Special Effects Props: Why Movie Props Matter

October 14, 2022 / Painted Rhino
Special Effects Props: Why Movie Props Matter

It’s hard to imagine a movie without props. Whether a simple stick or a multi-million dollar set piece, props are an essential part of filmmaking. They help bring a film to life, immersing audiences in the story and creating a sense of realism.

While some props are simply functional, others have a more emotional impact. A prop can be a powerful symbol or a reminder of a character’s history. It can be a source of levity or a key plot point. In short, props are an important tool for filmmakers, and they can make or break a scene. So why do props matter? Let’s take a closer look at the role of props in film.

Props Help Tell the Story

Props are more than just decoration; they play a vital role in telling the story. A well-chosen prop can help to establish the setting, reveal character information, and advance the plot. For example, in the movie'The Shawshank Redemption', props are used to great effect to establish the film’s setting and tone. The dreary prison setting is conveyed through props like iron bars and concrete walls.

And the props also convey the hopelessness of the characters’ situation, from the drab prison uniforms to the ratty blankets. In contrast, the prop department for'The Lord of the Rings', went to great lengths to create a sense of wonder and magic. They created thousands of unique props, from swords and shields to Elvish knives and Dwarven axes. These props helped to bring J.R.R. Tolkien’s world to life, making it feel real and believable for audiences.

Props Reveal Important Character Information

With the right prop, a filmmaker can convey a character’s profession, personality, or backstory. Consider for a moment the character of Indiana Jones. In the first film, we learn everything we need to know about him from his props. His whip and hat tell us he’s an adventurer. His revolver tells us he’s a man of action. And his satchel full of relics tells us he’s an expert in archaeology.

Similarly, the prop department for'Mad Men', went all out to ensure that the show’s props were period-accurate. They filled the office with vintage furniture, typewriters, and rotary phones. These props helped to establish the show’s 1960s setting and conveyed the characters’ wealth and status.

Props can also be used to foreshadow future events. In the movie'Titanic', for example, we see a character wearing a lifejacket early on in the film. This seemingly innocuous prop takes on new meaning when the ship begins to sink, and the characters struggle to stay afloat.

Props Advance the Plot

In some cases, props are essential to advancing the plot. For example, a key piece of evidence might be required to solve a mystery or catch a villain. In other cases, a prop might be used as a catalyst for conflict.

Need Film Props?

Props can also be used to foreshadow future events. In the moviefabricate props, backgrounds, displays, and special effects, for filmmakers, film production companies, theaters, and more. Contact us if you’re in the industry and want to learn more about what we do or have a project in mind.