Making a movie is no easy feat. It’s one of the world’s most beloved juggling acts, with big results that can truly blow audiences away.
Props for movies are one of the most subtle ingredients in the cocktail. Not only do they need to fool the audience into thinking they’re real, they need to be crafted in a way that doesn’t step on any legal toes. Should you be in need of some fake money for a high-speed chase scene, you’ll want to keep reading. Media money props are a very common resource for many films, shows, and even commercials, designed with the express purpose of making everyone happy. We all have to start somewhere, so get your start below.
Custom prop money is easy enough to get the hang of. Here’s what you should know.
Look at any movie and you’re seeing the collective hard work of thousands of pairs of hands. You have the make-up used to make actors look more youthful, the hair designers working tirelessly to keep every strand of hair in place. Costume designers not only need to create iconic outfits, but outfits that can hold up to the stress of constant movement and tampering. Mix that in with sound designers, dialogue coaches, composers, stunt doubles, and post-photography production and it’s a wonder the final creation can be made at all! Keeping the details straight is key and something you’ll get better with in time.
It might seem simple enough to use a believable Monopoly money knock-off in your production, but this is far from the case. You want the audience to be swayed by your film…but you also don’t want to make your money too realistic. This delicate balance has been cultivated for many years, all the way back to when Hollywood was first made over 120 years ago. United States cinema is the largest film industry in terms of revenue and sees billions raked in every year both domestic and worldwide. If you want to have believable currency, you need to find currency solely designed for film.
Fake movie props have a tall order to achieve. Hollywood film money, at its core, needs to be believable enough to fool the eye and fake enough to keep the government happy. Prop houses have produced nearly 270 different types of fake money — right alongside 2,000 sub-types of movie money — between 1970 and 2000. According to the relatively recent Counterfeit Detection Act of 1992, reproduced bills have to either be less than 75% of a real bill or more than 150%. They also have to be one-sided.
That’s not all you need to know! Fake movie props have more rules than you can shake a stick at, all of which will keep you out of legal hot water. Prop movie money absolutely cannot be used to make any type of purchase — illegal use of prop money is able to be punished by fines of up to $250,000. You can even go to prison! While the United States Code’s Section 504 does permit the reproduction of black and white currency, it still needs to meet all prop money size requirements.
Personalized prop money has a few more rules for you to keep in mind. According to the Secret Service, real American currency paper is made out of 25% linen and 75% cotton, interlaced with red and blue security fibers that are randomly embedded. Fake movie props are printed on high quality paper that look authentic, but still won’t feel like real currency to the touch. If your film needs to burn money at any point, only prop money can be used — burning legitimate currency is a crime under 18 USC 333 (which also includes mutilation). Got that all memorized?
Making a film is tough work. With good fake movie props on your side, however…you can do anything.