We usually judge movies on the strength of performances or dialogue—but what about the everyday objects that fill each shot? According to Rishi Kaneria, props are an oft-overlooked, but essential, element of cinematic storytelling. We can often learn as much about a character from the way they look at their watch, take a bite of food, or wear their hat just-so as from a line of spoken dialogue. 

In his short video essay, “Why Props Matter,” Kaneria looks at the ways in which filmmakers use props to create a mood, tell a story, or reveal unspoken elements of a character’s personality. He shows how the objects that appear in movies can be subtle and unobtrusive, iconic and memorable (like Rosebud in Citizen Kane), or even become characters in their own right (like Wilson in Castaway).

“With all that’s involved in filmmaking—actors, sets, costumes, special effects—it’s easy to overlook the little guys: our trusty, unsung hero, the film prop,” Kaneria explains. His video essay is an insightful ode to the commonplace items that pop up in our favorite movies. Check it out above.

[h/t: The Verge]