Using props to make your film more interesting

Best use of props in a film

It doesn’t matter if you are an indie film producer, an avid film consumer, or the Russo Brothers, props matter. Not only do fake movie props make a movie more interesting, but they also enhance the ability of a producer to draw the film watcher into a brand new, believable universe. However believable props may be, there are still some rules surrounding the creation of props for films, such as prop money. Prop money for tv shows or films must be designed in a very specific way. In order to be legal, the fake movie prop must meet certain size requirements, and of course it cannot be used to make any type of real purchase (punishable by fines of up to $250,000 and 20 years in state prison).

With all the regulation around fake movie props, or at least around currency solely designed for film, it is important to know what can be done to get realistic props in a film.

Genius Cheap Props (from big time movies)

Drawing inspiration from other great movies is one of the best ways to get the creative juices flowing for your own movie design props. Here are some of the greatest examples from classic movies that everyone knows and loves.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

This might be The Holy Grail of cheap and fake movie props. Did you know that a significant number of the castles in the distance of Monty Python and the Holy Grail are simply cardboard cutouts? Talk about cost effective! Kids frequently spend hours on end with card board box castles . . . well, these guys kept at it! Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed on a budget of about $360,000 and brought in over $130,000,000! Talk about an incredible feat! Fake movie props – cardboard could be the real holy grail.

Star Wars

It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of the newest Star Wars saga or not, most everyone can agree that the original trilogy was something incredible. Star Wars evokes a strong sense of magic, nostalgia, and wonder for the universe. However, did you know that many of the scenes with hundreds of Storm Troopers were simply painted? That’s right, no need to pay hundreds of extras to walk around in storm trooper suits (though let’s be honest . . . many of us would probably volunteer to do that for free!). Originally, when Star Wars had a scene with hundreds of Storm Troopers, rather than pay for a bunch of extras, the Storm Troopers were simply painted into a scene! Talk about fake movie props!

Mad Max

This last action is not one we can actually condone for fake movie props . . . however, it is very, very cost effective. For many of the scenes in Mad Max, the movie props were simply . . . borrowed. From people. Without their knowledge. Then afterwards returned when the shot was done. Borrowing can be super effective because it’s, well . . . it’s free. However, we would definitely recommend asking the person before borrowing something for your set!

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