In search of authenticity, movies often use real guns on set

On film sets, safety protocols for the use of firearms are well established and straightforward: weapons should be closely managed by a ...


On film sets, safety protocols for the use of firearms are well established and straightforward: weapons should be closely managed by a licensed gunsmith, cast members should be safety trained in advance firearms, weapons (even fake ones) should never be pointed directly at anyone. – and no live bullets, ever.

Productions regularly use real guns, even in the movie era where visual effects artists use computers to convincingly create disintegrating cities. They are loaded with blanks, which are casings without bullets.

People who don’t know anything about guns tend to think of blanks as kid’s hooded guns – a little pop and a little smoke. This is not the case. Whites can still be dangerous as they contain gunpowder, a cartridge, and paper batting or wax, which provide a realistic-looking flame and spark. (When people are injured by guns on film sets, it usually involves a burn to the hand, safety coordinators said.)

Why use real guns?

“The reason is simple,” David Brown, a cinema gun safety coordinator, wrote to American Cinematographer magazine in 2019. “We want the scene to be as real as possible.”

In particular, real firearms have a certain weight and recoil which is difficult to reproduce, especially when it comes to working with a close-up camera.

If a movie involves a shootout, security planning typically begins long before anyone meets on set, according to studio executives overseeing physical production. First, a licensed gunsmith is brought on board to analyze the scenario and, together with the director and prop master, decide which weapons are needed. Studios tend to work over and over again with the same gunsmiths; one such expert, John Fox, has credits in 190 films and 650 television episodes over 25 years.

The gunsmiths own the weapons. They are responsible for storing them on the shelf. Firearms are not supposed to leave their hands until the cameras are rolling; the actors return them as soon as we call “cut” or “wrap” and the cameras stop.

The gunsmiths also deal with blank ammunition.

A production will typically institute rules for maintaining a safe distance from the barrel of a blank loaded firearm, which is typically 20 feet, according to Larry Zanoff, a film gunsmith who worked on the set of ” Django Unchained “. He was not involved in “Rust”, the film shot on Thursday when Alec Baldwin fired a gun used as a prop, killing the director of photography and injuring the director.

As Mr. Brown wrote: “The safety distances vary greatly depending on the load and the type of firearm, which is why we test everything in advance. But I’m going to share a secret: normally I take the distance people need to get away with a shot, then triple it. “

Studios generally require that all cast members who will perform with firearms undergo training at a range in advance. There, they learn safety and receive general information on how firearms work. Independent productions, for reasons of cost and time, can manage safety demonstrations on set. Various unions operate safety hotlines where anyone on the set can report issues anonymously.

It is not known exactly what type of weapon was used in “Rust”, what it was loaded with, or what exactly was happening on the set when it was fired. It was also unclear what kind of training the cast members may have had.

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Newsrust - US Top News: In search of authenticity, movies often use real guns on set
In search of authenticity, movies often use real guns on set
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