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View Full Version : Directing a gun fight scene



calito
10-04-2004, 08:51 PM
I'm sorry if this is not the appropriate place for this add.

I'll soon be shooting a gun fight scene for my trailer and I have no idea of how and who to hire in the gun department. I've been told that it must be a certified person. Besides putting an add in craigslist what else can I do? Is there a sight dedicated to this sort of thing?

Maybe some one can point me in the right direction.

Again, i'm really sorry if this is the wrong place.

Also, I'm open to any advice you're willing to offer in directing a action scene with gun shooting. I've never done it before so anything will help.

THiNSPiRiT
10-04-2004, 09:59 PM
Firstly, don't use real guns... use realistic looking fake guns... they should not be able to fire bullets. Big time hollywood films sometimes use real guns with blanks, however they also have way more in the way of liability than a smalltime production. Brendan Lee was killed by a real gun when shooting the crow. I would recommend against using real ones as much as possible simply because it's not always needed to make it good.

Secondly, you can do muzzle flashes in post relatively easy. The real trick is to get your actors to look like they're actually shooting a gun and react in the way someone would normally with the kickback and facial expressions.

Lastly, and I cannot stress this more, NOTIFY THE POLICE IN YOUR AREA OF YOUR SHOOT AND YOUR INTENTIONS. Have a police officer around at your shoot to ensure people know what's happening. If you don't you might end up with several squad cars showing up at your shoot with real guns with real bullets pointed at your actors. If one of your actors makes a wrong move you better believe they'll shoot, fake prop guns or not. The police are not willing to listen to explanations when they have what they believe is a potentially dangerous situation in front of them. They'll arrest the actors or shoot them and it will get cleared up afterwards but you really don't want to risk your actors getting shot or going to jail for a night.

Let the police know what's happening and they're usually okay with it. You just might have to pay for the one at the shoot's salary for the day... usually $20 an hour or so...

calito
10-05-2004, 04:20 AM
Do I still need a certified person if the the guns are fake?

Shaw
10-05-2004, 11:09 AM
Not really. having a certified person is ALWAYS a big plus and can add to the film but I don't think it is *legally* necessary in this case. Just follow ThiNSPiRiTs advice.

THiNSPiRiT
10-05-2004, 10:47 PM
With fake guns you don't need someone who's certified to use fake guns, but you do need a cop on hand to inform other police officers of what's going on and if any show up or anyone calls the cops that there are a bunch of people pointing guns at each other it goes over the radio, which at that point the cop on your set can call dispatch and explain the situation. Also, dispatch will know of the area you are filming at and any calls that come in from that area will be known there's a film shoot going on. It's a good idea to let the people in the area know of what's happening.

If there's a cop on set too there's less of a chance someone will call in because they'll see the police are already there. So while you don't need someone certified with using fake guns, having a cop on set SHOULD be done. If it's completely done in the interiour of a private residence however with fake guns and there's nobody around that will call the cops or you've informed anyone in the area of what's happening (they can see through your window or something) then a cop isn't necessarily required. Any exteriour gun fight scenes should have a police officer on set though. The trouble with fake guns is that they look real and police officers when it comes to life or death never assume that any gun they see will be a fake.

A man took a hostage in downtown Toronto awhile ago with a sawed off shotgun pointed at her head. The gun was jammed and had no chance of firing. A marksman for the police force dropped him with a single bullet to the head killing the man instantly. They don't care if the gun might not fire, they care that there's a potentially dangerous situation at first glance. That's why it's so important even with fake guns or guns that won't fire that you let the police know what's going on.

J_Barnes
10-06-2004, 05:30 AM
Times are very different these days.

I remember several times when as a stupid young kid, my friends and I would be filming some sort of action film inspired gunplay only to have the cops show up and interrupt our shoot.

In those days, they showed up and asked questions.

I wouldn't count on them just asking questions anymore.

