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#1 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 01:16 AM

What is the worst example of gun safety you have ever seen?

What do you do on your sets to insure guns are handled safely?
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#2 Michael Nash

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 01:22 AM

There should be an anouncement made by the First AD, to the entire crew, as to what the nature of the weapon and/or effects are. It should be announced if the weapon is a prop, a "non-gun," a modified blank-firing weapon, or whatever. It should also be announced what effects will be done (caps, squibs, blanks, etc.). And of course then follow the safety procedures for setting off these effects.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 01:32 AM

I haven't seen any unsafe gun handling on a set myself.

There is always ONE person in charge of the gun, either the prop master or a gun handler. They hand the gun to the actor and take it back, or show it to the AD and then take it back. Otherwise it is not out of their possession. Whenever a gun is brought to a set, someone calls "HOT WEAPON ON SET!" (if loaded with anything, blanks usually -- few movie shoots use real bullets) or "COLD WEAPON ON SET!" (if unloaded) or "FAKE WEAPON ON SET!" (if a rubber gun or other fake.)

The AD is always the first person to check the gun brought to set. If it's supposed to be empty, they check everything, the clip, the barrel, the chamber, etc. or the gun handler demonstrates for the AD. Then the same thing happens for the actor who will be handling the gun. Anyone crew member who asks can also check the gun. Rehearsals are usually done with a fake gun, or if not, definitely an unloaded gun.

Again, the gun handler / prop master always takes back the gun.

There is also a safety meeting before the shot. Discussions cover whether the camera needs a lexan shield, if anyone needs eye googles, ear protection, etc. The shot is described for everyone. There will be a "dry rehearsal" and "NO FIRE IN THE SHOT" or something will be called out first.

It will be determined how many blanks to load and how strong they have to be (quarter, half, full-load, etc.). Before the shot, again there will be an announcement like "LIVE GUN FIRE -- THREE SHOTS!" Anyone not behind the protective shield of the camera should be nowhere near the gun fire or in the line of fire. Actors should get ear protection, and anyone else.

There are also safety issues like how close a gun firing a blank can be to another actor. If you really need a gun to fire very close to an actor, you probably should get an "un-gun" fake gun which fires an electric spark.

I haven't even listed all the basic gun safety issues.

I remember one of the questions on the union safety exam was "Who's responsibility is safety on a set?" The correct answer was "Everyone."
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#4 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 05:28 AM

I haven't seen any unsafe gun handling on a set myself.

There is always ONE person in charge of the gun, either the prop master or a gun handler. They hand the gun to the actor and take it back, or show it to the AD and then take it back. Otherwise it is not out of their possession. Whenever a gun is brought to a set, someone calls "HOT WEAPON ON SET!" (if loaded with anything, blanks usually -- few movie shoots use real bullets) or "COLD WEAPON ON SET!" (if unloaded) or "FAKE WEAPON ON SET!" (if a rubber gun or other fake.)

The AD is always the first person to check the gun brought to set. If it's supposed to be empty, they check everything, the clip, the barrel, the chamber, etc. or the gun handler demonstrates for the AD. Then the same thing happens for the actor who will be handling the gun. Anyone crew member who asks can also check the gun. Rehearsals are usually done with a fake gun, or if not, definitely an unloaded gun.

Again, the gun handler / prop master always takes back the gun.

There is also a safety meeting before the shot. Discussions cover whether the camera needs a lexan shield, if anyone needs eye googles, ear protection, etc. The shot is described for everyone. There will be a "dry rehearsal" and "NO FIRE IN THE SHOT" or something will be called out first.

It will be determined how many blanks to load and how strong they have to be (quarter, half, full-load, etc.). Before the shot, again there will be an announcement like "LIVE GUN FIRE -- THREE SHOTS!" Anyone not behind the protective shield of the camera should be nowhere near the gun fire or in the line of fire. Actors should get ear protection, and anyone else.

