What Does A Prop Master Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Alyssa OmandacCareer, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Prop Masters

Prop Masters manage the props department on a film or television production. They find, create, or hire props based on the needs of the project.

No degree required

If you enjoy crafting things with your hands, you may want to consider a career as a Prop Master. The Prop Master is responsible for the props used in film, television, and theatre productions.

A prop is any type of moveable item found in a scene, such as a chair, a bottle of wine, or a weapon. The Prop Master determines what props are needed and then buys or makes them.

The Prop Master is part of the art department. They work closely with the Production Designer and Set Designer to ensure that the props match the tone or historical period of the production.

What they do

Prop Masters manage the props department on a film or television production. They find, create, or hire props based on the needs of the project.

Create a List of Props for Each Scene

One of the first tasks of a Prop Master is to determine the requirements of the script. During the pre-production process, the Prop Master works with the Production Designer and Art Director to break down the script and determine what props they need.

Prop Masters use the list as a starting point to research the design and function of various props, especially when working on historical productions. They may need to review photographs, books, and internet sources to find examples of historical items, such as clothing, furniture, or everyday objects.

After researching the items, the Prop Master compiles a complete list of props. The props are often divided into multiple categories based on the type of prop, the scene, and whether the props need to be purchased or recreated.

Work with Production Buyers to Buy or Rent Props

After developing a list of props, the Prop Master coordinates with the Production Buyer to obtain items. In many cases, the Production Buyer rents or hires props.

The Prop Master may also set a budget for the purchase of props. The Production Buyer then begins gathering the required items.

Throughout principal photography, the Prop Master is responsible for maintaining purchased or rented props and equipment. Every item is inventoried and labeled. The props are then returned to their original resources.

Design and Create Original Props

Along with purchased or rented items, the Prop Master often needs to create original props. This may include cups, furniture, weapons, armor, and other items that require a specific look and are not already available. The Prop Master may create props individually or work with other Artists and Craftsmen.

As with purchased props, the Prop Master needs to maintain original props throughout principal photography. After principal photography wraps, the Prop Master may oversee the sale or disposal of the original props.

Manage the Daily Schedule for the Props Department

As the department head, the Props Master is responsible for setting the daily schedule for the props department. Other members of this department may include a Weapons Master, Prop Makers, Animal Wranglers, Food Stylists, and various Craftsmen, depending on the size of the film or TV production.

Oversee the Continuity of Props Between Takes

The Set Decorator or members of the sets department work with the Prop Master to ensure that the props are in the correct position before filming begins for the day. They then need to ensure that the props stay in the same position or maintain a consistent look between takes.

For example, a bottle of wine that an Actor picks up from a table may need to be reset in the same spot before each new take. A prop that receives damage during a take may need to be replaced or repaired.

What is the job like


You Get to Figure Out How to Make Original Props

Figuring out how to create a prop that matches the needs of the script is often fun and rewarding.

You May Work on a Variety of Unique Sets

After years of working in the props department, you are likely to have experience with all types of sets, from historical productions to sci-fi or fantasy projects.

You Collaborate with Creative Individuals

Prop Masters rarely work alone, allowing you to brainstorm ideas and collaborate with other skilled artists.

You May Find Work Outside of the Film Industry

Between film or TV projects, Prop Masters often seek additional work, such as creating recreations of famous props, which can make this career a little more interesting.


Finding Work Is Not Always Easy

Prop Masters are typically freelancers, which requires them to continually seek new projects to maintain their income.

You Will Not Get Recognized for Your Work

Prop Masters rarely receive recognition, making this another underappreciated job in the film industry.

Where they work

Production Companies and Film Studios
Theatre Companies
Amusement Parks and Festivals
Event Planning Companies

Prop Masters often work for production companies and film studios to manage the props needed for movies or television shows. The Producer or Production Designer typically hires the Prop Master several weeks before production to begin researching the requirements of the script.

Theatre companies also hire Prop Masters to find, create, and maintain the props needed for stage performances. Other potential employers include Amusement Parks, Festivals, and Event Companies that require props for their displays or attractions.

How to become one

Step 1: Develop Your Artistic Skills in High School

Take Art and Theatre classes in high school to develop your artistic skills and learn more about prop-making.

Step 2: Earn an Associate’s Degree or Bachelor’s Degree

Most Prop Masters have a college degree. Degrees in Art, Design, or Engineering are common choices. Prop Masters should be trained in the fine arts and have experience with carpentry.

Step 3: Look for Entry-Level Work

The Prop Master often has many years of experience before accepting this role. You will likely need to start at the bottom and work your way up, beginning with jobs as Standby Props, Props Storeman, or Dressing Props.

Step 4: Become a Prop Master

After working in the field for many years, you may eventually land work as an Assistant Prop Master before finally achieving the role of Prop Master.

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Artist

People with this personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.

You can read more about these career personality types here.

Prop Masters require excellent organizational skills to keep track of the props department and ensure everything is accounted for. This job also requires an outgoing personality, as you need to work with a diverse group of people that may have strong opinions about artistic choices on a film set.

Prop Masters should also be able to remain calm under pressure. In some cases, you may need to rush to craft original props before principal photography begins. Creativity is another essential personality trait due to the variety of props that may be asked of you to design and produce.

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