Saturday, October 23, 2021


Somebody's peeved.

Hey, it's your nickel. Let the games begin:

1) Actors are literally excluded, expressly, from anything to do with the weapons handling and checking process, except watching actual experts do it. You could look it up.  Page 4, point #12. My only superpower throughout this, contrary to an infinite number of so-called industry "experts", talking out their ass, is that I can read the rulebook, and they haven't.

2) I didn't call you, nor anyone else online, "Jasper and BillyBob". You are mistaken. Re-think your conclusions based on that misappraisal.

3) I didn't moderate away any of your comments. You are mistaken. Re-think your conclusions based on that misappraisal.

4) People doing their jobs is what they're paid for. No actor is paid nor expected to inspect weapons. For cause. They're not the experts, and more to the point, they're not the experts hired by and responsible to the production to do exactly that work. Re-think you conclusions based on that misappraisal.

5) People opining on how movie sets should be run, with no idea about the guiding bulletins for that, are bloviating idiots. Re-think your conclusions based on their grossly uninformed misappraisals of the situation.

6) An actor's job is to act, not check weapons. Re-think your conclusions based on the misappraisal of their job function and expertise.

7) A weapons handler is not a flunky, they're the subject-matter expert on weaponry on set. Re-think your conclusions based on that misappraisal of their job function and expertise.

8) The exact methodology for handling weapons on set designed by Hollywood has resulted in a flawless 28+-year streak of no accidental firearm deaths, from Brandon Lee's in 1993, until last Thursday, which encompasses tens of thousands of productions in movies and TV, and literally millions of blank and live rounds without a single death. The US commercial airlines haven't even done that well at safety. And what broke that streak was one utterly incompetent armorer on a low-budget p.o.s. show breaking, literally, every single rule and regulation of correct firearm and ammunition handling in the two most relevant Motion Picture Industry Safety Bulletins. Re-think your conclusions in light of the misappraisal of those facts.

9) Putting actors into the loop, where they haven't been and don't belong, is going to get people killed and injured with a predictable regularity. Re-think your conclusions based on the total misappraisal of that fact.

10) People in the motion picture industry who don't know what they're talking about, nor even possess basic familiarity with the fundamental safety guidelines adhered to in and by the industry, do not outweigh the reality of facts from people who do. Re-think your conclusions drawn from their misappraisal of those facts.

11) Putting untrained, unqualified, and incompetent actors into the loop as weapons inspectors, rather than relying on the system that excludes them to the greatest extent humanly possible, in favor of using actual weapons experts for the most critical functions right up until the moment of actual filming, in any form, is going to cost time, money, and lives. Re-think your conclusions based on a misappraisal of that fact.

12) Actors should no more check weapons used on set than should they run electrical cable for the lights, operate the camera and sound equipment, cook the meals, drive the trucks, nor perform any other function on set for which they are wholly unqualified, especially and doubly so when there are exactly trained experts for all those functions, ready to hand, at all times, at the express invitation of the people who run the show and pay the bills and salaries. Actors act. (If the audience is very, very lucky.) At anything else, they're amateurs, on a set full of professionals. Asking, let alone expecting, them to do something else is both unfair, and dangerous, for all parties concerned. Re-think your conclusion based on the total misappraisal of that reality.

I trust your expertise, in your lane. This topic is not that. Actors on set are not you at home or anywhere else. You at home are not an actor on a movie set. It's that simple.

There are rules in their world, as there are in yours, and they aren't the same for them as they are for you, nor can be. 

If you walk into a bank with a ski mask and a machinegun, you're going to get 25 years.

If Heath Ledger does it, he gets an Oscar nomination.

This is not unique to Hollywood.

If I cut someone open and take out their body parts, I get sentenced to prison for mayhem  for decades (after a lengthy psychological interview). If a doctor does that in a surgical OR, he gets a fat check, and the thanks of a grateful patient and family. Yet no one (in their right mind) runs around shrieking "No special rules for doctors!". If they did, at best, we'd laugh at them, and at worst, we'd throw rocks and fruit at them, or lock them up in a mental institution, and rightfully so. They'd be psychotic.

I'm really sorry for all the shrieking harpies upset that of the seven or more obvious, egregious, and criminally negligent reasons someone died on that set last week, not a single one attaches to any actions or failures on the part of anti-gun @$$hole Baldwin, and that instead almost every single one of them clings to the grossly incompetent actions of a nitwit less qualified to run weapons on a movie set that she is to be an astronaut or a brain surgeon. But facts are stubborn things, and the fact is Baldwin did nothing wrong.

