8 months after ‘rusting’, the changed guns are still in the mixed bag – The Hollywood Reporter

More than eight months later Rust Tragedy sets the spotlight on gun safety – especially at the lower budget level – awareness is heightened, but real change has been limited and is stalling. The modest changes that can be detected appear to be driven by emerging liability concerns on the part of business divisions at the studio level. And as outrage subsided, reform legislation stalled or was abandoned.

The Hollywood Reporter contacted many leading industry experts about how their day-to-day work in production has been impacted since Alec Baldwin fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in his starring film. and production. Perhaps be wary of the stigma around Rust, most are reluctant to talk about the subject. But a trend has emerged in many interviews: the increasing use of Airsoft guns – which are non-powder clones and fire bullets with much lower muzzle energies – in place of firearms equipped with added for empty cells. When using Airsoft guns, they are enhanced with visual effects, including smoke and muzzle flashes (typically the case with handguns as well).

“It’s a strict liability,” explains Bryan W. Carpenter, an armorer at Dark Thirty, based in New Orleans, whose credits include Queen of the South and American Ultraof the growing transition to Airsoft with products such as Mission ImpossibleDeadly challenge (previous adoption) Rust).“If it looks a little worse, even with the effects, so be it. Especially if you don’t want to spend the money to hire a professional curator.” (Some works seek to cut costs by tasking prop masters with arming missions.)

Usually, Airsofts are used in conjunction with firearms. For example, X fast – the big gun-focused movie currently in production from Universal – incorporates Airsofts but still uses guns for some scenes and performances.

Carpenter notes an irony – that the studio and network attorneys are pushing for change: “Guess who’s still doing it the same way [using blanks]? Small products. They are the ones who may encounter safety problems. The bigger the numbers, I would assume there’s more to lose. As proof that the major productions are paying more attention to gun use, even when it comes to accountability, Carpenter said he was surprised when he recently appeared for a day on AMC’s Interview with a vampire and the call board featured a sign that there was a “licensed and accredited armorer on set.” This was “the first time I saw it, and I worked on a lot of shows,” explains Carpenter.

Bruce Wentzel of South Africa’s Hire Arms Company, responsible for similar weapons Rwanda Hotel and Interpreter, agree that there is a change to Airsoft. “We have a couple of jobs here where they will do everything digital because of safety concerns; people are eyeing a sale. “He is left wondering if his niche is in jeopardy. puzzle pieces turned into blanks – thinking, ‘Wow, [if] this will be the future, what’s the problem? ‘”

Wentzel, who asserts that retrofit weapons are only dangerous “if the rules are not followed,” is skeptical about the accuracy of the Airsoft option, due to its varying recoil. “The way the actors react to the real weapons looks better. You are firing an Airsoft gun and will pew-pew-pew –it doesn’t look like the real thing. “

Many cinematographers argue that there is no need for weapons on set. After Hutchins’ death, hundreds of famous DPs signed an open letter calling on the entertainment industry to ban “functional guns,” meaning guns that can use live ammunition. Signed by Greig Fraser (Sand dunes), Rachel Morrison (Black Panther), Bradford Young (Arrive), Mandy Walker (Elvis) and Dana Gonzales (Fargo), the letter read: “We are calling for immediate action from our union leadership, manufacturers and legislators to influence unified change on our behalf.” They added that they will no longer work on projects that use functional guns for filming purposes.

VFX experts point out that using visual effects to replace guns shouldn’t be too disruptive – these techniques are already widely used. Drew Jones, director of VFX business development at VFX firm Cinesite, wrote in an email. His company’s recent credits include There’s no time to die. “It’s usually because the blanks on the set don’t always fire correctly, or perhaps the number of muzzle blinks doesn’t match the action or the timing isn’t correct.” Josh Jaggars, VFX and stereo team president at DNEG (Sand dunes), agree. “VFX companies like DNEG have been adding muzzle flash [to replace or augment the real thing] for years, without anyone realizing it,” he said.

Meanwhile, new technologies are being developed. VFX Supervisor Jeffrey Okun, a past president of the Visual Effects Association, explains: “In my world, we were discussing building a hard slingshot with an LED bulb at the end of the muzzle. so that when they pull the trigger, the gun will flash.”

Sound experts also say that functional guns are not necessary for them to get the best sound, as gunfire is often added in the post in all cases. “Gunshots on set are not meant to affect the final sound of a TV show or TV show,” explains supervisory sound editor Mark Lanza (Reacher, Manhunt), who served as president of Motion Picture Sound Editors. “The dummy ring is mainly used for visuals, so you can see the gun shot in the actor’s hand and the action of the pistol or rifle revolving next.… The sound they make on set isn’t authentic. very accurate. The payload was light, and apparently, no bullets flew over the head of the star or the camera. “

Beyond such innovative approaches, the ability to regulate gun use through legislation has yet to make strides. In mid-May, two California competition bills – one supported by the industry trade group the Motion Picture Association, the other by several industry unions including SAG-AFTRA, the Guild Director, and another. number of IATSE Locals – was killed in a state senate committee when both parties failed to reach a compromise on a unified approach. One bill, SB 829, seeks to specifically address firearms regulations, while SB 831 takes a more far-reaching approach to safety setting, seeking to install a “safety supervisor.” ” independent, who can automatically pause production to address concerns.

Senator Anthony Portantino, author of MPA-backed SB 829, chaired the committee where the two bills stalled and made the decision to stay. He said both sides have continued to talk and he doesn’t believe they are “that far apart”, but that “they need to come up with a compromise solution” for the legislation to move forward. “I’m challenging both sides to do the right thing,” he said.

Senator Dave Cortese, the author of the pro-labor protest bill, wrote in an email that since May, he “has had subsequent conversations with my Senate colleagues as well. as industry stakeholders to drive these reforms forward.” He added, “A bill can always be returned.”

“We will continue to strive for that.” [passed],” affirmed Baird B. Steptoe Sr., newly elected president of IATSE Local 600 (International Association of Cinematographers), of which Hutchins is a member. “Our local now has a video that we show all of our members about safety practices, including firearms. It was a tragic incident that happened, and we cannot let it happen again. So we have to inform our crew and the industry on how to be safer. And that’s what we’re doing.”

It’s not yet clear if other states can pass their own laws: A New Mexico bill that would require crew members to complete dead weapons-specific safety training early in the year Now, while a bill banning the firing of live ammunition at film production facilities is still being worked on. through the New York State Senate.

Responses are limited in scope Rust may reflect the belief in Hollywood that, in hindsight, tragedy is just an odd situation that does not require significant changes to existing standards if they are to be followed properly. On June 13, in the wake of mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, gun control organization Brady released an open letter signed by more than 200 leading industry figures – including Shonda Rhimes, JJ Abrams, Judd Apatow, and Michelle and Robert King. The statement partly calls for a more responsible depiction of gun use on screen, showing how representations of smoking, drunk driving and marital equality have helped develop cultural norms. and save many lives.

However, the letter did not address the issue of gun safety in place. Christy Callahan, co-president of Brady LA, helped create the language and organize the big names, along with her husband, former MGM president Jonathan Glickman, who now runs Panoramic Media. “We definitely talked about [gun use on set]”, she said, but noted that the recommendations are endorsed by the signatories – including making “a conscious effort to show the characters safely locking their guns and making them inaccessible to children” — it’s more about cultural norms than regulation. Meanwhile, Callahan reminds, “One of the only places that really has regulation in the country about guns. To be an.”

Additional reporting by Aaron Couch, James Hibberd and Katie Kilkenny.

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