Prop Talk

On this episode of Prop Talk, we sit down with Property Masters Don and Chris to discuss their most memorable set stories with props and what their biggest inspiration is in working in the film industry.

Why Props Matter
Elevating Our Work,
Empowering Our Craft

The Property Masters Guild elevates each member through shared knowledge and experience so they can perform their job to the highest professional standard.

Meet the Property Master
Meet Property Masters

Being a Property Master is more than a job. It’s a creative profession, protected by a union and included in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Meet some of the men and women who work to bring stories to life on screen.

In this video, veteran Property Master J.P. Jones discusses what makes his work for HBO's Lovecraft Country creative, challenging and impactful.

Meet Leadership
Guild Leadership

Being a Property Master is more than a job. It’s a creative profession, protected by a union and included in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Meet some of the men and women who work to bring stories to life on screen.

previous arrowprevious arrow
next arrownext arrow

PMG Movie Night

The Official PMG Podcast!

New episodes bi-weekly.
Click below to start listening!

James Burrows

“The Property Master cuts through the red tape to make the production run smoother. I am happy to support The Property Masters Guild on their journey.”

— James Burrows, Director

Regina King

“Props are an invaluable part of the storytelling process. As an actor they are an extension of your character. The right prop can help the audience better understand who the character is or further explain the moment without prose. A character eating on fine china versus a paper plate tells you a lot about who they are."

— Regina King, Actress, Director, Producer

Deniese Davis

“Property Masters are the unsung heroes of production because of the amount of detail they put into their craft that speaks to the authenticity of any character and scene. That said, it's a very special part of the filmmaking process that we take seriously on all of our projects.“

— Deniese Davis, Producer

Michael C Hall

"When Dexter wrapped, I thanked our Property Master, Josh Meltzer, for “keeping my hands full” during production. And I meant it. A Prop Master is an actor’s dance partner. Props themselves are the Property Master’s proxy in the dance. A well-chosen, well-executed, and well-functioning prop provides an actor with a tangible and fundamental connection to the actual world. Props facilitate an actor’s connection to physical action, to “doing,” hopefully allowing the actor’s “being” to shine through.”

— Michael C. Hall, Actor

Danny Devito

"People say that when an actor puts on their costume it elevates their performance. I feel the same way about the props a Property Master brings to the game. The many choices they bring, every detailed item they contribute, gives comfort to the actors, aiding them in the discovery of the characters they play. This allows the director, the actors, costumers, set designers, to do their best work. The right prop in the hands of the right actor is a treasure to behold.”

— Danny DeVito

Billy Ray

"Property Masters are my partners. They're telling the story right alongside me. Every time I've ever Directed, I've been stunned - literally - by the thousands of smart and artful choices they make, things I hadn't thought of. It is their set as much as mine, and I would be lost without them."

— Billy Ray, Director, Writer

Milo Ventimiglia

"A skilled Property Master only adds to the excellence of a production and an actor's performance. In front of and behind the camera I've had the great fortune to work with the best."

— Milo Ventimiglia, Actor

Robert Ben Garant

"The Maltese Falcon. The Ark of the Covenant. The One Ring to Rule Them All. Writers imagined these cultural icons, heroes sought them, facing great peril -- but at the end of the day some Property Master had to build the damn things. Movies are filled with stuff that just doesn’t exist. James Bond gadgets, dwarfish table settings. S.H.E.I.L.D. stationery. Gauntlets powerful enough to hold the Infinity Stones, helicopters that fit into suitcases. But it takes a Property Master to see words in a script and make them into something you can see and hold. Something that looks real, but like nothing you’ve ever dreamed of. Something you’re going to need twenty identical copies of, because they’re going to be sunk on the Titanic for forty-seven takes, or get blown up or thrown off a cliff, or get dropped by some movie star on the first take. Oh, and Excalibur had better be fairly light, cause the guy playing King Arthur doesn’t like to work up a sweat. Props are what make movies look as real as everyday life -- but a million times more amazing. Everything you see in a movie that isn’t talking or driving or part of the set -- is a prop. Every gun, every bullet, every plate of food, every Mjölnir, hammer of Thor, or son of Odin. Somebody had to design it, and build it, or buy it, or dig it up in some warehouse in Burbank. “Doc” Brown didn’t make the Flux Capacitor; John Zemansky did. Buckaroo Banzai didn’t construct the Oscillation Over-thruster; that was Erik Nelson. Taking words off a page and transforming them into Wilson the co-star of Castaway, or Inigo Montoya’s sword, or the Millennium Falcon -- that’s a Property Master’s job. That’s a Property Master’s craft. Thank you, Property Masters of the world. All we writers had to do was write: “Vince Vega opens the briefcase -- it glows mysteriously.” You’re the ones who had to figure that shit out. "