If someone sells me a baked potato, but it's actually a bomb, just because I put it into the microwave and pushed the button doesn't make me a mad bomber, even when it goes off and kills people, and no matter how many people scream otherwise on the internet. Don't be one of them. Arguing to the contrary is the position people are in right now.

I warned people from the outset not to let their dislike for a thoroughly dislikable man color their judgement and opinions about what should happen, or who did what. In vain.

I say it again, with the further counsel not to be psychotic, and instead recognize that an actor performing or rehearsing on a movie set on a Western, is not you in front of a bank on your block.

Embrace that, instead of trying to force Reality to conform to the desires of your heart, in vain.

To put it in its most simple terms, Captain Ahab wasn't the hero of Moby Dick.


billo said...

Sounds to me like you make sense, but what you are really doing is describing a long history of a bad industrial standard. The biggest issue with what you've said is that your basic premise seems to be that it is monumentally difficult to learn how to check a weapon. You state "Absolutely goddamned right I do; asking any actor to check a firearm is like asking a baby to check safety on a live grenade."

The problem with that is that it's easy to teach a child how to check his or her weapon. The first thing I learned when my father gave me my first weapon at six years old was how to check it and how to clear it. Every time I have picked up a firearm in front of my father, uncle, cousins, etc. they watched to make sure I did. Actors spend a lot of time learning things for their work -- lines, actions,mannerisms, etc. An actor can certainly learn how to check and clear the firearm he or she is using in a scene. That's not a 40 hour training course, and it's not rocket science. And even if it were a 40 hour training course, that's within the budget of a zillion million dollar movie.

Yes, I saw the picture of the weapon involved, and yes, I could learn how to check it and clear it in about two minutes. Anybody could. Clearing a weapon is not rocket science. The fact that someone shooting a weapon is not expected to do this *very simple* thing represents a systematic problem with the industry.

There's a similar problem in my profession, that of pathology. It is a catastrophic problem when people are given the wrong type of blood in transfusion. In order to avoid that, you check the blood type that's dispensed against the order and against the patient identification.

But here's the thing. There is an irreducible error in checking those things. Worse, the more you threaten and intimidate lab folk and tell them if they make a mistake they'll be fired and such, that stress increases mistakes. So, the only two ways you can really reduce error is automation and redundancy -- but it's the redundancy that makes the difference. If a worker has a 0.1% error, then having two layers of checkers will give you a 0.01% error and three layers 0.001%. Every time I've investigated a death involving transfusions, it turns out that there were failures at three or four layers in this kind of checking and redundancy.

If someone were to die because of such a mistake involving blood transfusion, it would sound silly to say "Well, we only have these kinds of mistakes every 1000 transfusions, and it's just not the job of the stupid nurse to look. Nurses aren't trained as laboratory scientists." That's called malpractice.

The same thing is true here. You certainly can't argue that if Mr. Baldwin had received a 10 minute training in checking and clearing his weapon and had been instructed to check whenever he got his weapon, that this would likely have happened anyway. It likely would not have.

Thus, while I do not doubt that you are correct that it is not industry standard for a shooter to check his weapon -- it should be. And even actors can be trained to do it for the few weapons they use each day.

Pat H. said...

I love when amateurs attempt to explain the professions of others to those others.

I'm an OR registered nurse (retired now). I wouldn't attempt to explain ER nursing to you or any other ER nurse. Very few people know what an OR nurse does and what they do varies from hospital to hospital. I worked at one hospital for over 13 years, but before I began there I spent several wonderful days at Alameda County Hospital, who provide full service to the Oakland, CA knife and gun club. Thrilling, just thrilling.

I always thought that there were no jobs out there that I couldn't learn to do, except one. That one was ACTING.

Anonymous said...

Awful lot of weird pecker measuring going on in these threads

Feral Ferret said...

Although I haven't worked in movies, I have worked in television. The majority of the people whose job it is to appear in front of the camera are only there because they can read/memorize and look good. Some of the dumbest people I've known were news anchors and commercial actors. When shooting commercials, we always made sure a competent crew member was operating any special effects, especially anything pyrotechnic. I swear that the bigger the ego, the dumber they are. The armorer was such a bad screw up that a bunch of the crew walked off. These people would not have risked such a thing unless they were certain that there was a very significant danger. It would have been professional suicide otherwise. I just wish that no one had died to prove them right.

Nick Flandrey said...

If someone were to die because of such a mistake involving blood transfusion, it would sound silly to say "Well, we only have these kinds of mistakes every 1000 transfusions, and it's just not the job of the stupid nurse to look. Nurses aren't trained as laboratory scientists." That's called malpractice.

