“Gunsmith!” Yells the film’s production assistant. At that moment, the weapons professional, after having personally checked and loaded the blank pistol – called a detonator and which has a caliber slightly smaller than the real ones – hands it over to the actor. This fires towards its supposed target, but the pistol only expels gases. “Cut!”, The first production manager shouts again when he hears the detonation. The actor then turns to the master gunsmith and hands him the artifact. “That is the end of an administrative process before a shooting in a film in Spain,” explains Alfonso Ruiz de Castro, from the special effects company Soldiers Atrezzo, responsible for the weaponry of films and television series such as The paper house, Paco’s men O The last of the Philippines. For this reason, in Spain an accident with a firearm like the one carried out by American actor Alec Baldwin this Thursday, which cost the life of the film’s director of photography Rust, Halyna Hutchins, and which also caused serious injuries to the director, Joel Souza, “is simply impossible,” according to Ruiz de Castro. In America, the guns are real and can fire deadly ammunition. In Spain, on the other hand, detonators do not accept real bullets. If the trigger were pulled, they would burst.
When a director requires that replicas be used in his films, he has to adhere to scrupulous administrative protocol. The film’s producer must first request authorization from the Civil Guard, which studies the request and sends it to the Government Delegation. This, in turn, reviews the weapons documentation and checks the details of the master gunsmith. If no objections are found, the latter is in charge of guarding, reviewing, delivering and collecting the pistols, rifles or firing revolvers throughout the filming. The actor never has the weapons in his hand without the watchful eye of the professional who gave it to him.
The difference, therefore, between the Spanish and American protocols is remarkable. Ignacio Miguel, from Alucine, a company specializing in special effects, emphasizes that “an accident like Baldwin’s cannot occur in Spain because live ammunition would not enter the detonators used in filming.” The specialist insists that the blank bullets are, therefore, smaller than the real ones and also have a cap. “Of course, they only have the powder charge and no projectile that could hurt anyone. At most, a burn if it is fired from very close ”. However, in the United States the possibilities of an accident exist, as happened in 1993, when Brandon Lee, Bruce Lee’s son, died after being shot during the filming of The Raven.
In any case, for Ruiz de Castro, Baldwin’s accident is “extremely strange, because the directors are behind the cameras, unless the actor was joking with the victims and the gun was loaded with live ammunition, something impossible in our country”.
The machine guns, for their part, have a reducer that directly prevents the projectile from coming out in the event that they had been loaded by mistake. “Before they explode, than shoot,” says the weapons expert from Soldiers Atrezzo. The tanks, for their part, are reproductions of the originals, and only expel gases. “Of course, in this case there is also supervision by the authorities, the Army and the Civil Guard,” adds Ruiz de Castro.
In the case of using edged weapons, special effects companies recognize that these are made of aluminum, not iron, and in many cases retractable. If the wound is needed to be visualized, a cannula is concealed with ink that produces the effect of the cut. But nothing kills.