Firearms on the set


Staff member
2021, Vol. 16, No. 4 ran an article (following my own article about mixing) that discussed firearms. I praise the author! Everything that he said was spot on. As sound mixers on the set, we are the ones with the headphones listening intently via the most sensitive mics in the world. Things that can go bang are our nemesis. I cannot stress it enough to my students: LEARN basic gun safety! It is not about being able to hit the bullseye, but being able to know how firearms work (including period weapons such as flintlocks & cap and ball "percussions") and how to keep them safe around the set. You cannot depend completely on the set armorer or prop-masters, they cannot be everywhere everytime. I cannot count how many times I have had to get up and disarm or safe an actor. Blanks can be highly dangerous, both in terms of projectile damage (blanks emit cardboard or plastic wads, along with sand & grit) but especially in terms of audio. I happen to be a firearms expert and NRA Instructor, but even with all of my gun experience -- I refuse offers to be the official gun wrangler. That job takes a lot of experience, not to mention special licensing, insurance, and access to a large inventory of prop weapons & replicas. Before I retired, a few of my last gigs were doing sound on some cable channel historical re-creations (documentary w re-enactments). I was specifically hired, not just on account of being an excellent sound mixer -- but for my deep knowledge of period weapons, and how to work safely around large groups of (armed) amateur re-enactors and a few minimally trained actors.
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