Charleston filmmakers explain difference between prop and real gun


CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — As the investigation into the deadly shooting on the “Rust” movie set continues in New Mexico, a local film studio says it never should have happened.

At Vandalia Filmworx Foundation in Charleston, filmmakers Calvin Grimm and Herbert Gardner treat their prop guns like real firearms.

That’s why they say the news of the accidental shooting on the movie set in New Mexico which left cinematographer Halyna Hutchins dead and director Joel Souza injured, has sent shockwaves throughout the film industry.

“I couldn’t really believe what I was reading at first because you would think an A-list name like that, you would be having an A-list crew,” said Calvin Grimm, co-director at Vandalia Filmworx.

Reports point to strife and poor working conditions on the Rust film set, which Grimm, an Iraq veteran, says could’ve created a perfect storm for an accident and led to a systematic breakdown of firearm protocol.

Herbert Gardner, co-producer at Vandalia Filmworx and a retired detective says there’s an industry standard when it comes to checking firearms.

“If a weapon isn’t in play in a scene, it needs to be checked by the weapons master before they lock it away and it’s in a secure place and it’s basically off of the set until that weapon is needed again, then, that weapons master unsecures it, unlocks it, checks it again before it’s ever placed on the actor or in their hand,” said Gardner.

How a live round made it into the gun that actor Alec Baldwin fired is unfathomable, says Grimm and Gardener.

Today, technology has made muzzle flash after-effects in digital editing for prop guns more realistic, and they say prop guns with blanks or rubber bullets should always be favored over a real firearm.

“I think as an industry we always need to lean forward and keep learning,” said Grimm.

Criminal charges over the shooting have not been filed as of yet in New Mexico.

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