EXPLAINER: Guns on film sets: how does it work? | New Mexico News


By LINDSEY BAHR, AP screenwriter

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died Thursday after Alec Baldwin fired a loaded gun handed to her by an assistant director who mistakenly believed it was safe to use on the set of “Rust” in New Mexico. Director Joel Souza was also shot and injured but has since been released from hospital. While much is still not known – police are investigating – the PA is examining the use of firearms in film and television productions and the security protocols in place.

WHAT IS A “CLEAN FIREARM”?

It’s a loose definition and could apply to anything from a rubber toy to a real gun that can fire a projectile. However, if it is used for shooting (even blank) it is considered a real pistol. Chris Burbank, a former Salt Lake City police chief who has consulted on several television productions, said firearms for simulations during police training or film productions are often made in such a way that they cannot be loaded until ‘with blanks.

WHAT ARE WHITES AND CAN THEY KILL?

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A blank is a type of firearm cartridge that contains gunpowder but no bullet. Still, it can seriously injure or kill someone nearby, according to the Actors’ Equity Association. The film’s gun safety coordinator Dave Brown wrote in a 2019 article for the American filmmaker that “White expels gunpowder and hot gases from the front of the cone-shaped barrel. . It’s harmless at longer range, but the explosion can seriously injure someone if it’s too close.

IN THIS CASE WERE BLANKS DRAWN?

The weapon was loaded with live ammunition, according to court records released on Friday. According to records, the gun was one of three that the gunsmith in the film had placed on a cart outside the wooden structure where a scene was being played. Deputy Warden Dave Halls grabbed the gun from the cart and brought it to Baldwin, unaware it was loaded with live ammunition, a detective wrote in the search warrant request.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR WEAPONS ON THE SET?

Usually, a weapons master or gunsmith oversees all weapons used in a production. It can mean anything from selecting the right items for a certain period in history, to maintaining weapons on the set and ensuring that they are used safely and correctly by the actors. and stuntmen. It’s a fairly new position in the history of film production, which only dates back to the 1980s. Before that, the prop master took care of everything. Recently, it has become more common to call in specialists.

WHAT ARE THE RULES FOR FIREARMS ON THE SET?

The weapon master must be on the board each time a weapon is used. The Actors’ Equity Association guidelines state that “Before each use, make sure the gun has been tested offstage, then ask to test it yourself. Watch the prop master check the cylinders and barrel to make sure no foreign objects or dummy bullets have lodged inside.

HOW TO BECOME A MASTER OF ARMS?

According to Backstage magazine, there is no formal path but it is common to have internships and apprenticeships or cascading training, in the military, police or security. Fencing masters are required to obey state and federal laws and hold the appropriate operating licenses.

WHY DID THE GUN POINT AT THE CINEMATOGRAPHER?

We don’t know what happened on the set of “Rust,” but it’s pretty common to have a gun pointed at the camera, and by extension the cinematographer, to get a certain angle.

“We’ve all seen the really famous shots in movies where you get that dramatic effect of a gun pointed at you, the audience, and of course it’s pointed at the camera,” said Steven Hall, a veteran director of second unit. and director of photography who has worked on films like “Fury” and “Thor: The Dark World”. “To minimize that, you would put a remote camera there, or at least if someone has to use the camera, I’m normally protected by safety glasses, a safety visor and often a PERSPEX screen which pretty much resists. asset. Obviously he wouldn’t resist a real gunshot, but he would certainly resist a blank.

GIVEN THE MANY REGULATIONS, HOW CAN SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPEN?

While the specific circumstances of the shooting of “Rust” are still unknown, professionals in the industry say that sometimes the crew and production are encouraged to “speed things up” for a number of reasons which can sometimes lead to protocols. safety “softeners”.

DOES IT MAKE MORE COMPLICATED WHEN IT’S A PERIOD PIECE?

“Rust” is set in the 1880s and according to Hall, when vintage guns are used, “you have to use real historical vintage guns and check the safety of those guns. I’ve known live ammunition fired with guns, sure, to make sure they work in such a way that when you put a blank it doesn’t explode or explode in the actor’s hands.

WHY DO THE PRODUCTIONS EVEN USE REAL RIFLE FIRE WHEN SPECIAL EFFECTS ARE AVAILABLE?

It is more and more common to add shots in post-production when working on visual effects. But visual effects can be expensive, and it can be easier and cheaper to use props. Additionally, Dormer says there may be benefits to using props and blanks, such as getting an authentic reaction from an actor.

HOW IS HOLLYWOOD RESPONDING?

There was a wave of dismay and anger at all levels of the industry that such a thing could have happened. Director James Gunn tweeted that his biggest fear was that “someone would be fatally injured on one of my sets.” Alex Winter tweeted that “The crew should never be in danger on set and when they are, there’s always a clearly definable reason.”

AP reporters Lizzie Knight and Adam Egan contributed from London and Lindsay Whitehurst from Salt Lake City.

Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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