There are also safety issues like how close a gun firing a blank can be to another actor. If you really need a gun to fire very close to an actor, you probably should get an "un-gun" fake gun which fires an electric spark.

I haven't even listed all the basic gun safety issues.

I remember one of the questions on the union safety exam was "Who's responsibility is safety on a set?" The correct answer was "Everyone."



Thanks for the thorough and great answer, David.

I was introduced to gun safety issues back in film school in a directing class taught by Sidney Salkow. It was an eye opener to see how seriously Mr. Salkow took the issue of on set gun safety when one of the students brought in a prop gun for their directing scene.

I could see lower budgeted shoots or time challenged shoots mistakenly taking shortcuts, but the above rules would defintely apply to all productions. I once was called onto a super-8 shoot to run a "B" camera and found myself cowering behind my camera while the lead actor fired a shotgun blast in my direction, I could feel the wind pass overhead.

Another time I did scene to scene color correction on a low budget movie with a scene of an actor wildly shooting off a gun in the wilderness. The director supervised the edit session so I asked him what the actor was shooting and he told me, "real bullets, they were the cheapest and easiest thing available". I had been interested in possibly working with that director on a future low budget project but when he told me that I decided against it. What made it so unnerving to watch was the actor was supposed to either be drunk or deranged so part of what he was supposed to do was shoot the gun off wildly. Even though most of the shots were not in the direction of the camera, toward the end of the sequence, just to be different I guess, the actor fired a couple in the direction of the camera, but high.

Always bring a remote, you'll never know when being completely out of the way is preferable to staying by the camera, although the rental houses would probably disagree and say if it isn't safe for you to shoot it by the camera, then it isn't safe for their cameras either.
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#5 timHealy

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 08:46 AM

a friend was gaffing a music video in the early 90's when the talent was brandishing a real gun around for whatever they were shooting and told the AD if the gun did not go away the electricians were going. The electricans left until the gun was put away. No one was hurt.

Best

Tim

Edited by heel_e, 03 July 2006 - 08:49 AM.

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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 11:04 AM

Nowadays the really low-budget people are using fake guns and adding the muzzle flash in post digitally (assuming the post is in video) and it works pretty well. In fact, half the time on bigger-budget films you end up having to add the muzzle flash in post anyway because it doesn't always record onto film due to the shutter.

So often I've done several takes on a film camera just to get three muzzle flashes in a row with a gun firing blanks and have the shutter be open at the right time for all three (too often, you'll capture two out of three flashes or something). Full loads help increase the size and duration of the flash though.

It would be illegal and unethical to fire real bullets and not know where exactly they will land.
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#7 Patrick Neary

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 11:23 AM

Nowadays the really low-budget people are using fake guns and adding the muzzle flash in post digitally (assuming the post is in video) and it works pretty well.


yeah, but never underestimate the stupidity of low budget producers. CNN just had a story of some low-budgies shooting a hostage abduction scene in a campground at night, who were quickly shut down by the local swat team. The interview with the clueless "producer" was priceless. I dunno if they were using real guns in their production, but they sure ended up with a lot of them on-set, all pointed at them.
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#8 Laurence Avenet

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 11:35 AM

Once on set, after the gun was checked and loaded with blanks and everyone had earplugs, we had plexiglass to protect the lens/camera and myself from blank debris flying. But another time, the actor shot too close to the line of the camera (must have been from the power of the shot), and the blank went through, pierced a hole in the plexiglass, and luckily just grazed my cheek (a slight scrape, no blood). Anyway, just to say that blanks are very powerful and dangerous.

Laurence Avenet-Bradley
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#9 K Borowski

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 11:48 AM

yeah, but never underestimate the stupidity of low budget producers. CNN just had a story of some low-budgies shooting a hostage abduction scene in a campground at night, who were quickly shut down by the local swat team. The interview with the clueless "producer" was priceless. I dunno if they were using real guns in their production, but they sure ended up with a lot of them on-set, all pointed at them.


Haha, I'd pay $100 to see THAT particular outtake; "FREEZE! DROP YOUR ARMS OR WE WILL OPEN FIRE!"

