Alec Baldwin: What are the prop weapons used in movie shoots like and why are they dangerous?

On a film set, a real tragedy happened again.

On the set of the movie Rust, American actor Alec baldwin fired a prop gun that injured the cinematographer Halyna hutchins and the director of the film, Joel souza.

Hutchins, 42, passed away after in a hospital.

The incident occurred Thursday on a recording set in New Mexico, in the southwestern United States.

“My heart is broken for her husband, her son and everyone who knew and loved Halyna,” Baldwin said on Friday, noting later that she is “fully cooperating” with the authorities’ investigation.

Incidents like this are rare as the use of firearms on film sets is subject to strict safety regulations.

However, despite appearing harmless, both prop pistols and bullets they can be dangerstos.

What are the prop guns like?

Blank bullets are used in the film industry to mimic live ammunition.

The reason they are so compelling is that they are essentially modified real bullets.



Although the term “bullet” is commonly used to describe what is loaded in weapons, more properly what is loaded is a cartridge: an ammunition package composed of a casing containing explosive powder that, when fired, launches a projectile or bullet.

The blanks are different because, although they use the explosive material, they have no projectile.

There are multiple types of prop guns, from non-functional guns to toy guns. But there are also real or adapted weapons for firing blank bullets.

All are used to give authenticity to productions.

If you shoot a target with a utility pistol, you get a loud sound, a butt or sudden movement in the opposite direction of the shot, and the so-called “muzzle flash” or flash, the visible light created by the combustion of gunpowder.

Has this type of incident happened before?

Maybe you remember Brandon lee, the son of the martial arts legend Bruce Lee.

Brandon Lee died at the age of 28 in 1993 while filming The Crow (“The Raven”), caused by a shot with a prop pistol that by mistake had a bullet (containing a projectile) in the barrel.

Brandon lee

Getty Images
Brandon Lee died at the age of 28.

After Lee was shot, the cameras kept rolling. Those on set realized that something was wrong when they noticed that the actor did not get up.

In another incident, in 1984, the American actor Jon-Erik Hexum began joking around on the set of a television show during a filming delay.

He loaded a revolver with a bullet, rotated the chamber, pointed the pistol at his temple, and fired.

Died days later at the hospital.

Unlike Lee, his death was not caused by a projectile, but rather the force of the blast from the salvo was strong enough to fracture his skull.

How can they be used safely?

Hexum’s death highlights a problem with blanks, as even without a projectile they have enormous power.

Movie sets often have strict rules about the use of prop guns. Specialists provide weapons for use in filming and advise on how to use them.

“There are basic security measures on every set,” says Mike Tristano, a gunsmith who has worked with Alec Baldwin in the past.

“You never point a gun at someone, even if it is not a real firearm. I don’t know how this could have happened and how it could have done so much damage, “he says.

Brad Pitt aims a gun in a film

Getty Images

A common shot in a movie is that of a character shooting at the camera. Steven Hall, who has worked on films such as Fury (“Hearts of Steel”) and The Imitation Game (“The enigma code”), says that this is only done with safeguards.

“If you are in the line of fire … you must have a face mask and glasses, to be behind a perspex screen [acrílico resistente] and minimize the number of people with the camera ”, he explains.

“What I don’t understand in this case is how two people were injured, one tragically dead, in the same event.”

Others who work in the cinema wondered why, with the technology there is to add weapon effects through computers, blanks are still used.

“There is no reason to have guns loaded with salvoes or anything on set anymore. It should be completely banned, ”tweeted Craig Zobel, American actor and filmmaker.

“Support weapons are weapons,” tweeted television writer David Slack.

“Salvage bullets contain real gunpowder. They can hurt or kill, and they have. If you’re ever on a set where prop weapons are being handled without proper precaution and safe handling, walk away. ”

“It is not worth risking people’s lives,” he added.

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