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Member2021-12-16 at 10:06 AM
Old thread, but maybe worth clearing a few things up, without getting into the specifics of the RUST accident:
Telling blanks from live ammo is generally pretty easy; the front of a blank has either a crimp or some kind of wadding/cover, the front of a live round has a bullet.
The problem comes in with Dummy Rounds, because the whole point is that they look like real rounds, complete with bullets. Sometimes we can get away with using dummy rounds with fired primers, so you can spot them by the dimple in the back, but if we ever see the back end that doesn’t work. Sometimes people will load bbs in them so they can tell by shaking them (if they rattle, they’re dummy). Sounds like the ones on Rust maybe had a hole in the side of the casing. Problem is, most of those you can’t tell when it’s loaded in a prop, you have to take it out and inspect it, which the 1st AD and actor didn’t do.
It’s pretty common to use dummy rounds with real (or fake) revolvers, because you can see the bullets sitting in the cylinder when it’s loaded (or see that they’re missing when it’s not)… at least when viewed from the front, which this shot was obviously set up to be. That means crews have to be extra careful about what type of prop is used, checking ammo types, shot angles, safe handling practices, etc. when doing a shot like that.
Normally there is a process in place. The armorer or gun wrangler should have personally checked every item before and after use, chosen the safest option for the job at hand (this being a camera setup rehearsal it could have been a dummy, although rubber does tend to make quick-draws hard) and personally handed it off to the performer when needed, telling them its status and what actions to take with it in this shot, then taking it back again as soon as it wasn’t needed. It should have been locked up any time it wasn’t under their direct supervision (them or their trained assistants).
And of course there shouldn’t have been live ammo on set to begin with.
So many multiple failures of the normal protocol had to happen here for this accident to occur.