Casual observer ques about theatrical weapons


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Tallbald
March 20, 2011, 09:30 PM
O.K. everyone. Here's a question I have always had but never bothered to ask. Since you can't go to a movie nowadays that does not seem to be full of select fire weapons, I find myself wondering just where the producers get all these fun toys. Are they not real weapons? Are they from some corporation that rents them out for filming? If so, how are legalities handled? Are they dealer samples? Don

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Sam Cade
March 20, 2011, 09:52 PM
You don't need even need anything even approaching an actual firearm these days.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE-ZmwATS8E



But yes, there are companies which specialize in the rental of NFA weapons for movie production. Oftentimes they are SOT as well.

Animal Mother
March 20, 2011, 10:28 PM
I know its a little off topic, but that is some really great SFX in that YouTube clip.

nalioth
March 20, 2011, 10:35 PM
Robert Rodriquez (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001675/) has been using toy guns for years in his films.

No customs worries when filming in other countries.

No licensing issues for select-fire weapons.

No safety issues with blanks.


All the muzzle flashes and smoke get added with computer effects.

Sam Cade
March 20, 2011, 11:30 PM
really great SFX

Adobe After Effects. Its just a few hundred bucks.

Dr.Rob
March 21, 2011, 01:47 AM
Digital effects have made using real guns fairly rare in low budget films.

When you have Terminator or Private Ryan money to spend, that's another story.

Many 'armorers' and pyrotechnic specialists have class 2 mfg or 'dealer' licenses and specifically the film industry in MANY states can own stuff the average joe cannot.

Cosmoline
March 21, 2011, 02:38 AM
Are they from some corporation that rents them out for filming?

There are a few outfits that specialize in such matters. Traditionally I believe they used 5-in-1 blank firing guns that got around the full auto laws. That's what you see in all the Hollywood classic westerns. Blank shooting guns have continued to be a mainstay until fairly recently. The AR's you see in Scarface and Heat are blank adapted but are or were real rifles. I'm not sure about the legalities involved, but I believe they render them unable to fire real ammunition and they're maintained in the possession of a prop master or contractor.

There's also a tradition of using resin firearms, which are fare lighter weight but look real enough. So Hick's shotgun in Aliens was the resin prop until he pulled it out of the scabbard.

And of course for some films they create entirely new firearms, such as the combination revolver and rifle in "Blade Runner."

These days as you note the legalities may be more complex so they're moving towards CGI and special propane gas firing guns. I don't think they're nearly as cool. Nor do I care much for the silly sound effects.

Quiet
March 21, 2011, 08:44 AM
Depends on the prop company and how much the movie/tv production wants to pay...

Some use real MGs that have been modified for blanks.
Some use blank firing only replicas.
Some use airsoft (visual/sound effects added in later).
All use rubber replicas for stunt work.

Dr.Rob
March 21, 2011, 02:11 PM
Insurance rates jump when you get real (or blank firing) weapons on a set. Blanks can still cause harm.

Even in B-grade films from the 50's you'll see a guy shooot a blank at someone else's feet or way off to the side, and the adversary will clutch his chest, shot dead. Those 4 in 1 and 5 in 1 blanks used for Westerns had a lot of stuff coming out of the barrel.

Prince Yamato
March 21, 2011, 02:57 PM
Some guns have been in the registry, pre-86 and were owned by the production companies in California (if you use IMFDB.com, you will see that the same weapons are often used again and again in movies). Movies that are shot in Canada can use brand-new MGs, as the production companies in Canada have a special prohibited-class license to get all the fun stuff. Also, you can use computer effects as previously mentioned.

UKarmourer
April 17, 2011, 06:32 PM
Dont know about the USA but here in UK we have some companies that have special licenses to hold & modify firearms.
Recently visited one such company, they have a rather large collection of weapons that they have converted to fire blanks while looking as realistic as possible. they also have a huge collection of replica/ deacs and resin weapons.
The process for making them fire blanks is relatively simple, on most modern weapons it just seems to be a cone shaped washer in the barrel to force the gas system to cycle the weapon.

Trebor
April 18, 2011, 04:08 PM
Traditionally I believe they used 5-in-1 blank firing guns that got around the full auto laws. That's what you see in all the Hollywood classic westerns. Blank shooting guns have continued to be a mainstay until fairly recently. The AR's you see in Scarface and Heat are blank adapted but are or were real rifles. I'm not sure about the legalities involved, but I believe they render them unable to fire real ammunition and they're maintained in the possession of a prop master or contractor.

You're close, but not quite there.