~Karl
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#10 Richard Boddington

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 12:55 PM

There was an incredible documentary produced that outlined in detail what wrong in the case of Brandon Lee being shot on set, and killed. So many things went wrong it really was bizarre.

Essentially a real bullet was lodged in the barrel of a gun, and then a blank cartridge was placed in the same gun. Blanks produce enough energy to do serious damage and when the gun was fired the blank produced enough fire power to propel the stuck bullet in the barrel of the gun at Lee and killed him.

Here's some info on it:

http://www.snopes.co...rs/brandlee.htm

I shot a scene once where a hit man blasts away at a guy in a small room. When the shot was over the room was thick with "fog". I said to the gun master, "wow that's a lot of smoke." He said no that is dust shaken loose from the ceiling and falling down. The blanks produced that much of a concussion wave.

R,
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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 01:04 PM

Essentially a real bullet was lodged in the barrel of a gun


That's why you're supposed to also look down the barrel of the gun after checking the chamber and clip to see that they are empty. The incident was also covered in a book on the making of "The Crow". Again, this is the reason for putting one (competent licenced) person in charge of the firearm rather than passing it around from department to department.
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#12 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 01:47 PM

I respect you folks immensely, and it's good to hear that you make great efforts to insure the "safe" use of guns on set.

However, I have a different take on this topic: I refuse to work on productions which involve props which are lethal weapons or even "dummy" weapons.

Now, granted, I haven't had too many opportunities to refuse such work, and I don't expect this to change given my background and career "direction". And I'm also not advocating someone else should follow my lead in this regard. I'm just putting this out there.

It's only my opinion, but there is far too much use of lethal weapons in the real world. I don't want to participate in creating cultural symbols (videos, films, TV) which contain and thus typically "glorify" the use of weapons.

I understand many -- but not most -- films seek to not glorify violence or war or weapons, but instead advocate strongly against them, even if they include these props within the film. However, 99% of filmed violence is not contained within the relatively short list of great anti-war/anti-violence films.

I also understand these things are a matter of degree; afterall, a vehicle can be (and often is) a "lethal weapon", as can be any number of otherwise inanimate objects hurled during a filmed brawl and so forth.

But speaking for myself only, I've drawn the line at guns, knives, and such.

Again, I'm not knocking those of you who work on sets with prop weapons -- in fact, I admire your professional skill in safely handling such things.

My point is only that one way to safely "handle" such props is to politely just say no.

All the best,

- Peter DeCrescenzo
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#13 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 01:57 PM

I respect you folks immensely, and it's good to hear that you make great efforts to insure the "safe" use of guns on set.

However, I have a different take on this topic: I refuse to work on productions which involve props which are lethal weapons or even "dummy" weapons.

Now, granted, I haven't had too many opportunities to refuse such work, and I don't expect this to change given my background and career "direction". And I'm also not advocating someone else should follow my lead in this regard. I'm just putting this out there.

It's only my opinion, but there is far too much use of lethal weapons in the real world. I don't want to participate in creating cultural symbols (videos, films, TV) which contain and thus typically "glorify" the use of weapons.

I understand many -- but not most -- films seek to not glorify violence or war or weapons, but instead advocate strongly against them, even if they include these props within the film. However, 99% of filmed violence is not contained within the relatively short list of great anti-war/anti-violence films.

I also understand these things are a matter of degree; afterall, a vehicle can be (and often is) a "lethal weapon", as can be any number of otherwise inanimate objects hurled during a filmed brawl and so forth.

But speaking for myself only, I've drawn the line at guns, knives, and such.

Again, I'm not knocking those of you who work on sets with prop weapons -- in fact, I admire your professional skill in safely handling such things.

My point is only that one way to safely "handle" such props is to politely just say no.

All the best,

- Peter DeCrescenzo



I saw a movie once where they created an intense amount of drama simply by the mere reveal of a gun, th gun was never even fired.

