Approximately 88-90% of all film and television projects involve the use of at least one firearm. During the scenes when firearms must actually fire blank ammunition, it becomes the responsibility of the Weapons Handler to make certain that all safety procedures are precisely followed.
Many times, the director will ask for a scene involving firearms to be shot in a way that may not be inherently safe to perform. Usually this stems from a lack of intimate knowledge of various firearms blast and ejection characteristics (danger zones).
The WEAPONS CHOREOGRAPHER has the additional responsibility over the weapons handler, of formulating alternative ways for a scene or segment to be shot safely, yet affording the director the scenic value he or she desires. This involves a knowledge of weapons, their characteristics, camera angles, actor positioning and lighting.
There are many weapons handlers in the industry today but very few experienced Weapons Choreographers. Below is a list of Licenses and Permits that you as a Producer, UPM, etc., should look for when retaining the services of a weapons handler.
Entertainment Firearms Permit - This is the basic permit issued by the California Department of Justice to the entertainment industry. It allows the holder to handle and transport revolvers, semi-automatic pistols (10 round magazines or less), bolt action rifles, shotguns and semi-automatic 'hunting type' rifles with internal magazines. No Federal Firearm License (FFL) is required.
Assault Weapons/.50 caliber BMG - This permit allows the holder to possess and transport assault weapons and/or .50 caliber rifles. FFL required.
Machineguns - This permit allows the holder to possess and transport fully automatic weapons. FFL required.
Short Barrelled Rifles/Short Barrelled Shotguns - This permit allows the holder to possess and transport rifles and shotguns with shorter barrels and shorter overall lengths. FFL Required
Destructive Devices - This permit allows the holder to possess and transport weapons and devices with an inside barrel diameter of .51 caliber or larger. This includes grenade launchers, rocket launchers, etc. FFL Required.
Remember, a FULLY LICENSED WEAPONS SPECIALIST will minimize your liability, enhance safety on the set and in most cases will lower your insurance requirements and premium.
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