--if I may, you are missing a critical understanding. The actors are PRETENDING at competence, they are PRETENDING to shoot, and to handle the guns. They can learn to manipulate the hardware, and point it generally where it should be pointed, but everything else is PRETEND. They have no competence WHATSOEVER outside of pretending.

The failure was PRIOR to Baldwin pulling the trigger, an action he had every right to expect would do NOTHING. In your analogy, the actors are the PATIENT not the nurses. The people who are doing the actual checking are the armorer, the safety warden, the armorer's assistant, and anyone and everyone ELSE who is delegated to do so. They are the competent people, and they are responsible. Everything the actors do is PRETEND and they are not expected nor wanted to do more than their job- pretending in a convincing way. If they show an interest, and seem reasonably competent outside of pretending, all the better, and just about any of the departments are happy to explain what they do and what it does for the production (if they have the time.)

The production doesn't WANT the actor to "check and clear" the prop gun. They want him/her to accept a tool from their employer, and use it in the way the employer directs them to do, while following the rules the employer has communicated for handling that tool. You absolutely DO NOT want the actor to "clear" the prop you just gave him minutes before the scene. You DO NOT want the actor to be manipulating the 'loaded' (ie properly readied) prop until cameras are rolling. You don't want him making any changes to the prop you provided at all. Those things are reserved for the specialist expert, who FAILED in this case.

It might really be hard to believe that actors in general are as bad as all that. They are. Imagine your worst experience in a room full of new shooters, only there is no 'safe' direction, no firing line, half are scared to do anything with the gun, and the other half is sure they already know all there is to know, guick drawing on each other, flagging the whole group, dropping weapons out of nervousness, ejecting mags, cycling rounds, any of the terrifying bad behaviour you've heard stories about... and that is the probable result of letting actors fat finger their prop guns. Because they are almost all 'new shooters' and they live in a fantasy world where they can do anything.


Aesop said...

The process you describe as "bad industrial standard" had a flawless, zero-death safety record until last Thursday, stretching back 28+ years, and involving some of the hairiest, scariest, rootingest, tootingest, shootingest gun-fests ever put on film. You might as well tell me the Sistine Chapel could be improved upon.

Actors don't "learn" things for their work, they learn to "fake" things for their work, in most cases going back to silent film days, knowing just enough to achieve the on-camera verisimilitude of the real thing. Tom Cruise looks great in cockpit, and John Travolta has his own air fleet, that he can fly, but the cold hard fact is it takes three years of time-tested and excruciatingly difficult weed-out training with a brutal pass-fail calculus to make even one carrier-qualled naval aviator, and neither one of them has accomplished that.
But they look good in flight suits.
One of these things is not like the other.

You think you can teach an actor to check firearms?
Special Forces weapons qual takes months. For guys, on average, with 30 more IQ points than the average actor has.
Making movies isn't using one gun, one day.
It's not learning so you can get it right with one pistol, or shotgun, or rifle.
It would be learning a yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge number of guns so well you couldn't get it wrong, ever, which is not the standard they even approach in their acting, FFS.
Which is the entire point of using an armorer, who does nothing but guns, guns, guns, for years.

And FTR, the safety record the right way is one accident in something like 10,000,000 such opportunities.
That's a 0.00001% failure rate. That's a batting average of .999 for every player in the major league baseball, for ten solid years, with only one out. The only way games would end would be by time limit, and they'd all be the top of the first inning, for a decade.
That's an archer shooting 100 arrows an hour, 24/7/365, for 11 years with no breaks or sleep, and never missing the bullseye.
You simply aren't going to improve on that number with anything as long as humans are involved in the process.
And adding actors to the loop will make it worse, not better.
But add one incompetent fuck-up prop wannabe, who if she'd only followed the exact Safety Bulletin protocols I watched hundreds to thousands of times, could have solved all of this two days ago, and we'd still be accident-free.

It's that simple.

If Mr. Baldwin had received a class on checking a muzzle-loading cap-and-ball black powder revolver, it likely would have been not a 10-minute class, but an all-day one, and the very act of him checking the weapon properly would have necessitated the armorer re-checking that he hadn't, in fact, found entire new ways to fuck up, including loading an empty gun, in the process, every time you handed him the weapon.
It would be safer and less time-consuming on a live set to teach him to juggle lit dynamite sticks.
Now multiply that times two, three, five, or ten co-stars in a shootout scene, on a production budget that's already shoestring thin on cash, and rush-rush-rush (the crew's own words) on time for work.

