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Danger of 'prop' gun

Discussion in 'News' started by thommyboy, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. thommyboy

    thommyboy Active Member

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    BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) - Tragedy nearly struck a group of Florida actors when authorities say a loaded gun was accidentally used during a dress rehearsal.

    It was the final practice run by a seniors theater group for their production of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men." One actor picked up a pistol he had borrowed from another cast member and fired it at the head of fellow actor Fred Kellerman.

    The bullet only grazed Kellerman's ear. The 81-year-old was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

    Just two hours after the shooting, the play went on as scheduled with another actor performing Kellerman's part.

    Kellerman plans to be back at rehearsal Friday for a musical the group is putting on.

    No charges have been filed, but the shooting is still under investigation.
     
  2. Smurphy

    Smurphy Member

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    Woh Woh who in the hell uses a real gun as a prop even if the dam thing isn't loaded? I sure as hell would not be back to work with them after that.
     
  3. WestlakeTech

    WestlakeTech Active Member

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    I don't see how people can have those problems. Safety isn't rocket science.

    A good general rule: if it actually fires, don't use it. You can get fake guns (that couldn't shoot a nerf dart) that look just like real ones. As for the sound effect, I'd put the safety of my crew, performers, and the audience above making sure the sound is realistic. I don't care what your director says, the risk isn't worth it. If indeed it was an "accident" ('cause who the heck puts bullets into a prop gun?...), investigators will likely name "stupidity" as the cause of this unfortunate circumstance.
     
  4. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    There are a lot of people out there who just don't stop and think about basics. They haven't had good theater training they are making it up as they go along. So they come across ideas like using real guns and flying people without professional help and they think, that's no problem I can do it myself. It's sad but true. We need to educate as much as possible to hopefully prevent the next generation from doing this kind of stupid stuff.
     
  5. chadillac802

    chadillac802 Member

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    It always scares me when people are using prop firearms in a live production. Even with blanks- there are still projectiles. You should never have to "fire" anything to make a gun sound effect.
     
  6. bobgaggle

    bobgaggle Well-Known Member

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    i dont know. what with cinema creating effects that seem more and more real as the years go on, theatre has fallen behind. I guess live rounds could be used as a method of making the performance more believable. Honestly, having someone get shot and then turning their back to the audience and popping a blood capsule isn't good enough anymore. The audience needs to see the real grit that theatre tries to capture...
     
  7. chadillac802

    chadillac802 Member

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    Hmm, I seem to remember somebody telling me that it is our job to make "magic" in the theater. Yes, its hard to compete with the special fx of the movies. We don't have years of computer rendered post production to make it look realistic. Remember- when using any kind of live round, you are not only putting the actors at risk, but the audience and the people backstage as well.
    A starter's pistol, is about as close as I ever got to a "live round" on stage. (It was fired by a prop runner backstage in a safe direction).
     
  8. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    I really hope this is sarcasm... :pray:

    So, we can't compete with the movies so we will actually shoot the performers. Sick. This, of course, is assuming by "Live Round" you mean actual bullets.
     
  9. ReiRei

    ReiRei Active Member

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    Didn't Brandon Lee die because someone wasn't taking proper care of their prop gun?

    And I don't even care about competing with movies, live theatre is not cinema and was never meant to be. It isn't worth risking someone's life.
     
  10. bobgaggle

    bobgaggle Well-Known Member

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    of course it was sarcasm
     
  11. LightingPenguin

    LightingPenguin Active Member

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    As stated, a blank round is still extremely dangerous. If you put a blank to your head and fire, you can die. Its happened. The blast from that blank is extremely dangerous, dont fool around. Any type of fire arm round is dangerous, and every other alternative should be considered before resorting to the real thing.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2009
  12. WestlakeTech

    WestlakeTech Active Member

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    Yeah, there was an article on this very board recently about a high school kid (I think it was in Utah) that did that very same thing.

    Again, I understand the effect, but I'd rather use a gun that is incapable of firing even blanks.
     
  13. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Last edited: Jan 28, 2009
  14. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I would argue that the blood and gore of cinema effects cheapen and weaken the intensity of a scene. Go watch the new OLD Friday the 13th movie then watch some classic Hitchcock. Hitchcock understood the psychology of fear and drama is what's unknown and in your mind. We have far more intensity and grit to offer in theater without showing gore. I saw a drama many years ago where a man was held hostage. The guy holding him hostage had a knife he was scraping against the hairs on the captive's neck. IT WAS INTENSE and far more real than anything you see in a film... you could hear ever hair... still gives me the creeps.

    Secondly remember that there are safe ways to fire weapons on stage that will impress the audience... but you have to rent the proper stage weapons and be trained by a real expert in how to use them. This doesn't cost a lot of money and the effect will be fabulous. But you have to do it the right way or people will get seriously injured.

    One last note. I've gone on and on around here about slamming a 1x4 into the deck backstage as a live gunshot sound effect. When we did "All my Sons" I had most of the audience jump in their seats every night when dad "shot himself" in the bedroom. Many nights people in the audience wept. Don't believe the hype that we have to see it to be startled or have an effect. What the eyes can't see the mind can and it's far more terrifying than reality.
     
  15. LightingPenguin

    LightingPenguin Active Member

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    For our gun effects, we blew up large hydrogen/pure oxygen (i think) balloons. made a huge sound, and when done in the window it also provided the muzzle flash, so it looked great
     
  16. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    As fun as that sounds Penguin, I've got serious issues with explosions on stage. It's too easy for a planned explosion to lead to an unplanned fire. I'm pretty sure your fire marshal wouldn't let you do that if he knew. It also might require a pyrotechnic license to do it legally... if there is a way to do it legally. Was the entire back side of the set treated with flame retardant? Did everyone in the area have PPE on? Too many things that can potentially go wrong with blowing up balloons of flammable gas.

    I'm telling you get a 1x4 about 6' long, stand it up on end. Hold it with one hand, push on it with one foot so it bows a bit and drive it into the deck. It'll make a bang that knocks your socks off without any chance of fire or people getting killed.
     
  17. LightingPenguin

    LightingPenguin Active Member

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    Indeed everyone was wearing PPE. hearing, eye, and gloves. We had a person holding a fire extinguisher at all times next to the person setting it off, in addition to a fire blanket
     
  18. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Well then I commend for following good safety protocols... :rolleyes: while doing something really stupid.

    Was it a good safe idea in the first place?
    Not so much.

    Would the Fire Marshall have shut the show down if he knew about it?
    Oh yeah.
     
  19. giwiens

    giwiens Member

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    As someone who used to get paid for exploding balloons filled with hydrogen (the joys of working at a Science Centre) I have some comments. If you have enough hydrogen inside the balloon so the balloon is about the size of an average human head you will get a good bang and flame produced but the flame won't go much beyond twice the diameter of the balloon. When we do it here at the science centre we usually have at least one meter (3.5 feet) of space around the balloon before igniting it.

    I understand the concern of catching stuff on fire with such a device and would think that there would be easier ways to imitate a gun shot on stage such as the 2x4 idea.

    The one place where this was done for great effect was a 'science of music' show that we did with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. My collegue provided the cannon booms for the 1812 Overture. It was a very awesome show.
     
  20. Anvilx

    Anvilx Active Member

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    Well it is not like they were young and foolish.
     

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