A property (commonly shortened to prop) is an item used on screen or stage to help enhance performance. It can make a scene feel more authentic or help actors play their role more adequately.
Put simply: they’re a vital part of film, TV, and theatre.
Props are most commonly used in conveying the time and place the narrative is set. Props are often the only indicator of what decade, or cultural movement a story is set in.
For example, if a narrative is set in Ancient Rome, certain props will be used to show that. The prop maker will have to thoroughly research that time period to convey this to an audience.
It helps the story come alive, and helps viewers activate their imagination more readily.
Imagine a sci-fi film without a prop. It’d be a pretty drab affair.
As well as helping the audience understand the narrative, a prop can also help actors get a feel for their role. An actor will find getting into their Native American role; if they have they’re dressed similar and holding weapons and tools used in that time period.
Today, films rely more and more on shooting in front of a green screen. This can make it extremely hard for actors to get into their role. A prop can help them do that.
Film characters often become instantly recognisable through their props. Think Indiana Jones’s hat and bullwhip. These two props serve as an extension of this character's personality and help him become recognisable instantly.
This is often overlooked, but props can help ensure the safety of actors. A fake knife or gun can look just as intimidating as the real thing when done well, and don’t put actors in any immediate threat.
Looking for props in your next theatre production or film? Spur Creative has worked with some huge industry names creating lifelike props.