This is why anyone with a choice avoids low-budget work if they can: you get the crafts people either grass green and incompetent, or the old-timer fuck-ups no one else wants, in every position. They are the Hollywood equivalent of the Island Of Misfit Toys. It's like a soccer team of blind retards with seizures, practicing in a minefield, by a cliff.

It's only fun to watch if you're not on the field.

Cederq said...

Are we gonna have to separate you two?

Aesop said...

That's why I'm sunseting the post. ;)

I'll leave the comments up, but you'll see a big blank where the post used to be, per the message on the main post.

If I hadn't had to be at work (I'm watching the psychs sleep, so I can get to the 'net) I'd probably have worked out something even less troublesome.

Mike-SMO said...

I have discussed the Baldwin incident and been one of those holding that "theater" is different. According to script, individuals have firearms pointed at them. Some descriptions suggest that Baldwin pointed the firearm at the woman while she was at a "remote" equipment location and not part of a recording or rehearsal situation. Does he not merit some responsibility for putting her at risk?

Thus, there seems to be an aspect of the Baldwin incident that falls in a middle ground between personal and professional. Mr. Baldwin received a firearm that was called "cold". I read and am told, that if the script called for a shot toward the camera, the camera operator would have been in a protected position. In one of the many links I followed, it was mentioned that digital equipment was operated from a remote location. The description of the event suggested that both victims were were at that "remote" location, not at a targeted camera location so that Baldwin had "playfully" targeted the woman when he pulled the trigger. Thus he wasn't performing or rehearsing, but was "playing". That action would have violated the firearms rule of not pointing a weapon at anything you didn't plan on destroying.

I'll grant you that the totality suggests that the prop/safety man or the armorer screwed up, however does Baldwin merit some "responsibility" for targeting the woman as a "prank"?

Avalanche said...

No one seems to mention that in all this 'actor should've checked the gun' disagreement, that expecting ANYone 100% unfamiliar with (and hating) guns to be able to 'check' to see whether or not, by some stupid mistake -- or malicious action -- a "live" round was put into a prop gun. If it's an old-timey revolver for an old-timey Western, do you WANT the idiot-lib, 95-IQ actor to dump the rounds and be able to TELL if they are all blanks? And then reload it safely and correctly?

Or is that 100% the job of the armorer? (As Aesop keeps pointing out!)

Do you not remember some years back, the newscaster pointing the camera into a gutter at the scene of a shooting and exclaiming "There is a rubber bullet" -- at a damned foam EARPLUG!?!?!? You want THAT twit handling a real gun?!

(I WILL admit to a flash of: gee, I wonder if one of the very angry folks walking off the set because of safety concerns happened to carry, and switched out a blank for a live round from his carry gun. That supposed-competent armorer, in an interview from before this film, talked about her (recent) FIRST and only major film and said she had to get her father to help her figure out how to use/manage/handle blanks, cause SHE NEVER HAD!. Her words ...)

Dag Andy . said...

I'm with Aesop

C said...

Aesop is right. You can't apply the four rules to this because acting requires you to ignore all of the four rules. Not to mention the sheer number of different firearms used in production.

"Just because someone else is paid to do something doesn’t absolve you of responsibility."

This part is absolutely 100% bovine excrement. Anyone who has worked in a factory or in any sort of trade would know this. If the machine that makes the widgets breaks down you are not responsible for the loss time in production. If the guy driving the forklift doesn't take the pallet of properly staged, properly packaged, and properly labeled finished widgets to the loading dock you are not responsible for a late shipment. If you frame a house and it burns down from an electrical problem you are not responsible for it. If you plumb a house and part of the foundation settles separating pipes flooding it you are not responsible.

I blew the engine on a humvee. I did all the required checks. Vehicle continued to run hot. Reported it, filled out the proper form, and took it to maintenance. Maintenance did a look over, said everything I reported was normal, and signed off on my paperwork. Cooling system crapped out entirely. Guess who didn't have to pay for a humvee?

Marty said...

OK, I'm a bit confused, Does a hot weapon mean it has a blank in the cylinder, and a cold weapons mean it's unloaded? Is that right?
Because I can't understand when they would use a live round. If ever.
Is it possible that someone loaded the pistol before it even arrived on the set? Perhaps someone took it out to the range? And the Armourer and prop master missed the live round because it was inline with the hammer and not observable and they just verified it was ™empty" by looking at the other chambers, not wanting to spin the cylinder?

Or was it because it is a cap and ball gun, and they have bullets in the chambers for close up shots, and they use other pistols without them for firing blanks?

Greg said...