THiNSPiRiT
10-07-2004, 12:13 AM
I would count on them shooting your ass. Although it really depends on your location. I'm sure there are some areas where they'd ask questions first. In Toronto, where there are gun crimes every night with someone getting shot, I doubt they'd be as leniant.

natob2
10-07-2004, 02:01 PM
Get a permit. *Notitfy the police of everything. I also encourage you to work with your state and local film offices. *You pay tax dollars to these government agencies, might as well use them to your advantage, they can be a very good leverage tool. *Be nice to the office's director and staff and they will work very hard for you. *I have gotten amazing locations and permissions to use these locations through the film office.

It's better to get a "NO" upfront then to be halfway through a shoot and get kicked out. It is also very satisfying to be on set and have someone attempt to kick you off, then you pull the permit or location agreement out of your pocket and say "Read it and weap!"

As for guns...My friend shot a low budget action/thriller and he got the police on his side very early in pre-pro. He not only was provided with plenty of real guns, he also got a weapons expert to be onset to supervise the firing of blanks AND he got a fully SWAT team and emergency vehicles to be on set for 8 hours... at NO CHARGE!

Phil
10-07-2004, 02:18 PM
If you get a "closed set" location. The owner gives you written permission. And everyone on set has signed that they have been notified of gun use.

It should still be ok right?

So people know...What could go wrong in gun filming situations?

THiNSPiRiT
10-09-2004, 11:27 PM
It's only okay phil if there's no chance of someone calling the cops to show up at your place and shoot you.

Using real guns unless you have experts around is a bad idea, a bullet could be left in the chamber, or something else like that could go wrong...

The worst that could go wrong in a gun fighting situation is someone dies... someone gets shot by a prop gun with a bullet left in accidently, or a cop shows up thinking you have real guns and shoots you in self-defense and for the safety of those around...

It's as bad as electricity on a film set. People can die...

If no one dies, you could go to jail for quite some time...

Better to be open and forthright about it with the proper authorities, they're usually pretty good about helping people out with it as long as you go about it the right way.

Mike_Donis
10-10-2004, 10:01 AM
I second that, THiN, it 'aint worth the potential danger - get authorities notified to ensure you won't have a problem.

maverickprods
10-23-2004, 02:05 PM
You can also rent "non guns" from rental houses. We use them exclusively on "Reno 911". The loads are fairly expensive, but there is no danger. They produce a flash like a full loaded blank and a small pop. Our propmaster doesn't have to have an armorer on set. I agree with all posts before that you should get permits to do all shooting with arms. A police officer is not a mandatory necessity. They are never present on the physical set when we shoot. Either an effects person, an armorer or propmaster will handle all firearms.

armstead
10-23-2004, 02:59 PM
My man thin spirit said:


"Lastly, and I cannot stress this more, NOTIFY THE POLICE IN YOUR AREA OF YOUR SHOOT AND YOUR INTENTIONS. Have a police officer around at your shoot to ensure people know what's happening. If you don't you might end up with several squad cars showing up at your shoot with real guns with real bullets pointed at your actors. If one of your actors makes a wrong move you better believe they'll shoot, fake prop guns or not. The police are not willing to listen to explanations when they have what they believe is a potentially dangerous situation in front of them. They'll arrest the actors or shoot them and it will get cleared up afterwards but you really don't want to risk your actors getting shot or going to jail for a night."

Ah yes, you may want to let the heat know. Another little story for you. Two weeks ago shooting a scene involving guns (we're using some rather realistic looking airsoft replicas) No actual shooting of the guns, our actors simply came into a back yard with the guns out and then they put them away. Cognizant of the problems of walking city streets with guns our actors were told not to walk anywhere near the street with the guns and to stay within the driveway which is fenced off. One gentlemen, however was waiting for a friend and kept walking out the to the curb to see where he was. With his gun drawn. With dark sunglasses on. A concerned neighbor called the police and soon our poor set was surrounded by Detroit's finest. Who, by the way, aren't known for asking too many questions. It was potentially letahal situation. Be careful out there home team.