One of the main props that appears in the script is a gun. Although I’m not Art Director on the film, I am Cinematographer and Producer and I knew that Tara would have a problem finding a gun at such short notice, so I stepped in to help with this vital prop. Fortunately for the group, I knew somewhere where we could get a replica. Outside of University, I am Director Of Photography of an Independent Production company called Two Gunned Saint (TGS), based in Sheffield and London. I contacted the Producer, Daz Kaye, via Facebook:
Hope you’re well and not too stressed with Pre- Production work for TGS! Quick question- I’m shooting a short film in a week and a half (the whole shoot is a couple of days) and I was wondering if there was a gun prop I could borrow that we’d be using for TGS? I’m not too sure who is in charge of props for it? You’d have it back well before we start shooting again for TGS- It’s just needed for 1 day! If there is any chance of this at all I’d be eternally grateful! Thanks, Georgia x”
He replied to me at length and was very helpful:
No I’m not stressed because I’m not working so have time, but there’s still so much to do!
About gun props, that’s a very difficult situation to be in. Legally, only a certified Armourer or Fight Director is allowed to purchase and handle real and replica firearms. Ours ‘props’ are toys, if you want to call it that, but because they look like the real thing, to the police they’re considered as ‘replica’ firearms and must never be used in public spaces, which can be difficult sometimes when filming, unless of course you have an Armourer or Fight Director on set whilst they’re being used. Even then you’ll find that they only give out the arms to actors prior to takes and remove them immediately after the scenes are wrapped, and locked away in metal cases. Additionally you must inform the police prior to your shoot dates if you intend using any kind of weaponry on an outdoor or public area. We know they’re harmless, but replicas and decommissioned guns will still be seen as firearms to the securities.
Obviously it’s a great responsibility to everyone involved in handling firearms in productions. I’ve spoken to Josh about the possibility of issues arising from us lending you a handgun and he agrees with my concerns. However, we do want to help you and your production, and therefore Josh would like to know more details on how the gun will be used and what precautions you’ll be taking to ensure it’s protection against misuse and theft. Please call him on his mobile. We’ll expect you to be solely responsible for keeping the gun out of sight and kept in a very safe and inaccessible place all the time until it’s required for shooting (no pun intended there!). You could even carry it yourself… just don’t remove it in public!
The problem arises when other people see it and then they all want to handle and play about with it (which is normal). Some of the firearms we have are broken, usually the trigger, because the material is rather fragile, so we wouldn’t expect the gun to be abused or thrown around. In the shoot scenes don’t forget that in reality firearms are heavier than the ‘props’ so actors should be more realistic with the weight when handling them. I once had to handle and fire a decommissioned Colt Cobra revolver firing blanks, and it was so bloody heavy to hold let alone fire!
And of course we’ll need it returned before the commencement of TGS shoot on 18 November, in fact we’ll need as many as we can get hold of! Lol
Right, that’s my legal responsibilities over. I hope that it doesn’t feel as I’m having a go at you? I’m not, it’s that you’d be surprised how many people don’t take firearms seriously, and I’m just a responsible kind of person. Here’s wishing your production works out really well and I’m sure that you’ll enjoy all the hard work. 🙂
Don’t forget to ring Josh, he’s expecting your call. Take care. X”
With this information, I set about contacting my Director for TGS, Josh Fowler. I first text him then rang him discussing what methods we would need to take make sure we adhere to Health and Safety regulations. He then sent me a couple of images of the different types of gun I could borrow.
I spoke with the Director about each of the guns. It was decided that we would opt for the Beretta M92 Custom (the first image) as it has a silencer, which would make sense when somebody shoots another person but doesn’t want to be heard doing it. We decided to go for the Beretta M92 (the second image) as a second option, in case for some extraneous reason the Custom wasn’t suitable. It was decided that I would meet with Josh on Tuesday 6th November to discuss Health and Safety further and for him to give the Firearm to me.