I would like to encourage Aesop to NOT deep six this post. I remember clearly when "fisking" became a word, and WHY. It's your blog, and you may do as you wish, but I find this sequence of posts, and the comment threads to be of enormous value, for many reasons.
My area of expertise, until I retired, was Immunohematology, Blood Bank for the civilians. As pointed out in an earlier comment, from someone who said they were in pathology, there are many layers of redundancy leading to a transfusion. Every single investigation of a Sentinal Event of a transfusion reaction will demonstrate someone, or multiple someones, skipping or ignoring one or more steps in that redundancy. In a crisis, there is a Massive Transfusion Protocol, which is simply O-negative packed cells, and AB plasma, until a crossmatch is completed and checked. There are risks in every transfusion, and I wouldn't want autologous blood (my own, stored pre-surgery) if I had a choice about it.

Aesop said...


HOT = loaded, with blanks, or live rounds, depending on the expressly discussed plan
COLD = completely empty

The A.D. handed Baldwin the weapon, and told him and everyone on set it was "COLD".
It was no such thing.

I'll see what workarounds I can accommodate. My desire wasn't to take Divemaster to task in perpetuity. He's a good guy, and a smart guy, and I value his input, even on this topic, as well as any number of others where he would know far more than I. This subject just isn't one of them, but however much we disagree, I didn't slight him, embargo his posts, or make the arguments suggested for the reasons suggested.

And comments under this post on the topic won't be touched by me, whatever happens to the title and body of the OP.

Robert said...

Greg @ 1049:
"I wouldn't want autologous"
Did you mean "would"? Blame autocorrect. :-)

Charley Waite said...

Do people really expect Robert De Niro to get his M4, check the chamber THEN unload each of his 30 round magazines full of blanks to make sure they are indeed blank rounds before he does a shootout scene?
How practical is that in a set where every second costs money? Guy is sitting in his trailer, is called when it’s time to rock.

Aesop said...


There was no such "playful" targetting.
A scene was being rehearsed.

The DP, 1st AC, and director were all grouped around the camera, where they could best see the shot they were planning.
Baldwin pointed, cocked, and fired a supposed "COLD" weapon at the camera, which turned out to be not only wrongly loaded, but loaded with a live round, which flew over the 1st AC's head, punched into the DP and through her, and then struck the director behind her.


The number of fuck-ups that requires of Baldwin is zero.
The number either actually performed, and/or actually neglected, by the armorer, by the numbers:

1) Failure to maintain possession of the weapon and put it in the actor's hand before the rehearsal.
2) Failure to remove a live round from the weapon before even bringing it to the set for rehearsal.
3) Failure to check that it was empty before rehearsal.
4) Failure to have someone else double-check to ensure it was completely empty before rehearsal.
5) Failure to ensure the actor witnessed the check and double check before handing it to them.
6) Failure to account for all live rounds previously loaded, and keep them, and/or any powder and ball materials for live shots completely separate from rehearsal weapons.
7)Failure to keep weapons capable of firing live rounds entirely segregated from weapons for use on sets where firing live rounds was neither practical, advisable, permissible, legal, nor discussed beforehand.
And probably
8) Failure to have a full and proper Safety Meeting before the rehearsal, to discuss the plan of events, identify danger areas, discuss emergency procedures, and go over chain of command on the rehearsal and the shot therefrom.
That would be on the 1st Assistant Director, who runs all operations on set until the director says "Action", and after he says "Cut", and who, along with the Key Grip, is directly and legally responsible for the safe operation of the crew on the set at all times.

Being that this was a non-union low-budget production, I'll wager dollars to donuts the production also did not have

9) a trained and equipped on-set medic (EMT, EMT-P, RN, or anything like) standing by in direct proximity to render aid in the event of the exact emergency that occurred, nor any other, which for any union production, and even most non-union ones where firearms are in use, is a requirement.
That fuck-up is laid at the feet of the Unit Production Manager, whose exact job it would be to hire or contract for such services, and who evidently failed to do any such thing, probably for budgetary reasons.

It was reported "the crew" rendered aid after the accident.
Not "the Medic/paramedic/nurse".
(We haven't even gotten started on that sub-topic, kids. Stay tuned.)

That's nine open and flagrant violations of standard set operations protocol.
Gonna be a lot of red asses by the time this gets to trial.

And still, nota bene, none of this washes up to Baldwin's feet, no matter how many shrieking harpies wish it were otherwise. His share as producer is going to comprise civil liability, i.e. money, payable to the victims and families of the injured and covered in any case by insurance.

Anonymous said...

