Who doesn’t love a good prop? I certainly do. Props matter and yet they are often undervalued by filmmakers which is why the video above is a must see. One of the first things many actors ask for on a film set is more props. Most of the time they just want to have something to fiddle with (which can be annoying for the prop master and the filmmaker) but it’s also because they know that a good prop can often help them sell a scene or a script beat.
What this short film, Why Props Matter, written, edited, and directed by Rishi Kaneria shows in glorious detail is how often props are used to propel a story forward or define a character. Sometimes a prop even becomes a character.
A prop is anything an actor touches or uses on the set; for example: phones, guns, cutlery, etc. All food styling (food seen or eaten on screen) also falls into the prop category. The prop master, not the production designer, is responsible for all props on a project. However, the production designer, costume designer, and filmmaker oversee the prop department in look and feel. As with most things in film and television- it’s all a collaboration.
In summation the video leaves you with this:
“In the end, props are just objects but objects are things everyone can relate to. They are things we can hold ourselves and when we see characters doing the same it’s a mutual experience that draws us in.”
What is your favourite prop ever used in a film or television episode? Why did it stand out for you? Let me know in the comments below.
For the record- mine is the spinning top, Cobb’s totem, in Inception. This simple prop defined the idea of reality which is pretty wild when you think about it.
Rose Lagacé | @artdepartmental
A favorite of mine was in Repo Man. Otto indulges his parents cynically while eating from a tin can with a plain-wrap label marked FOOD MEAT FLAVOR. His mom says, “Put it on a plate, son. It’ll taste much better.”
“Put it on a plate, son. You’ll enjoy it more.”
Thank you. It’s good to be reminded.
I had no idea that props play such a large role in TV and movies! I did not know that there is a prop master who is responsible for all of the props, but that the production designer oversees the look and feel of the props. I agree that the collaboration effort is important to get a quality movie. Plus, props can help to define a character and propel a story forward, which is extremely important to the movie as a whole.
In the UK, the Production Designer, Set Decorator and Prop Buyer are responsible for the props. The Prop Master
arranges for them to be picked up and go on to the set.
This is my life. I would never change a thing.
[…] Departmental. 2022. Why Props Matter. [ONLINE] Available at: https://artdepartmental.com/blog/props-matter/. [Accessed 2 March […]