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Old January 30th, 2017, 02:27 AM   #16
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Re: Fatal gun safety fail at a music video shoot

Hmm, good question. Forgive me but this can't really be a short answer.

I can only speak for myself, but I put less weight in certificates hanging on a person's wall, and more weight on people who sign certificates for a living and probably don't even have a "love-me" wall. In other words, I want people who teach others and have extensive experience with real firearms.

I can teach people the technical skills; I can't teach them to be nice people. The MOST important quality a person must possess is the ability to make people feel relaxed and confident the moment they walk onto set.

If they parade around set like they are still in Afghanistan; come across as Type A personalities; treat people aggressively; or constantly remind people how "dangerous" guns are, and "guns can kill," they just get people upset and put the whole set on edge.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, I want people who work with the quite confidence of a Christian with four aces.

I want people who can say to a director and DOP, "Of course I can get that shot for you." Experience means one rarely has to say no, simply because they know how to get the director what they want in a safe manner. Amateurs say, "no." Professionals say, "yes," and then find a way to just do it safely.

Experienced professionals know when to say no, and don't usually have to.

25 years ago on my very first day on a film set, I learned the most important lesson of my career. I don't work with guns; I work with people. It's a people business, and experienced professionals know how to collaborate with everyone to do it safely, and never get upset at anyone because they all have jobs to do.

On the other hand, experienced professionals will not be pushed where they don't want to go, and if they get pushed to the point that someone might get hurt, they just quietly pack up the guns and prepare to walk off set. A firearms safety coordinator MUST be prepared to sacrifice their job rather than see anyone hurt.

That is part of the "quiet confidence" I mentioned earlier. Every single person on that set must see the firearms coordinator as someone who ALWAYS has their back. Firearms specialists will never yell and scream because they don't have to, and they know that if they walk off the set, there will be 100 crew people right behind them.

(By the way, in 25 years, I have NEVER had to walk off set and probably never had to say "no" more than once or twice. It is always more like, "How about this way? Here's how we can do this.")

Who does NOT make a good weapons handler? Well, again based on 25 years doing what I love to do, I would have to say there are two types of people to avoid: those with a LOT of experience with only a few guns, and those who took some courses, have a firearms licence but have never shot a real gun before.

The former is the ex-police or ex-military who think they know everything because they spent 20 years on the SWAT team. They are the ones who can't work with people and would get upset when the 17-year-old PA tells you that you must get to set right away.

The latter is worse. Their only experience is with film firearms and they don't have a clue about how to hold it realistically, and - just as important - WHY it is held like that in real life.

So I guess the bottom line is that a person is qualified if they can work so quietly and confidently that everyone on set can relax and concentrate on their jobs.

THAT'S how we don't just save lives; we save time and money.

Last edited by Dave Brown; January 30th, 2017 at 03:46 AM.
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Old May 13th, 2017, 03:29 AM   #17
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Re: A reminder about safety on set

The industry is looking to overhaul safety guidelines.

On Thursday, industry representatives including Screen Producers Australia and the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance met to plan the safety review.

The MEAA's Michelle Rae said it was a "conducive meeting" where the industry unanimously decided the existing safety document needed a major update.

"Our hope is to make it a document that actually is usable and helpful," Ms Rae said.

"The (original) document was brought to life in 1983, and obviously health and safety across industries has changed greatly since 1983.

"This is an opportunity for us as an industry to come together to put in place safety systems and best practices for an industry that is really diverse."

Mr Rae said the plan is to produce a comprehensive national guideline and include a "user-friendly" summary document, that could work like a checklist for producers.
More at the full article.

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Old May 13th, 2017, 06:50 AM   #18
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Re: A reminder about safety on set

I spend much time preparing risk assessments as part of my job - all encompassing - from performers tripping or slipping, people working at height, children, disabled, and loads of other categories, and while some have the scope for reducing serious danger to something acceptable - even swords we use in fights - firearms, thank goodness, rarely cause us any grief in the UK.

As a total non-expert in firearms, my experience is limited to seeing the hole a blank round can produce up close. The entire point of a weapon like a gun is that it fires something, and the reason people use them in movies and on stage is because they look and sound like a real gun. They kill people like a real gun too!

All the safety systems in the world won't stop them firing at the wrong time or the wrong place.