Thus far I've taken the opposing viewpoint (to Aesop's) because in no other setting I can think of is the person handling and firing the gun absolved of responsibility as they apparently are in a movie/tv setting. I've read and understand the stated rationale here for the way these rules are setup such as they are. That leads me to say that if actors, on the average, are very nearly functional retards (and I can easily think of exceptions of actors who are clearly outliers to that given their obvious intelligence), then in this age of CGI and advanced post production techniques, no real, functional guns should ever be allowed use in production.

Really, if these people (big name stars) are that hopelessly stupid they can't be taught to the same safety standards all us other mere mortals are expected - and legally required - to meet, then they don't get to play with the real thing. If that hurts the production values, then either find capable talent or deal with adding the visual and sound effects in post and quit your bitchin'. Its not as if most on screen gun battles are all that realistic to begin with. Most are dramaitzed for reasons if style and effect. What's a little more fakeness at that?

As to the impracticality imposed by the added time needed to train impulsive dumbfucks like baldwin in proper gun handling, tough shit. Shave some other part of the budget and make it work. Welcome to the reality of running a business. Big companies (and studios are BIG companies) have to deal with sunk costs for bullshit all the time now. They all go in willingly for diversity training, anti-harrassment training and all kinds of other time wasting garbage that costs lots of payroll hours but has no tangible return. Hell, most companies publicly stroke their egos over having wasted the time and money to do this stupid crap. If the studios want to be paragons of wokeness (and they clearly do given their output), let them choke on that dick of compliance costs good and hard.

Yes, I'm fruitlessly arguing how things ought to be against how they are. That probably makes me a fool, but I'm tired of sanctimonious pricks in high places getting license to create exceptions to the rules everyone else is required to follow just because they have the juice to make it happen. If their product sinks on the added cost of having to do it right, then their product sucks - which it already clearly does anyway in so many cases - and isn't fit for purpose. Shut off the lights and cameras and tilt down the hillside hollywood sign and be done with it. A bunch of whiny, greasy, underhanded subversive fucks anyway. I wont miss 'em.

Aesop said...

It's got to do with not their job.
It's got to do with time is money.
It's got to do with specialization is how things work.
The subject-matter expert on firearms, on a production is the Propmaster, or a designated armorer/weapons handler, and their assistants. NO ONE ELSE. EVER!.
By custom, practice, black-letter law industry agreement, and common sense.

Actors are subject-matter experts on Acting. Period. Full Stop.

I know these concepts really aren't too hard to learn, because they teach them to actors in about 5 seconds.

Anyone who cannot or will not grasp them isn't arguing against "special rules", they're arguing against reality.

"Doctors get to cut people open and take their bodily organs out. If I do that, it's called mayhem. We must stop special rules for doctors!"

Think about how stupid and asinine that position sounds, which is exactly what you're saying because you don't like actors, and cannot think rationally about the entire topic, and then take Will Rogers' sage advice: "Never pass up a good opportunity to shut up."

Kindly keep your psychosis flag folded and stored in your own basement. No one wants you to fly it.

But at last, we come to the 800-pound gorilla in this entire discussion.
Some of you are just as fucking nuts as Alec Baldwin is, and you hate the competition.


Now move on.

Anonymous said...

Just thought I would add that I live in Indianapolis and have never once seen a driver exit his Indy car during a race to check the tires on his car. Believe it or not, he relies on the expertise of his pit crew to service and maintain his vehicle.

Joe in PNG said...

Call it Dunning-Kruger Amnesia. Let's say there's an incident in an field where I'm an expert, and get irate because people who know nothing about it are making suggestion on how to do it safely- and are usually suggesting things we're already doing, things that the idiot who goofed up didn't.

Then, an incident happens in some other field that I have no real experience in or knowledge of, and I start making suggestions about how they can do it better.

The fact that outside people are stupid when making suggestions about my job, but I am also an outside stupid person when making suggestions about someone else's don't occur in my brain.

Greg said...

Just to reply to Robert @1150: not a typo or autocorrect MALF. I would NOT want even autologous blood, even if I went to the hassle and expense (and you can bet it's not cheap) of donating said units prior to surgery. There are risks involved in ANY transfusion, the most likely being septic contamination of the plumbing somewhere along the line, or environmental storage screwups. I could rant all day about physicians being entirely too cavalier about transfusion (It's a foreign tissue dude!), but it's off topic in this thread.

Robert said...

Greg @ 312:
OK, thanks for the reply. But you would prefer your own blood over a stranger's, yes?

Reltney McFee said...

Aesop: personally I am every bit as knowledgeable ref movie production, as I am regarding navigation for mars probes (ie: zero, if I studied hard and received tutoring).

So, since you have, ya know, oh, WORKED in the industry, it is categorically impossible for me to know more of this topic than you do.

