SAFETY FAQ

ARE BLANKS DANGEROUS?

Blank ammunition can be very dangerous if used negligently. People have the misconception that blanks are the same as kids cap guns. Blanks that are used in Semi and Full auto fire-arms need to have high pressure loads in order for the Fire-arms to function correctly and reliably. Safety distances from the end of the muzzle to Camera or cast vary from blank to blank and fire-arm to fire-arm. These issues must be discussed with the on set Armourer before setting up Camera and action sequences. Rehearsals are of the utmost importance to safely plan when and where firing should take place. The use of Camera protection for crew and equipment is mandatory. The on set grip must have necessary protection with him .When firing close up to camera, optical flats should be used to protect the Camera lens and if the on set Armourer insists, the camera should be “locked off” set to role and before a loaded fire-arm is handed over to the artist, the camera crew needs to “walk away”.”Cameras can be replaced, eyes and lives can not!

Every time a fire-arm is handed over to a cast member the on set Armourer must show and announce that the fire-arms are “SAFE”.When a fire-arm needs to be fired (Blank discharged) the fire-arm will only be handed over once “SPEED” has been announced. The on set Armourer will also announce loudly that the fire-arm is “HOT” or “LOADED”. I find it also helps the cast member if you, at that time say “FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOU ARE READY”.

Remember Actors have got a lot on their plate...actions, lines, cues, camera marks, props, action vehicles, fight scenes and then at the last moment a “LOADED GUN” is placed in his or her hands.

WE HAVE A VERY LOW BUDGET AND NEED A FIRE-ARM ON SET. CAN WE USE THE LOCAL GAME-RANGERS RIFLE OR THE FARMERS RIFLE WHERE WE ARE FILMING?

No, Nee, Adefeni, Haikona, Nyet, Nein.

We have all heard the horror stories of productions that shoot within game parks and farms where the Art department ask the locals if they can utilize their fire-arms on set. It starts off as “No, the fire-arm will never have to fire”and then suddenly a shot has to be fired to “Scare off the Lions”. No problem, we can fire off a live round into the air. The problem is, what goes up must come down! Fire-arm licenses are issued for specific purposes. If you apply for a handgun license for self protection then you can only use it for that purpose. If you apply for a hunting rifle for occasional hunting you cannot by law use it for self defense or even on a movie set .Armouring companies supplying fire-arms to the Film and TV industry license their fire-arms specifically for use on Movie Sets and the on set Armourer is the only person that can allow somebody else (Actor or Cast member) the use of the said fire-arm, without the necessary legal requirements as stated by the local law enforcement.

Remember fire-arms that are not supplied by Legal Armouring Companies can still fire “LIVE AMMUNITION”. It is the Producers responsibility to ensure the safety of cast and crew at all times. Handing over of a fire-arm that has not been licensed for movie specific purposes is a criminal offense. Take note..when it is filmed on camera that is evidence for prosecution.

DUTIES AND IDENTIFYING AN “ON SET” ARMOURER

As a Producer you should ask the Armouring company to produce there valid Accreditation certificate prior to a shoot and then “Verify” it with the local policing authorities.

SAFETY FIRST!!!!!!!!!

There seems to be a common misconception that an Armourer is just a “Gangster with a gun collection” or maybe linked to the local Mob. Armourers are licensed and Accredited specifically to deal with Blank fire-arms on and off set. Armourer's are also effectively an “actor coach” instructing the artist on how he or she should preform as a SWAT member, Gunslinger, Sniper or just a simple Thug. Even children need to be trained, some as young as 6 years old. Remember, Rambo was not born, somebody had to teach him.
One of my biggest challenges was having to un-train an actress to play the role of a nervous housewife who had never handled a fire-arm before. The challenge came about because we had trained the same actress two years prior to be a Gunslinging Cow Girl with fast draws, fanning the hammer etc.

If an on set Armourer walks onto set, hands over a Fire-arm and walks off to catering, “BE WORRIED”! That's an accident waiting to happen. Firearms should be handed over for rehearsals and takes (Armourer present at all times) and removed after the rehearsal or take, unless the specific Artist wants to get the feel of the said fire-arm on him between takes. Be prepared to have the Armourer follow the Artist around like a shadow because Artists have been known to leave fire-arms in “NICE TOILETS”.

Informing the correct departments of the Safety steps to be taken to avoid accidents relating to Fire-arms and discharging of Blank ammunition.
Ensuring the security of the Fire-arms on and off set.
On set continuity
The ability to cope with last minute script and schedule changes
A link between local Policing authorities and production.
Re-regulating of blank firing adapters within the Fire-arms according to the air pressures of each countries locations.

SHOULD THE LOCAL POLICE BE NOTIFIED ABOUT THE FIRING OF BLANKS ON A SHOOT?

The local law enforcement body that controls fire-arms in the country are referred to as CENTRAL FIREARMS REGISTER (CFR). When certain firearms are to be utilized on movie shoots for example fully automatic machine guns, CFR stipulates that we, the Armouring company, informs them 4 weeks prior to the shoot. The details that they require are basic date, time and place as well as production details.
When blank ammunition is to be used in a shooting scene the local policing offices should be contacted a day prior to shoot day informing them of the fact that blank ammunition will be discharged. Local members of the public that are unaware of the fact that “Hollywood”has just arrived on there door step, might phone the Police and report a possible crime being committed.

There have been cases where police have rushed to a scene and in the process, endangering their lives as well as members of the public, just to arrive at a “Movie set” and wrestle a actor to the ground unaware of the fact that an entire Film crew is watching this all go down.

The local Police authorities are very accommodating to Film makers and very seldom refuse the use of Blank Ammunition in public places, provided that they have been pre-warned and can see that qualified Film Armourers are controlling the safety on set.

Props