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  • Andrew Pritzker / Qikfinger Films


There is nothing on this Earth that cannot be computer generated on film. Think about it. Dinosaurs, rocket launches, drone flyovers of Dickens’ London, circa 1843, all can be replicated to amazing perfection, to a hyper-reality if you'd like. So why not gunfire?

No one need suffer and die from tragic gun wounds on a film set. The use of blank firing guns on movie sets should have been banned with Brandon Lee's death on The Crow in 1993. At that time, the state of computer graphics was somewhat crude. This is absolutely not the case in 2021. Computer graphics are presently used to created muzzle flashes, slow motion bullets, and anything else you can imagine. There is absolutely no need for prop gun tragedies to occur in 2021, no need for a fully functioning gun on the set of Rust.

A sound effect can replicate a gunshot SFX in post production. Blood effects can be generated in post or by the use of squibs, packets of fake blood popped with an electric pulse. So why do we need fully functioning guns on the set?

Second Amendment rights should not extend to film productions. Why have producers been so reluctant to give up blank firing guns? One reason is money. Computer generated graphics (CG) cost a bit more than a $50 box of blanks. It looks thrifty on a budget's top sheet but when gunfire stunts are added to a production, insurance costs suddenly rise. The price of computer graphics has come down considerably. Effects can be generated on most laptops with downloadable, affordable, editing software.

The cost of stunts using moving vehicles, animals, knives, swords, fire, floods, choreographed hand to hand combat, and guns is tabulated to the nth degree by insurance actuaries. A monetary value is placed on every stunt in a script. Risks are carefully assessed. The use of a certified Firearms Prop-master is required. Stunt Coordinators are required. Suddenly the cost of a box of blanks doesn’t seem so thrifty.

Studio filmmaking is built on tradition. Prop guns and blanks were used on thousands of film sets so why stop now? The answer seems obvious in light of the Rust set's tragedy. There is, however, an even older filmmaking tradition. It's called, “Saving a buck." It may actually be cheaper now to replicate gunfire in post production than to pay rising insurance rates associated with firing blanks. It would certainly be safer.

Film is not reality. It is the recreation of reality. It is a depiction, a facsimile, a beautiful replication. Filmmaking should be an art form, not a war zone. There is no stunt on Earth that cannot be safely replicated in exacting detail on screen. The age of blank firing prop guns needs to be over. Preventable tragedies on film sets need to end. Forget using live blanks in lethal weapons. Create it all in post.

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