Former paratrooper warns even a BLANK round can be deadly if a gun accidentally catches debris in its barrel – as he claims long film set working hours made a mistake like the death of Halyna Hutchins ‘inevitable’
- Ex paratrooper said US film crews work long hours and mistakes are inevitable
- Paul Biddiss, 52, warned use of blank rounds could have resulted in Rust tragedy
- He claims a gun can be deadly if it accidentally catches debris in its barrel
A former paratrooper turned adviser on Hollywood blockbusters warned even the use of blank rounds could have resulted in the Alec Baldwin shooting tragedy.
Paul Biddiss, 52, said crews on US movies are working such long hours that mistakes such as the Rust shooting were inevitable.
He claimed if a gun had accidentally caught debris in its barrel it could have discharged the material to deadly effect. He added the massive forces generated by expanded gas in the gun’s firing mechanism could be deadly to somebody stood within ten metres of the muzzle.
Production personnel are also being asked to double-up their responsibilities in a bid to cut costs which has increased the likelihood of fatal accidents, claimed Mr Biddiss.
Paul Biddiss, 52 (Pictured) said crews on US movies are working such long hours that mistakes like the Alec Baldwin shooting tragedy are inevitable
The former paratrooper claimed if a gun had accidentally caught debris in its barrel it could have discharged the material to deadly effect. He added the massive forces generated by expanded gas in the gun’s firing mechanism could be deadly to somebody stood within ten metres of the muzzle
In a move earlier this year, Hollywood production crews voted overwhelmingly to authorise industrial action to secure more reasonable working conditions for craftsmen and technicians, including armourers and weapons advisers.
They are demanding rest periods, safer working hours and meal breaks.
Mr Biddiss, who worked with Alec Baldwin and Tom Cruise on the Mission Impossible films, said: ‘American friends of mine say they were waiting for this to happen, that it was only a matter of time and I agree.
‘The US sets are not as tightly regulated in terms of working hours as sets in the UK, which is dangerous from a safety perspective. The crews are not getting much sleep, so they’re not as clear-headed as they should be – and when you’re working with weapons that can be fatal. I’m so saddened by the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Lessons must be learned. It is too early to confirm what went wrong but it could be that something like a small stone got into the barrel of the gun and was fired out by the pressure of the blank round or there was a mix-up over ammunition.
‘People think blanks and prop guns are perfectly safe but they’re not. You don’t want to be anywhere inside ten metres of the muzzle. I don’t know how close the victims were on this occasion.
‘Importantly, people shouldn’t blame Alec Baldwin. His job is to act, he’s not paid to check the weapons are safe – that’s someone else’s job and it is a very important job which is sometimes undervalued. From memory, I cannot think of any incident similar to this shooting taking place here.’
Any weapons on a movie set are the responsibility of the film crew’s armourer. Mr Biddiss said to save money, special effects crews are sometimes asked to fulfil the armourer role – leading to staff struggling with dual responsibilities.
Live rounds are never brought onto sets as it is simply too dangerous to use them in filming. But blank rounds can be dangerous in the wrong settings. Mr Biddiss, from Oxfordshire, added: ‘For example, you wouldn’t use blank rounds in a close up where, say, someone is being executed or shot at very close range. For that type of scene you need a round that doesn’t cause any blast waves at all.
‘Tragically, this accident was most likely to have been preventable. I just hope Halyna Hutchins’ passing will wake people up about can go wrong.’