Every year hundreds of films go into production. That’s not an exaggeration by any means. We live in an age when a multi-million dollar film like Transformers and a multi-thousand dollar film like Transmorphers can get released at the same time (not necessarily to the same fanfare, but that’s another story for another time). This means that thousands of people are getting employed every month to get these stories told. And usually a project gets filmed without incident, but there are times when problems can crop up. As we saw with the recent accident on-set of The Maze Runner: The Death Cure, people put there lives on the line and sometimes bad things can happen. Today I’m going to talk about some of these accidents, what may have caused them, and if there’s a way to avoid them in the future.
-Stunts Can Be Safe, But Nothing is 100% Safe-
Action films are some of the most entertaining aspects of filmmaking. Whether or not they have a good story or acting doesn’t really matter. Most people go in for the spectacle and forget everything else. But we’ve become jaded in an age when CGI can create anything. People just assume that this has lead to less practical stunt work, but that’s far from the truth. More and more we’re seeing a huge uptick in the number of stunts in films. And while most major stunt companies do their best to keep everyone safe there’s always a chance of something random occurring or improper communication between people. Worse is when smaller stunt companies have to cut corners in order to underbid contracts. This means off the bat that they’re not going to have the same number of people or amount of time to find kinks and fix them. And that never ends well.
-Not Utilizing the Proper Protocols-
A lot of talk has already centered around the tragedy that befell Brandon Lee on the set of The Crow, but often a condensed version of the story is told. Pressed for time, a crew member was told instead of buying dummy bullets to just empty the gun powder out of regular bullets and re-insert the slug. The problem laid in the fact that they forgot to deactivate the percussion primer as well. While filming the gun was discharged with enough force to drive a bullet into the barrel. Once they re-set to film a new scene the dummy rounds were replaced with blanks. With the firearms specialist off-set early no one knew to check the guns before re-setting. What could’ve been avoided is now a terrible reminder of what can happen if someone does not know the proper safety regulations.
-Fearing For Your Job-
This is something that really bothers me about accidents on films sets as I and many friends I know have been put in this situation. Crew members often are so grateful to get any sort of job on a film that they tend to go above and beyond to make it work. This means that when you’re asked to do something dangerous you tend to just say yes because you don’t want to be fired. Example: A friend of mine worked on a film and was asked to cut some branches off a tree so they wouldn’t fall into shot. The tree was situated close to a fast moving river and my friend was given a tiny handsaw to cut the branches. This forced him to haphazardly cut branches, avoid getting hit by them, and try to not fall into the river. Why did my friend who was smart enough to know this was extremely unsafe do it? Because he thought that if he said no they’d fire him. Why should crew members fear for their job override the fear for their life? While every film always needs to get shot quickly that doesn’t mean a person should be talked into putting their life on the line when their job is to dress sets or operate a boom mike.
As usual, what are your thoughts? Do you think we need more safety regulations? Have you ever gotten injured on a set? If so, could it have been avoided? Also, I’d like to send a little get well to Dylan O’Brien, the actor injured on The Maze Runner: The Death Cure. Have a speedy recovery
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