am honored to have taken part in these productions and to have worked with such genuinely nice folks. To say the least, creating paperwork for Hollywood, even when it's not located in Hollywood, can be challenging work, but creatively rewarding and a lot of fun. Nothing beats sitting in a movie theater or in front of the TV and shouting "I did that!" even if people tend to stare.