The old "5 in 1" blanks were used because one blank would work in five different caliber guns used in Western movies. (The calibers were .38-40 and .44-40 rifles and .38-40, .44-40 and .45 revolvers)

The guns used in old Westerns were real guns and, since they were manual repeaters, didn't even need to be modified to fire blanks. They were still legally firearms. In fact, the ATF came down on the producers of "Wanted: Dead or Alive" because the "Mare's leg" pistol carried by Steve McQueen had not been registered as a SBR before being manufactured. (Back then they allowed the producers to simply register the cut-down rifles and pay the tax. Today it would probably be more of an issue)

Many movies use more modern semi-autos or full-autos. The guns are still legally firearms and all legal rules remain in effect. The guns are modified with barrel inserts near the muzzle to keep the gas pressure high enough to cycle the action. This inserts are very easy to remove and the status of the firearm as a "real gun" is unchanged.

The rifles and MG's in "Heat" were real guns and all laws regarding MG's remained in effect. The rental companies that provided the guns had the appropriate ATF FFL's (usually MG dealer or MG manufacturer) and a representive from the company was responsible for the guns during the shoot and had to be present at all times.

Basically, these firearms rental companies own inventories of either Pre-May transferable MG's or Post-May "Dealer Sample" MG's. If they have the SOT FFL they can even manufacture new MG's (but cannot sell them except to another SOT).

When Stembridge Guns closed 15 or so years ago hundreds of their guns, including many MG's, were sold on the open market. These were registered so it was an infusion of transferable MG's to the collector market that had all been owned by the same company for decades.

Even with big budget movies "non guns" are sometimes used. If the gun isn't shown close up it may be a rubber dummy gun. These are often carried by extras in the background. A bunch of rubber M-1 Garands were made for Saving Private Ryan and sold off later.

The trend in lower budget movies is to use Airsoft or similiar guns and add effects later. This is not only safer but much less expensive since the Airsoft don't have to be as tightly controlled as the real firearms, especially MG's.

Carl N. Brown
April 18, 2011, 04:24 PM
Movie prop guns are divided into hero guns that function (at least to fire blanks) and background guns carried by extras that are nonfunctional. And if a gun is tossed or dropped, it is usually a rubber casting, with the clatter added later by the sound effects people.

Jim Watson
April 18, 2011, 08:51 PM
Friend of mine is a war reenactor - any war, he just likes the uniforms, I guess.
When he does Nazi, he has a very sincere Kubelwagen with a good looking MG 42 that fires gas, not blanks. The gas cylinder goes in an ammo pouch and the cover for the hose will pass for an ammo belt at a distance.
For dismount, he has a fake MP38 that fires blanks, elaborately built to keep it from being converted to live ammo.

I know a couple of SOT guys doing blank shooting MGs, too.

M-Cameron
April 18, 2011, 10:18 PM
Are they not real weapons?

correct.....99.99% of the time they are prop or blank guns.....having a bunch of actors who are not well versed in firearm handling while also having to point guns at other actors would be ungodly unsafe if all the guns were real .......very rarely is there ever a need for an actual firearm on a movie set.


Are they from some corporation that rents them out for filming?

also yes, a lot of movie props come from prop warehouses that rent them out to various movies.......if it is something that needs to be custom built, just about every large movie studio has a prop department that can make just about anything that is needed.


If so, how are legalities handled?

depends largely on the country the movie is being filmed in

Are they dealer samples?

most likely not.

brettboat
April 19, 2011, 03:03 AM
The "hollywood" way of blank adapting a gun is to take a tap and die set, tap the end of the barrel for a set screw, take your set screw and, with a drill press, drill small hole in it to vent some of the gas and install it in the tapped threads. Bam, you're done.

ny32182
April 19, 2011, 04:31 PM
For the Heat fans (myself certainly included) one of the best parts of the special features is where they talk about the guns. I was always impressed with how real the sound seemed in Heat... turns out there was a good reason it sounds realistic! All those bangs and flashes were real.

I've also seen a couple parts of the first "Predator" where you can clearly see the in-barrel blank adapter in Arnold's M16 muzzle. Looks like a real flash hider on the outside, but has some restriction inside.

brettboat
April 19, 2011, 04:39 PM
Yea... A set screw or an old school M16 BFA washer that sits between the barrel and a custom made flash hider that keeps the washer more or less pinned.

Ingsoc75
April 25, 2011, 06:49 PM
All you need for a shoot em up video are:

-A decent camera
-Airsoft guns
-Post-production software (After Effects, Shake, etc)
-Video Copilot tutorials

:)

jdh
April 25, 2011, 08:57 PM
Stembridge Gun Rentals.

"Stembridge Gun rentals of Hollywood, California, was formed in about 1920 by James Stembridge and Cecil B. DeMille to supply guns to the movie industry.
The company is still in existence and is currently being run by Syd Stembridge whose father was the nephew of the founder."

M-Cameron
April 27, 2011, 08:25 PM
All you need for a shoot em up video are:

-A decent camera
-Airsoft guns
-Post-production software (After Effects, Shake, etc)
-Video Copilot tutorials

exactly....

this video here was done with nothing more than some airsoft guns and some software

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nQzs48Tt9U&feature=channel_video_title


that was done my an amature film maker.........now imagine that video if they had the money and resources of Lucas, Tarantino, or Spielberg

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