Photo by Hennie Stander. @henniestander
Posted by William Klayer
GROUP | Safety on the Set
Copied from Crescenzo
Info for those not in the film/tv industry:
Regarding the recent tragedy on the film set of “Rust”
Here is a rundown of how a gun should travel from the Property lockup to set, and back:
- A trained Property person removes the weapon from the gun safe, they “clear” the gun; checking that the barrel is unobstructed, and the magazine is empty. Professional Property Persons will habitually clear a weapon every single time it passes into their hands.
- As a hard rule, there is never any live ammunition allowed in the lockup, on the Prop truck, on stage, or inside any filming location.
- The gun arrives in the stage or the location and is either secured in a locking cabinet or retained in the possession of, and under the control of, the Property person. It is certainly never left unattended in plain view on a prop cart.
- Prior to rehearsal the Prop person clears the weapon in the presence of:
- The first Assistant Director
- Any person the gun may get aimed at, including both cast & crew
- The actor who will be handling the weapon in the scene
- This gives everyone confidence that the weapon is “cold,” meaning it is unloaded.
The standard admonition given to the actor when handing off a gun includes:
- Treat every weapon as if it is loaded
- Practice muzzle control
- Keep the trigger finger outside of the trigger guard until ready to fire
- An actor is always explicitly told “Hot Gun” or “Cold Gun” by the Weapons Handler. Every. Single. Time.
- During the rehearsal actors verbally call out their shots to ascertain where everyone will be when the shots are fired and make certain that no one, cast or crew, is in the direct line of fire and/or too close. No blanks are EVER used in rehearsal. This is the time to ensure that the scene can be shot safely. If an actor feels that they need to practice with their gun they are given time to train under the supervision of a trained Property Person, away from the set area. The 1st AD is the final authority on safety, but any crew member can express their concerns.
- When it comes time to shoot the scene, the Property Person/Weapons Handler loads the magazine for the weapon with the required number of blanks for that shot. The weapon is made “hot” [the magazine inserted and a round chambered] only when cameras are ready to roll, and the Handler announces “Fire in the hole” followed by how many shots will be fired. At no time should a “hot” weapon be loaded with more rounds than are needed for the take. Sometimes an AD will want to be able to shoot multiple takes without cutting and ask for a fully loaded weapon. This is a hard no. Stunt performers sometimes ask for a fully loaded weapon so they can ad lib. This is a hard no.
- When the cameras cut the Weapons Handler retrieves the weapon from the actor and immediately clears it. If there is a stovepipe misfire or any type of jamming in the weapon it is removed from set to be checked for malfunction. Good policy dictates that if there are multiple guns on set that each Weapons Handler is expected to manage no more than 3 guns at most. More weapons means more Handlers. When the scene is completed all weapons are cleared and promptly returned to a gun safe or other lockup.
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William Klayer, a 30-year veteran, who worked on over 200 episodes for the award winning television series, Law & Order. Mr. Klayer filmed over 90 episodes as the Cinematographer (Director of Photography) and served as the director for 2 episodes. Law & Order has won 41 awards, including 4 Emmy Awards, and has garnered 151 nominations, including 6 Golden Globes.