What does a prop master do?
A prop, or property, is any moveable item that can be seen on a film. It could be a hat, gun, cushion, wine glass, lightsaber, carpet, kitchen unit, tree or aircraft. Prop masters run the property department which makes, stores and transports the props as well as preps the props for each day’s shoot.
Prop masters usually start work a few weeks before shooting begins. They work with production designers, set decorators and art directors to work out what props are needed. They do research and then draw up properties lists, deciding which are to be hired and which are to be made. They create a ‘set and strike’ schedule to share with location and construction departments
Where props are to be made, prop masters recruit the carpenters, artists and prop makers and manage the schedule for production. Where they are hired, they work with the production buyers to source them.
When shooting is finished, they return of all hired props and organise the sale or safe disposal of everything else.
What’s a prop master good at?
- Understanding film: pick up the director’s vision, break a script down for props requirements take account of the need for continuity
- Historical knowledge: research different eras, dress a set authentically
- Craftsmanship: work with a wide variety of materials, craft and repair items
- Moving items: handle large, heavy but fragile items
- Communication: work closely with the production designer and other departments, share the vision with the props team
- Organisation: manage staff, budgets, complex schedules, transport and storage