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Audiences should care more about the safety of film crews

Audiences should care more about the safety of film crews

Audiences should care more about the safety of film crews
November 05
14:00 2021

The entertainment world paused on Oct. 21 when film actor Alec Baldwin discharged a prop gun on the set of “Rust,” killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.

Accidents such as these are a grim reminder that behind the scenes of these films that are meant to provide entertainment to audiences all over the world, actors and crew members can be put at risk. While many of us are keeping Hutchins’ family in our thoughts and prayers, it’s an unfortunate truth that most of us are not going to care.

Many of our favorite films have had both near-fatal and deadly accidents occur on set. The biggest similarity to what occurred on “Rust” happened during the filming of “The Crow,” when lead actor Brandon Lee was killed by a prop gun. Another movie that involved a near-fatal accident was “Now You See Me,” where actress Isla Fisher was submerged in a water tank, her hands and feet chained. She escapes the tank in the film but nearly drowned during filming.

The entertainment industry is a cruel business. Not just because actors have to face constant public scrutiny from the press or fans, but the mental and physical demands they undertake in movies go unappreciated. Some shoots can last over 18 hours a day and actors have to operate in boundaries outside of their comfort zone to add depth to a shot. While filming “The Revenant,” Leonardo DiCaprio faced possible hypothermia on a daily basis. While his performance earned critical acclaim, DiCaprio said he could name 30 or 40 sequences that were the hardest things he’s ever had to do.

Filmmaking is brilliant and ugly at the same time. Hollywood offers some of the least restricted career fields in the world. Money and pressure are enough to push someone over the edge. While audiences are entertained by a daring action sequence, the scene could have cost a stunt double their career or even their life.

Stuntwoman Heidi von Beltz was catastrophically injured on the set of 1981’s “Cannonball Run.” Her fiancé and stunt coordinator Bobby Bass goaded her to ride in the passenger seat of an Aston Martin that wove its way around oncoming cars. The car had no seatbelts, defective steering and a clutch that malfunctioned. Von Beltz was rendered paraplegic because of the accident. 

We watch films to escape from the normal routines of a busy work week. We want to unwind and immerse ourselves in a fictional story. We want to relate with characters that have qualities that remind us of ourselves, someone to root for. In action flicks, we want to see the hero take on bad guys in a fashion that results in bloodshed and calamity. While it satisfies our innate “bloodsport” desire temporarily, we must accept the fact that Hollywood often provides unsafe work environments for actors. 

We get to leave their problems at the theater, but families are left to deal with the devastation. As the audience, we live in a society that is desensitized to horrible news. Whether we consume it from a news station, radio or the internet, it’s inescapable. When accidents like this happen on set, it’s in our mind one moment and out the next. 

Though the entertainment industry is a giant, moviegoers can protest against the lack of safety film crews often face behind the camera. We can remain supportive of actors and appreciate the sacrifices they often have to make a long with stunt doubles and extras. Everyone is entitled to a safe work environment and Hollywood should be no different.

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

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Adrian Maldonado

Adrian Maldonado

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