— Robert Ben Garant, Writer

Kerri Kenney Silver

"The relationship between an actor and the Property Master is an important one. Essentially, everything we hold, eat, shoot, use, fire, and otherwise engage with on camera is provided by the props department and each and every item is carefully curated to help tell the story. As an actress, the hair department does not need to know if I am right or left handed. The Cinematographer does not have to worry if I may have a shellfish allergy. For the Prop Master, every aspect of the character, the world they are living in, the story that is being told and actor themselves is taken into consideration. It’s an all-encompassing job that requires intimate collaboration with every other department on set. For actors, having a great relationship with the Property Master is invaluable. "

— Kerri Kenney Silver, Actress

Nelson Coates

"Whether dreaming up and fabricating a weapon from the future, or the contents of a 1930s briefcase, or food and drink for a bombastic medieval bacchanal, the prop master is responsible for the fine tuning of performances by creating and collecting the wide range of character details encompassed by everything an actor touches on screen. Through the process of research, development, fabrication, and very specific narrative choices, prop masters work with actors, directors, and production designers to shape the finishing visual touches to storylines and characterizations. Property Masters also serve as the last " line of defense" in helping maintain the look and style on set in front of camera during the process of production. "

— Nelson Coates, Production Designer

Miguel Sandoval

"A good Property Master is akin to a good costume designer. They are collaborators with the Actor on creating the character. As time goes on, the collaboration can become more fruitful. The needs, likes and dislikes of personal props become intuitive and creative. Such is the terrific collaboration I have had over many years on a number of series. "

— Miguel Sandoval, Actor and Director

Dan Gilroy

"It's the only job on the set that includes 'master' in the title, which should tell you something. Property Masters are in many ways magicians, required to produce almost any item you can think of on a moment's notice -- and give you a choice while they're at it. They're researchers and manufacturers and experts in almost every discipline and direction that today's stories take us. The property department, led by the Property Master, brings the world around the actors to life, providing crucial reality for stars to create their characters. For this reason, they are some of the first people to sit in on meetings between directors and cast. One overlooked part of the job is the critical part they play in keeping sets safe. With the increasing demands of action pictures and rising risk of danger, property masters can mean the difference between getting the shot and not going home. In short, property masters are a critical component to any production and highly valued for their unique skills and patience dealing with the daily demands of bringing stories to the screen. "

— Dan Gilroy, Director

Marcia Gay Harden

"They call me prop-tart for a reason. This moniker was given to me by one of my favorite prop masters, Chris Call. He understood why my character in Spitfire Grill needed a chocolate milkshake with a straw. Or garnish on the hamburger. Or a pencil rather than a pen. Little details make a character, and a good props department can help you illuminate character traits and details that play into not only your own interpretation of character, but your audiences subconscious understanding as well. A person is always doing something, with something. I love working with props! Give me something to do! A prop master can take “generic” to “individual” with a small detail on your backpack or purse, a specific color wallet, an enameled cane, or a type of glasses. In film or on the stage, random is not interesting. Specific and thought-out props are one of many elements that lead to excellence. I will ALWAYS be proud to be a prop tart! "

— Marcia Gay Harden, Actress

Renee Russo

"When starting a film, the first two people I make it a point to meet are the DP and the Prop Master. The first is obvious, but many don't realize that the Property Master is an actor's go-to person from the start of a picture to the finish. Property Masters are present at the earliest stages of a character's creation, providing endless variations of everything from sunglasses to cell phones. This process of discovery can take days. Each piece they provide is invaluable in helping an actor not only craft the reality of their part but provide ideas on performance. I recently did an early morning scene which required my character to eat breakfast while delivering lines. Master shots, mediums, close-ups -- I was eating through all of them. In this instance I was saved because Property Master extraordinaire Guillaume Delouche not only provided the best butter and sour dough toast I’d ever tasted, but he also crafted the melon into little balls which wound up dictating (in the best way) how I navigated a section of the scene. I could tell endless anecdotes of collaborating with Property Masters on films, but I can sum up my feelings by saying they should change the job description to – Property Master- "What The Hell Would We Do Without You?” -- because that's what a difference a Property Master makes!"

— Renee Russo, Actress

JJ Abrams

"In cinema, the curation of props is as critical as the casting of actors. While often overlooked, the art of the Property Master is as important as any other role in the collaborative medium. Imagine your favorite films, but randomly swap out all objects those characters interact with. It would be like recasting the movie. Props are the result of incredible talent, countless hours, and teams of artists working to make them seem — like a great performance — inevitable."

— JJ Abrams, Director

previous arrow
next arrow

Showcasing Our Talents

The right prop can be an extension of a character — or even its own character. It sets a scene and has the ability to become as memorable as any dialogue. The ingenuity of a Property Master can transport the audience straight into the heart of a story.

The Industry’s Best Props

Many props can be as iconic as characters and catchphrases, building the narrative without saying a word. Here are some of the industry's most memorable props and the talented Property Masters who created them.

Mean Girls

Property Master:
Vic Rigler


Property Master:
Jack E. Ackerman

Citizen Kane

Property Master:
Charles Sayers


Property Masters:
Joshua Meltzer, Pola Schreiber and Jennifer Gerbino 

Scroll to Top