I think it's wrong to embellish a gun sound because then when a person actually hears a gun shot for the first time in a real life situation, they may not think it's a real gun because the sound is less robust then what one hears in a movie.
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#14 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 02:15 PM

I think it's wrong to embellish a gun sound because then when a person actually hears a gun shot for the first time in a real life situation, they may not think it's a real gun because the sound is less robust then what one hears in a movie.


I don't know about that.... I've just done a shoot with several scenes at a firing range. The actors were firing .38, .357 and 9mm rounds and it was deafening! Granted, we were in a confined space, but even with ear plugs it was uncomfortable.
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#15 Richard Boddington

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 03:21 PM

Well I guess whether or not guns should be seen on screen takes the discussion in a whole new direction.

Pretty tough to make any thing war related and not use guns. And war is a subject that filmmakers should not shy away from. Shindlers List for instance had to be made, and there's no way you can make a Holocaust movie without using guns.

Like I said this is a whole new direction we could debate this one for years. Sex and foul language could also be added to the list of, "should we film it?" There are plenty of people that object to those two areas as well.

One thing is for sure, movies that contain lots of guns, swearing, and sex, tend to make money for the producers. So what does that say about our society?

R,
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#16 Michael Nash

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 03:41 PM

Once on set, after the gun was checked and loaded with blanks and everyone had earplugs, we had plexiglass to protect the lens/camera and myself from blank debris flying. But another time, the actor shot too close to the line of the camera (must have been from the power of the shot), and the blank went through, pierced a hole in the plexiglass, and luckily just grazed my cheek (a slight scrape, no blood). Anyway, just to say that blanks are very powerful and dangerous.

Laurence Avenet-Bradley


DO NOT USE PLEXIGLASS!!! Plexiglass (acrylic) is NOT lexan, and will shatter. Lexan is a very durable material.

I was on a low-budget horror film where the lead actor had to fire a shotgun (with blanks) just off camera at close range. Somebody in production had screwed up and ordered plexiglass instead of lexan for the shield next to the camera. The shotgun wadding blew golf-ball sized holes through the plexiglass and right at the First AC. He prompltly walked off set, extremely shaken (and returned later, although no one could have blamed him if he left the show).

I think it's wrong to embellish a gun sound because then when a person actually hears a gun shot for the first time in a real life situation, they may not think it's a real gun because the sound is less robust then what one hears in a movie.


"Real" gun sounds can vary wildly from the minor "pop" of a firecracker up to an ear-dulling "bang," depending on the size of the charge and the environment, distance, etc. where you hear it. I've fired everything from .22 up through .50, and even a small cannon, and you can actually tell the unique sound of different weapons and calibers after awhile.
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#17 Tim Tyler

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 04:19 PM

Sex and foul language could also be added to the list of...


Sex and foul language are not lethal.

I've had constructive arguments on some shoots with directors who try to glamourize cigarette smoking though.
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#18 Dan Goulder

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 04:33 PM

Gun Rule #1: When on the set, always point the gun at somebody you don't like, just in case there's an accident.

Ironically, much of the unsafe gun use seen in public is inspired by simulated gun use in the movies. Here's to Dogme 95, even though they've recently broken their own rules.
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#19 Richard Boddington

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 05:30 PM

"Sex and foul language are not lethal"

Ever hear of AIDS? Sex can be lethal.

R,
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#20 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 03 July 2006 - 05:50 PM

"Real" gun sounds can vary wildly from the minor "pop" of a firecracker up to an ear-dulling "bang," depending on the size of the charge and the environment, distance, etc. where you hear it. I've fired everything from .22 up through .50, and even a small cannon, and you can actually tell the unique sound of different weapons and calibers after awhile.


I recall hearing on the news how people have been caught in gun battles on the streets and the gunshots sounded like distant firecrackers, sort of like a like popping sound.

I don't ever recall hearing a gunshot depicted that way in the movies, and that's a bad thing because we equate loud gunshot sounds with danger when in fact a light popping sound might be just as dangerous.
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