Yep, I loathe Baldwin. Yep, it grates me that his not applying the 4 rules resulted in someone dying/getting injured.

YET! His checking the weapon is every bit his job, as my checking the sterility of the suture prior to suturing a wound, is mine.

In short, as you have said MULTIPLE times, specialization, and relegating activities to those who are subject matter experts.

Which works well, until malpractice happens.

As you have said.

Aesop said...

His only "check" must be visual only, and only if he chooses to do so.
He is under no legal obligation to do so.

The armorer is solely and specifically obligated to ensure everything is correct, and safe, every time.

Wishing it were otherwise is no use.

John Wilder said...

Facts are stubborn things. I was wondering about your take on this, and I figured I'd see it when I logged on. Not disappointed. Top-notch analysis and logic, as always.

Reltney McFee said...

Agree. (It appears I was awkward in phrasing. I apologize.)As a mid-level, *my* job is cleaning the wound, sterile technique, and suchlike.

As an actor, as you have noted, Baldwin's job is to convincingly portray his character.

Not my job to sterilize the instruments.


Mike-SMO said...

I may be wandering in the zone between "legal" and "common sense". I grant you that the armorer screwed the pooch on this one, HOWEVER,

1) Whatever the "legality", The actor is right where the action is. If a firearm is pronounce "cold" a visual check should revel no rims, caps, or brass. I don't expect an actor to dump every magazine, but if a modern semi-automatic or automatic firearm is "cold", any brass is a "flag on the play", i.e. a big problem. Yeah, it is someone else's job, but since my eyes, ears, or fingers are on the line, it makes sense to look for the obvious. Baldwin obviously didn't bother to look.

2) It is my understanding that safety mandated that when a firearm is fired or even pointed at or near a camera, either the camera operator in in a protected position or, the camera is operated from a remote position. The incident description is still pretty vague, but if this was a rehearsal in which Baldwin "took his mark" so that the camera, lighting, or costume could be checked, what gave Baldwin the idea that cocking a firearm, pointing it at an individual and pulling the trigger was acceptable? Even if the armorer did his/her job, even if Baldwin has done a visual firearm inspection. What? "Sh*t Happens", which is why the obsessive rules exist. "Ooops" at Mach One or better really sucks. Maybe "common sense" only gets to be a factor in civil suits.

I suspect that a full-on rehearsal or a live-camera-shoot would not be adequately covered in state law, but Really!? Visually checking the obvious seems "obvious" and violations of "common sense" would seem to make someone culpable. Even the children in my "circle" know that "a firearm is ALWAYS loaded". Looks like Lord Baldwin is too dim to portray a child, but is he "culpable"?

Walter Coast said...

The Actors' Equity Association's guidelines state that, "Before each use, make sure the gun has been test-fired offstage, and then ask to test fire it yourself. Watch the prop master check the cylinders and barrel to be sure no foreign object or dummy bullet has become lodged inside." 

If Mr. Baldwin did that, he is at the least negligent. Actor or not, he is responsible for the outcome when he points a firearm at a person and pulls the trigger.

If he did not do that, he may be reckless. He may be fully aware that it is a requirement but he ignored the risk.

This was not an accident. This is negligence or recklessness (criminal negligence in New Mexico).

As for the girl in charge of the weapons, something does not ring true. She grew up with her father in the business for 50+ years yet she seems to be clueless rather than competent. Is the media covering for Mr. Baldwin in the same way "Prop Gun Misfire and Kills Cinematographer"?

It was not a proper gun, it didn't misfire, and people rather than guns kill people.

Nonetheless, I predict a leftist Santa Fe prosecutor will not charge Mr. Baldwin with any crime unless his recklessness was so bad he is left with no choice.

This would be a very different outcome from a guy protecting his family in his own home.

Yankee Terrrier said...

You did the airlines a disservice, in those 28 years each day were thousands of flights in all kinds of weather with more variables per flight than any day of filming all scenes that day combined. Comparing watermelons with turds. Bad comparison.

Aesop said...


There is nothing common sense about making movies.
The visual check you mention was to be done by the armorer, and potentially, but not mandatorily, witnessed by the actor. Since it's blisteringly obvious the armorer never did any such visual check, there was nothing for Baldwin to witness, even if he'd wanted to, which is exactly the kind of lackadaisical attitude and slipshod non-adherence to basic on-set firearm safety procedures that prompted the entire union camera department crew to walk off the set that morning.
None of that is Baldwin's fault, nor responsibility, in any role on the production, actor nor producer.

