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Prop guns spark debate after cinematographer’s death on set -Breaking


© Reuters. Aerial view of Bonanza Creek Ranch, where Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin shot Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer, and injured a director after he fired a prop gun at the Santa Fe movie set for “Rust”.


By Gabriella Borter

(Reuters) – An incident that saw Alec Baldwin shoot a prop gun in order to kill Halyna Hutchins, a cinematographer on set while filming a New Mexico movie has raised concerns about prop guns.

Prop guns may be non-firing facsimile weapon, however, most guns have real ammunition and are loaded with bullets instead.

Since long, prop guns were used to create the illusion of the recoil and flash that actors experience when they pull the trigger. Blank cartridges are guns that do not contain a bullet, but instead use gunpowder. They can prove fatal when used at close range.

Productions using prop guns have designated weapons handlers or armorers tasked with watching the weapons on set, regularly checking that they are only loaded when needed and with the intended material, and ensuring that actors use them safely, according to industry rules and experts.

“Every armorer with whom I’ve worked takes this job seriously,” Ben Rock (film and television director) told Reuters.

Rock claimed that for years he opposed firing blank shots, believing the “gritty reality” it provides can be substituted by airsoft guns and visual effects added in postproduction.

“Why does it seem worth the risk?” Rock said. Rock said, “We are also pretending all else. I don’t see why this can’t be done too.”

Santa Fe, New Mexico Sheriff’s Department says that no charges were filed against Hutchins in the fatal shooting and Souza’s injury. The investigation is still ongoing. According to the sheriff’s office, Baldwin fired a protruding firearm.

Baldwin serves as a coproducer, and is also an actor in the film “Rust”, which depicts a Western in Kansas 1880s.

Rick Pallaziol is the owner of the company “Weapons of Choice”. He has been renting prop weapons to theater, television and film clients for more than three decades. Pallaziol said that he stopped renting guns capable of firing rounds to movie productions over 20 years ago due to concerns about blank cartridges. He said that even with all the rules, it is possible to become a fatalist if there’s a short lapse of alertness following a long day.

Pallaziol said to Reuters, “Protocols don’t suffice.” “Someone must be afraid that the gun will go off at any given time, and if it is pointed in an incorrect direction, they should yell bloody murder to stop anything from happening.”

Ken Sonkin was a University of San Francisco professor of performing arts and is an expert in stage combat. He said that Hutchins’s death might give directors cause to pause.

Sonkin stated that he believes the Industry will require workers to reinvest into their safety precautions, and perhaps reexamine these.

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