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If computers can do this, why are real guns still used on film sets?

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NEW YORK (AP) – With computer-generated imagery, it seems the sky is the limit of the magic Hollywood can produce: elaborate dystopian universes. Space trips, for those who are neither astronauts nor billionaires. Immersive journeys to the future, or return to bygone times.

But as a shocked and saddened industry was reminded this week, many productions still use guns – real guns – when filming. And despite the rules and regulations, people can get killed, as happened last week when Alec Baldwin shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins after being handed a gun and told it was safe.

The tragedy has led some in Hollywood, as well as disbelieving observers, to wonder: why real pistols never used on set, when can computers create shots in post-production? Is not the slightest risk unacceptable?

For Alexi Hawley, it is. “Any risk is too much risk,” the executive producer of ABC crime drama “The Rookie” announced Friday, saying the events in New Mexico “have shaken us all.”

There will be “no more” real “weapons in the series,” he wrote in a note, first reported by The Hollywood Reporter and confirmed by The Associated Press.

Instead, he said, the policy would be to use replica firearms, which use pellets and not bullets, with muzzle flashes added in post-production.

The director of popular Kate Winslet drama “Mare of Easttown” Craig Zobel called on the entire industry to follow suit and said shots on this show were added after filming, although on productions previous he has used live tours.

“There is no longer any reason to have guns loaded with blanks or anything on set,” Zobel wrote on Twitter. “Should just be totally banned. There are computers now. The shots on ‘Mare of Easttown’ are all digital. You can probably tell, but who cares? It is an unnecessary risk.

Bill Dill – a cinematographer who taught Hutchins, a rising star in his field, at the American Film Institute – expressed disgust in an interview for the “archaic practice of using real guns with blanks, when we have infographics readily available and inexpensive”.

Dill, whose credits include “The Five Heartbeats” and “Dancing in September,” said there was an added danger of real guns because “people work long hours” on movies and “are exhausted. “.

“There is no excuse for using real weapons,” he said.

A petition was launched this weekend on changer.org so that real guns are banned from production sets.

“There is no excuse for something like this to happen in the 21st century,” he said of the tragedy. “It’s not the early 90s, when Brandon Lee was killed the same way. Change must happen before more talented lives are lost. Lee, the actor and son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, was killed in 1993 by a makeshift bullet left in a prop gun after a previous scene.

The petition directly called on Baldwin “to use his power and influence” in the industry and to promote “Halyna’s Law,” which would ban the use of live firearms on set. As it stands, the US Federal Agency for Occupational Safety is silent on the matter and most of the preferred states for productions are taking a largely hands-off approach.

Hutchins, 42, has died and director Joel Souza was injured Thursday on the set of Western “Rust” when Baldwin fired a propeller pistol that a crew member unwittingly told him he was “cold “or that he was not loaded with live ammunition, according to court documents drafted. public Friday.

Souza was then released from the hospital.

The tragedy occurred after some workers had left work to protest the security conditions and other production issues on the film, of which Baldwin is the star and a producer.

In an interview, British cinematographer Steven Hall noted that he had worked on a production this year in Madrid that involved “a lot of guns”.

“We were encouraged not to use blanks, but to rely on visual effects in post (production) to create the effect we wanted from a particular gun, with the actor mimicking the weapon’s recoil. , and it works great, ”he said. .

He noted, however, that special effects add costs to a production’s budget. “So it’s easier and perhaps more economical to unload your gun on the set using a blank,” said Hall, a seasoned cinematographer who has worked on films like “Fury” and “Thor: The”. Dark World “. But, he said, “the problem with white people is, of course… something is emitting from the gun.”

Besides financial concerns, why would real guns be considered preferable? “There are benefits to using blanks on the set that some people want,” said Sam Dormer, a British “gunsmith” or gun specialist. “For example, you get a (better) reaction from the actor.”

Still, Dormer said, the movie industry is likely moving away from real guns, albeit slowly.

The term “propeller gun” can be applied to anything from a rubber toy to a real firearm that can fire a projectile. If it is used for shooting, even blank it is considered a real pistol. A blank is a cartridge that contains gunpowder but no bullet. Still, it can injure or even kill someone nearby, according to the Actors’ Equity Association.

This is why many are calling for a ban on blanks as well and for the use of deactivated weapons or replicas.

“Really, there is no good reason today to have white people on set,” director Liz Garbus wrote on Twitter. “CGI can make the weapon look ‘real’, and if you don’t have the budget for CGI, then don’t shoot the scene. “

Megan Griffiths, a Seattle-based filmmaker, wrote that she was often pushed back when she demanded weapons disabled and not firing on set.

“But that’s why,” she said on Twitter. “Mistakes happen, and when they involve guns, mistakes kill. … Mouth flashes are the simplest and cheapest visual effect.

“Why do we always do this? “


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