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University of Missouri

Give the Man Props

Kris Peck makes the stuff of movies.

Kris Peck and Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise, left, and Kris Peck pose on the set of Knight and Day February 2010. Photo courtesy of Kris Peck.

Usually, folks trek across the country to see Tinseltown. Kris Peck, BA, BA ’88, saw the Hollywood lights all the way from southwest Missouri.

Peck is what the movie industry calls a property master. As such, he procures all the gadgets, guns and gear — essentially anything the actors touch that is not nailed to the set — during filmmaking.

While in junior high in Joplin, Mo., Peck attended a job fair and browsed a variety of career kiosks.

“I looked around and thought, NASA looks cool. Then I heard about all the math you have to take,” Peck says. “I asked my dad, ‘Where are the guys who make movies? That’s what I want to do.’ ”

When his father’s job moved the family to Newport Beach, Calif., after his senior year in high school, Peck stayed behind to attend Mizzou. With his folks in the Los Angeles area, his path was clear.

Peck earned dual degrees in interdisciplinary studies and theater, and he even shot a documentary on legendary MU theater Professor Donovan Rhynsburger.

After moving to LA, he landed a gig in 1989 as a production assistant for the HBO comedy series Not Necessarily the News. Peck tried his hand at different jobs in music videos, commercials and TV movies of the week.

“The success rate for aspiring directors is very low,” says Peck, whose first prop-related job was in the 1994 Paramount film Pontiac Moon. “I made a commitment at that point to pursue props as a career.”

Peck’s credits now include the Oscar-winning Walk the Line, mega-blockbuster The Dark Knight and Disney’s George Clooney film to be released in 2015, Tomorrowland. Peck has handled everything from Johnny Cash’s guitar to Batman’s grappling hook.

“Most people stumble into this industry,” Peck says.  “But this is something I knew I wanted to do at a very young age.”