Since relocating to Burbank last year, I’ve made it my business to take advantage of it by visiting as many of the businesses and people that make this place truly unique. One such business that came up was Dapper Cadaver. Dapper Cadaver is a death-related prop house and prop fabrication shop located on the edge of the Burbank Airport.
Typically, studios of this caliber are only open to prop masters, set decorators and art directors by appointment only. However, Dapper Cadaver is different in that it is open to the public daily, and they welcome customers of all needs and backgrounds. If you haven’t heard of Dapper Cadaver or it’s owner, BJ Winslow, you have no doubt scene some of their wares on television. They service many popular shows, such as Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Dexter, and Law & Order to name a few, as well as a number of movies, including the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise. If you see a dead body, bone, or blood on screen, there’s a very good chance it’s one of Dapper Cadaver’s.
There are a couple of keys to Dapper Cadaver’s success, one of them being Winslow’s commitment to extreme realisim. As he points out in the video above, their life cast skeletons make sure that each one is unique, and not a generic skeleton from Party City. All it takes is a quick glance at some of their skulls to see each one’s unique structure, and you can see his commitment to authenticity. This extends to every piece at Dapper Cadaver, as even their bodies are life cast, giving them an eerily “life like” quality.
Diversity is another big part of Dapper Cadaver’s continued success, something that is yet another deliberate decision on Winslow’s part. Not only do they handle TV and movie props, but they also appeal to the Halloween party market, and have done Halloween parties for the likes of the Playboy Mansion and the White House. In addition, Dapper Cadaver became a government contractor during the writer’s strike, a time when production came to a crawl in Los Angeles and cut into his business severely. So now, in addition to Halloween props and TV/film props, Dapper Cadaver provides bodies for search and rescue training. Add in his willingness to sell to anyone, from film studios to John Doe looking to plan a killer party for his family, and Winslow has set up Dapper Cadaver for success in multiple ways.
BJ himself has worked in the industry for many years, and has plenty of stories about the many productions he’s worked on. He shares some of these in the video, such as how he had to learn to make meth to work on the pilot for ‘Breaking Bad’, how ‘Game of Thrones’ handles their many, many severed heads, and his blood work on the promo images for ‘Dexter’ (picture above). Be sure to check out the video above for these stories and much more on working in props in Hollywood.
This project was shot using the Blackmagic Cinema Camera EF and Zeiss Distagon T* 2/35 and the Zeiss Planar T* 1,4/50. Look for our Dapper Cadaver BTS post coming soon.
Dapper Cadaver is located at 7572 San Fernando Rd in Los Angeles, (just near the Burbank Airport you can reach them at (818) 771-0818.
For more information about about Dapper Cadaver, go to their website at DapperCadaver.com