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THE NEW WORLD

Set Decoration, Props and Armor
With the primary sets for both colonists and Natives constructed, it fell to set decorator Jim Erickson and his department to adorn them. 

"Pretty much everything has been made by hand,” he says. "For the Native cultures, we literally made each one with leathers, feathers, stone and wood. You can't buy these things off the shelf. For the English colony culture, we found a few pieces and rented a few others, but again, we made most of everything. Also, keep in mind that the English originally brought over just the basics to survive.”

Erickson said that his department made a special effort to go against the way Native culture has generally been portrayed in films.

"It's been a wonderful experience to try and resurrect the Native culture,” says Erickson. "We're consciously playing against the standard Hollywood version of how Natives are depicted in film, and in addition to researching the Powhatan culture, we have also looked at tribal artifacts from around the world. We started growing out of that, trying to create a feeling of tribal identity and culture.”

Erickson's set decoration department worked closely with property master Steve George and master armorer Vern Crofoot. 

"We combined the departments together into one big workshop,” says Erickson, referring to the large tent situated next door to the film's production office on the grounds of Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg. A literal smell of history emanated from the tent, earthy leather, freshly-woven basketry, the polished metal of the wheel lock pistols and swords. 

"Sometimes we had up to 25 people working there weaving mats, making Native war clubs, leather bags and belts, and later on, during the battle scenes, we had to set up a triage factory in the prop truck trying to repair everything that was busted apart,” says George. "But the biggest challenge on this movie is the fact that very few things exist from the time period depicted, so we pretty much had to manufacture all of the Native American and colonist props.” 

Erickson adds, "I felt it was important to try and recreate things that they've dug out of the fort site within the last five years, such as earthenware cooking pots, chamber pots, storage jars, watering cans, jugs, mugs and a lot of German stoneware. I've tried to create a range of wares that would have exemplified the types of things that would have been used everyday in the fort.”

The production also relied on other craftspersons throughout Virginia and the nation for specialty items, including John Smith's elaborate ebony and mahogany sundial compass inlaid with carved ivory and the large medallion to be worn by the Governor of Jamestown—with the seal of The Virginia Company on one side, and King James' coat of arms on the other.

Armorer Vern Crofoot assembled an arsenal of historically accurate weaponry for both the English and Natives, working closely with Erickson and George. But the main challenge faced by the armorer was a familiar one…nothing from the period exists any more. 

"For Civil War movies, the weapons are readily available,” says Crofoot. "There are many people out doing re-enactments and lots of those guns are made as replicas today. But The New World is set during a transitional period, with no major wars occurring at that time, and very few—if any—films are set in this era.”

Thus, Crofoot came up with an arsenal of archaic weaponry, including matchlock rifles, swords, daggers and pikes.

"There are a couple of guns in this movie that I don't believe have ever been seen onscreen before such as the Petronel, a very short carbine which is shot off the middle of your chest instead of putting it against your shoulder,” says Crofoot. "The weapons that were provided to the colonists at Jamestown were provided by the Crown of England, most o

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