When a scene requires the use of prop guns, safety standards are established by labor unions and film studios. Industry-wide guidelines are clear: "Blanks may kill." All firearms should be treated as if loaded.
Filmings have still resulted in people being injured or killed while cameras roll, including the cinematographer who was shot to death and the director who was hurt this week.
Despite industry reforms after previous tragedies the U.S. federal workplace safety agency is still silent on the topic of on-set gun safety. Most of the states that are preferred for TV and film productions adopt a hands-off approach.
New York bans overnight shooting on movie sets, but doesn't regulate their use. Louisiana and Georgia, which have a rapidly expanding film industry, regulate pyrotechnics but do not have specific rules about gun use.
"We don’t have any firearms-related regulations." Capt. Nick Manale is a spokesperson for the Louisiana state police. The film industry has been credited with creating nearly $9600 million in local economic activity and more than 9.600 new jobs. "I don't know who does it, or if anyone does."
New Mexico has no safety laws regarding the film industry, as court records indicate that an assistant director gave Baldwin a loaded gun and said it was safe to use during Thursday's filming of "Rust." As in other states, much of the legislative debate about the industry has been focused on tax credits, incentives, and how to attract the lucrative entertainment industry.
This approach has been successful in New Mexico. New Mexico is home to several large film productions and major production centers for Netflix, NBCUniversal, and other media companies. Between July 2020 and June 2019, the state spent $623 million directly on productions, a record.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is a Democrat. She is also a strong supporter of the film industry.
Nora Meyers Sackett (the spokeswoman for the governor) stated Friday that workplace safety is paramount in all industries in New Mexico, including television and film.
Sackett stated that the federal and state workplace safety regulations applied to the incident at the Santa Fe movie ranch. We are still investigating the incident and waiting for more information to help us understand why something like this could have occurred.
Friday's search warrant revealed that Baldwin was given a loaded weapon by an assistant director. He claimed it was safe and did not know it contained live rounds. Halyna Hutchins was killed in the shooting, as was Joel Souza, director.
New Mexico safety officials said they will be looking into whether crews adhere to industry standards. Unless they are notified, the agency doesn't routinely inspect sets and studios for safety violations.
It's up to those working in productions to make sure guns are safe, and there are no federal or state regulations. Brook Yeaton is vice president of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Workers union, which represents workers in Louisiana, parts of Mississippi, and Alabama. He said that his approach to gun safety is to pretend all weapons are real, and never allow live ammunition on a stage.
They shouldn't be in the same truck. Yeaton, who has been a prop master for over 30 years, said they shouldn't be in one car. You need to ensure that your inventory is separate from the real world, and that everything on set is safe.
New York City is one of the most important film centers in the world. Productions must adhere to a code for conduct. This includes rules regarding parking, notifying neighbors, and other details. You will find sections about covering cables and obtaining permits for exotic animals in the safety rules. Gunshots are not mentioned in the safety rules under "community relations". Outdoor gunshots should be kept to a minimum between 10 p.m. & 10 a.m.
According to the Texas Film Commission's website, prop weapons must be safe and insured. The Texas governor's offices, which oversees this commission, didn't return phone calls from The Associated Press requesting information about how these rules are enforced.
California is still the capital of filmmaking. However, it requires an entertainment firearms permit. It's unclear how these permit requirements will be enforced.
Hutchins' death in Santa Fe was the latest gun-related death or injury on set.
Brandon Lee, an actor, was killed in March 1993 when he was hit in the abdomen while filming "The Crow." A makeshift bullet from another scene caused him to be shot. After the actor's death the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration issued a $84,000 fine to the production. However, the fine was reduced to $55,000 later.
Greystone Television and Films was fined $650 by OSHA in 2005 for shooting a crew member in the elbow, thigh and hand. It turned out that the balloon-breaking birdshot rounds were contained in the same box that the blanks meant to be used for rifles.
Antonio "Moe" Maestas (New Mexico state lawmaker) questioned whether safety legislation could have prevented the shooting fatality on "Rust."
He asked, "How do you disincentivize involuntary acts?"
Maestas suggested that production companies may consider using post-production effects in order to replicate the sounds and sights they rely on prop guns for.
He stated, "That's how you can make sure that this never happens again."