Despite not leading the project I feel I should have an active working knowledge of the use of firearms (real or fake) for film productions. Knowing the rules and regulations can help manage their use on the film set, so I can actively lend an additional pair of eyes during the production process. I have no doubt about Sam (Producer) as I previously worked on a film with him where fake firearms were used to mimic a robbery scene in a shop, he had gone through all the official procedures and I’m certain he will succeed again.
The management of fake firearms comes under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The producer is the primary official in coordinating sequences safely, exchanging information with others, assessing the risks and notifying any relevant bodies. When using a fake firearm it is important the person operating it is considering competent. In this scenario someone who is actively aware of the concerns it can cause being seen in public, so obviously not running around in public aiming it at people.
Some precautionary measures that are suggested in relation to fake firearms in particular:
- Clear safety exclusion zones
- All weapons accounted for at all times and kept secure
- Only pointed at persons when strictly necessary
- Weapon controller able to observe the use of the weapon
The most important consideration is to notify the police, and maintain a point of contact for them throughout the production. Keeping the police informed prevents misunderstandings from the general public, so if they were to dial 999 they would be aware that it is fake, as opposed to loads of armed officers showing up to disarm the actor.
The fact we are purely using a fake gun means it really comes down to the case of common sense. There is little physical harm it can inflict on anyone, just emotional harm if people suspect it is a real firearm. The main thing is to notify the police and only get the weapon out to use when necessary, of which members of the crew should be around to notify members of the public.