The death of Halyna Hutchins by a mistaken shot in New Mexico has led to a clear need to tighten gun safety regulations. Hutchins was killed around 15 months ago when actor, Alec Baldwin, unwittingly fired a gun he thought was unarmed. Safety is likely to improve significantly not owing to legislation, but rather, to technology.
Digital and other technology could make gunfire completely obsolete. Moreover, Hutchins’ demise has had a big impact on sets, with practices such as shouting out the presence of a gun and its status likely to make people on set take extra safety precautions.
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What Are The Most Common Accidents On Film Sets?
Film sets have a unique set of work circumstances, yet there is no specific OSHA regime for shoots. Instead, the industry is subject to the same regulations as those applying to other industries. They have similar rules, for instance, with respect to noise, fire prevention, personal protective equipment, and construction safety. Compensation for work-related injuries and accidents are also similar since the most common mishaps change little across industries.
For instance, the National Safety Council reports that some of the most common categories of incidents include exposure to harmful substances, overexertion, slips, contact with objects and equipment, and transportation accidents. Of course, films vary greatly in aspects such as firearm and weapon safety needs, since action films are far more likely to bring these risks to set than films from the vast majority of genres.
Can The Onus Be Placed On Actors?
Although casts and crews in film sets in which weapons are used are now double-checking, the outcome of the Alec Baldwin case will undoubtedly have a powerful impact on work rules and regulations. The actor’s union and lawyer say the onus to check guns and other firearms cannot be placed on the actor.
According to the Screen Actors Guild, an actor’s job does not consist of being a weapons or firearms expert. Rather, the multiple expert professionals hired to guide the cast and crew on the use of firearms are responsible for the safe and accurate operation of these weapons. The Santa Fe District Attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies, however, argues that it is the responsibility of anyone holding a gun to check whether it’s loaded.
Digital tools promise to make the issue of onus a moot point when it comes to the film industry since Visual effects (VFX) and computer-generated imagery (CGI) have revolutionized the film industry, enabling filmmakers to achieve highly realistic imagery. These technologies have made it possible to create breathtaking landscapes in distant worlds, bring talking creatures to life, and simulate awe-inspiring fire- and water-focused scenes.
They have also made it easier to create scenes that were once considered too challenging for live-action filming. Today, CGI is more than capable of replicating the look, sound, and impact of firearms. This development, alongside the recent shooting, is a reminder that technology is here for the taking—especially when people’s lives and well-being are at stake.
As Alec Baldwin continues to defend himself against two counts of involuntary manslaughter, film sets across the US are starting to up their safety regulations. On a simple level, cast and crew are being made more aware of the presence of firearms. From a technological viewpoint, filmmakers are considering the use of VFX and CGI as a way to reduce the chances of accidental shootings to nil.