Creating films used to be astronomically difficult and exclusive. Nowadays you have more access to tools than ever before.

You can film an entire movie on your iPhone, with high-quality video and beautiful filters to give your proverbial child that much more pop. You can craft custom prop money that looks like the real thing and fashion personalized movie props to decorate your fictional world. No matter your budget or your vision, there are enough options to bring your creation to life. There just comes the matter of making sure you stay within the boundaries of the law, as the last thing you need is to step on anyone’s toes on your way to stardom.

Need fake money stacks for your low-budget neo noir crime thriller? Curious how real currency compares to real fake money? Brush up on your movie props with the list below so you can get crafting!

The History Of Prop Houses

Seen a movie lately that brought you to tears or held your attention for a full hour and a half? Make sure you thank prop houses for that. The United States cinema industry (more colloquially known as Hollywood) is the oldest film industry in the world, originating over 120 years ago and remaining the largest film industry worldwide in terms of sheer revenue. Prop houses, particularly when it comes to real fake money, have produced 270 different types and 2,000 sub-types of movie money between the 1970’s and 2000.

Set And Prop Design Careers

Some people want to become actors, shaving away at suspension of disbelief with compelling performances. Others want to be special effects artists, lighting up the screen with a complex set of digital tools. In 2011 the U.S. Bureau Of Labor Statistics reported the average set and prop design earner made around $55,000 per year, with some specializing and others working on more broad conditions. You might find yourself considering props as a niche, crafting masks and creating all the little real ‘fake’ items that make a movie feel just that much more authentic.

The Legalities Of Fake Money

We all know a person isn’t supposed to create fake money…unless they want the law on their hands, that is! When it comes to a movie, though, using real money is also asking for trouble. That’s just asking to be stolen! In the mid 1800’s the Secret Service was established to go after money counterfeiters — at the time one-third of all American currency was fake. Compare this to today, where even authentic prop movie money won’t pass for the real deal. This is one area you’ll definitely want to get right.

Difference Between Real And Fake Money

Movie props hit that sweet spot of being close enough to cheat the eye, but not so close they get anybody in legal hot water. According to the Counterfeit Detection Act of 1992, reproduced bills must either be less than 75% of more than 150% the size of a real bill, as well as one-sided. The Title 18 of the United States Code also permits the reproduction of black and white currency, provided it still meets all prop money size requirements. Digital copies of prop money must also have a resolution of 72 dpi or less, which anyone familiar with digital art will know is a very low quality.

Crafting Personalized Prop Money Legally

Films that require using copious dollars must be done the right way. This is especially true if your film, at any point, requires burning money. Burning legitimate money is a crime under 18 USC 333, which prohibits burning money or mutilating currency in any way. This also includes tearing, eating, or staining. According to statements provided by the Secret Service, real American currency paper is around 25% linen and 75% cotton, interwoven with red and blue security fibers embedded throughout. If this sounds complicated, never fear…

…your movie is absolutely worth it. Make sure your movie props line up legally and success is sure to follow.

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