Re: #2. Direction from the director and/or DP. There is no report of them diving for cover, or anyone yelling "Cut!" when he did that, which inevitably leads to the conclusion it was a planned move. Common sense, in this instance, is that everyone present put their trust in the grossly mistaken belief that the armorer wasn't a walking abortion better suited to barrista at Starbuck's than armorer on a movie production.

Movie industry safety procedures with firearms, when observed and followed to the letter have a literally flawless safety record: zero accidental deaths in over 28 years. Find me any industry anywhere that can match that. Doubly so considering that during that time, you had movies like I mentioned several posts back: Saving Private Ryan, Heat, Ronin, the entire Expendables and John Wick franchises, etc. ad infinitum, with tens of thousands of rounds fired, and hundreds of people down to extras firing weapons even full auto, and no one killed. Baldwin did literally nothing that Keanu Reeves hasn't done up close and personal hundreds of times in just his last three movies.
What changed? Reeves was working with consummate professionals (Wick director Chad Stahelski was Reeves' stunt double for The Matrix, and I have a photo of he and I from our FX work on Matrix II and III; Baldwin, by contrast, was working on a flick so low on the production totem pole they were using an undisguised total dumbass for one of the most critical production roles there is: armorer. And that misplaced faith in her non-existent capabilities got their DP killed. Nothing else, and no one more bears any additional burden for than outcome.

Baldwin did nothing anyone else wouldn't have done, except be on something about a red hair above being "student film".

There are 60-150 or more professionals on any film production.
If the craft service guy screws up, maybe there's no cream for the coffee, or no jam for the bagels.
But when the armorer screws up, someone gets hurt. Or dead.
Exactly what happened, and exactly what the union camera crew tried to tell the production office was going to happen. And then it did.

Aesop said...

@Walter Coast,

Actor's Equity covers stage productions, not motion pictures. If this were a Broadway (or even off-Broadway) play, anything they say would matter.
It isn't that, so their approach is irrelevant to this incident, in total.
CSATF/IATSE, DGA, PGA, and Teamster rules are covered on the MPIWSB, which I've linked to directly at least three times in these posts. Nothing else anyone feels or says matters.

Baldwin is only culpable if something happens for which he and he alone bears responsibility.
Just like you.

You drive your car, in perfect order, into a crowd of kids? Your fault.
You drive your car into the same crowd of kids, and it turns out the mechanic forget to connect the brakes to the master cylinder? His fault. You walk.

Everyone wants to opine their "Yeah, but" answers, as if their take trumps Hollywood's ironclad Safety Bulletin, with a flawless track record. As if they ever could.

It doesn't work like that, and it won't. The only thing driving that isn't a search for justice, it's a conclusion ("Baldwin sucks balls, so he's obviously guilty") in search of justification.

There are, indeed, any number of ways to pin blame on Baldwin in this incident. The trouble is, none of them have panned out in reality.

Everyone wants to claim negligence on Baldwin's part.

IANAL, but this is part of my personal professional responsibility as well, let alone the decades I was the guy on set in case anything like this had occurred on my set, to my crew:

To demonstrate negligence, whether we're talking me as a nurse, or Baldwin as an actor with a firearm on set, there are two elements you must establish:
1) Did X have a duty to act?
2) Did X fail to perform that duty?
Meet that legal hurdle, and you can collect your contingency fee, or your scalp as a prosecutor from the defendant.
Fail, and you're sucking wind.

Why will every attempt to make this Baldwin's problem fail that standard?
Because, in excruciating detail, the Safety Bulletins, which he is responsible to adhere to as an actor (and producer) by custom, long-standing practice, obligation as a member of two signatories: the Screen Actor's Guild, and the producer's consortium, and by legal obligation under federal labor law, which bulletins specify in no uncertain terms that he has no duty to act in any of the ways that would accrue his personal culpability.
No duty to act? Negligence is impossible.
All the duties in this incident apply to the Prop master, or the designated weapons handler.

Game. Set. Match.

Aesop said...

@Yankee Terrier,

Not really.
Airlines have done a tremendous job of operating safely, but they've absolutely accidentally killed more people with airplanes than Hollywood has ever accidentally killed with firearms.

When I was growing up, they dropped two airliners off LAX into the Pacific Ocean in the same week.

It is what it is.

Yes they carry more people more miles than anything, but to hear people talk about one act of negligence last week, you'd think Alec Baldwin had used a minigun on the bleachers at the World Series, for every game.

Nick Flandrey said...

She grew up with her father in the business for 50+ years yet she seems to be clueless rather than competent.

--you are making the same mistake the production company made when they said "She grew up around guns" as a justification to hire her. Proximity doesn't make for knowledge or competence. Someone can sit in the operating room for a lifetime and that doesn't make them a surgeon.