Only recently details emerged of an old case where a school doing the musical Sweeny Todd used real cut-throat razors in the neck slashing scene, and cut through somebodies neck so the windpipe was visible - in a school, with kids. The razors were real, and whoever 'blunted' them botched it.

I have to ask what sort of pop video would even use guns? Impressionable young people seeing guns as an everyday part of social life? Maybe this is reality in some parts of the world, but why promote it?

If the idiots making the video get it wrong, there's not much hope for the audience.

It's about time America's lunatic gun system was stopped fro leaking into other societies who are poorly geared up for it.

What would a proper risk assessment have done with it? Initial danger worst case - death. After taking remedial action this risk is reduced to ..... still death!

I feel for the people involved, but surely if somebody had said "is this gun safe?" the answer would have been "no".

For once, the UK isn't at the front of the lunacy queue - I didn't realise Australia were as liberal as this either, I'd assumed, wrongly, that they were like us, and guns were not part of the culture.

Somebody will get crucified over this, and probably not the person who deserves to. Did somebody have the 'good idea' to use live guns on set, and somebody else had the good idea to not take action to stop accidents like this happening? Here, to load a pyrotechnic, it's standard practice to make sure whoever does it also has the firing key in their pocket, just in case. It's inconvenient sometimes. If some body uses a firearm on stage, it will usually be a dummy, and the bang coming from a controlled and secured blank firer in the wings, with a very large empty space around it - and I can tell you the people who fire that absolutely hate the damn things. Giving a stunt man a weapon might seem to be exactly what stunt men are for? I just wonder.
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Old May 13th, 2017, 09:48 AM   #19
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Re: A reminder about safety on set

A bit about my viewpoint, I am an NRA certified shotgun, metallic cartridge reloading and Range Safety Officer and I would never want to be in the position of a film/TV armorer, weapons expert on a set. I've worked on quite a few gun heavy sets, Homeland, Prison Break, Die Hard with a Vengeance amongst others and in 2017, the best solution is now rubber guns on set. This will sound unforgiving, but actors are insecure narcissists who play make believe for a living, not the most reliable subjects to run around with live firearms in the course of playing make believe. Directors and Producers, as has been proven countless times, are often more concerned about their vision and the almighty dollar than with the safety of crews and talent. Many people don't realize that often, the guns on set are real guns, simply firing blanks, they aren't always "blank guns". Blanks are simply real ammunition without a projectile. They still have a projectile of sorts though, it is often a piece of cardboard, plastic or other material that seals the round so that the smokeless powder inside the case doesn't simply run out of the case. The other thing most non-gun educated don't realize are the tremendous pressures that guns operate at. When we reload real ammunition, we use a recipe for which powder, bullet and overall case length to select based upon pressure, which in some rounds can run 50,000 to 70,000 POUNDS PER SQUARE INCH! Shooting a firearm is detonating a small explosion inches from your face. Granted, blanks generate less psi than regular rounds but still, the energy expended by blanks can easily kill someone. Non-gun people don't seem to understand this, which is why people continue to be killed with "blanks" on sets.

I instruct 12-18 year old Boy Scouts how to safely handle and shoot guns and have for years. If young kids can safely handle and shoot real guns with real ammunition, you'd think that mature, rational adults could be taught to safely handle guns on set but I disagree, I don't think they can be taught with any guarantee of safety, as these repeated incidents have made clear. IMHO, there is no reason to have real guns on a set. Too many irresponsible people, playing make believe. The last set I was on in Africa, the entire, very gun heavy production used rubber and non-firing replica guns, all muzzle flashes and case ejections where handled digitally, and most of the explosions were handled digitally, although they did set off one explosion with two stunt people who were thrown about ten feet from it. It's not that difficult to teach actors how react to recoil and many popular guns these days, like AR-15 type rifles, in real life, have almost no recoil. As someone trained and certified to watch people and be responsible for people handling real guns, my vote is to ban real guns from movie and TV sets. I've worked side by side with Hollywood armorers on various projects and there are just too many mitigating factors to make having real guns on set be safe. We are playing make believe in production, so let's use make believe guns. Digital compositing is not that difficult or expensive anymore. If you can afford to have a crew, actors, fake guns, props, stunts and gunfights on set, you can afford to comp in muzzle flashes and case ejections. Bullet hits can also be handled digital now without too much trouble or you can still shoot insert shots of hits using traditional squib hits. At least then, the expert in charge of setting off the squib hits is an expert and not an actor.
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