Expert Says Blank Rounds Can Be Fatal

Music video filming death investigation

Article heading image for Expert Says Blank Rounds Can Be Fatal

Theatrical armourers say the Gold Coaster who was shot dead while filming a Bliss N Eso music video in Brisbane's CBD may have been shot with a blank round. 

28 year old experienced stuntman and actor, Johann Ofner, was killed at dive bar Brooklyn Standard on Tuesday. 

A series of investigations are underway - including by the Police, Workplace Health & Safety and the TV and film union - and the majority will focus around the legality of having weapons (either real or replica) on set, and whether the current guidelines were followed by the film crew. 

Comments querying why ammunition was allowed on set have started appearing online, and industry experts have hit back saying that's not necessarily what happened - 

Theatrical armourer John Bowring has been in the industry for more than 30 years. He's worked on some of Hollywood's biggest films, including Hacksaw Ridge, only recently.

"A theatrical armourer is someone who supplies and supervises weapons for film production, that includes firearms. We advise the Director on what sort of weaponry they may need, we train the actors and stunt people on their use and then we supervise their use on set. The whole time, we're responsible for making sure everything is kept safe and legal"

While he wasn't involved in the Brisbane tragedy in any way, he says it's a requirement of the law that a licensed armourer be on set when any stunts or hazardous procedures are underway. 

There have been reports that a number of guns - both real and replica - were on set at the time of Ofner's death. Only hours beforehand, Ofner had taken to social media with video footage from the set showing a number of weapons alongside wads of cash, poker chips etc. 

"Real guns are needed on film sets. Without real guns, you can't fire blanks"

"The best way I can describe it is a blank is a bullet without the 'bullet' projectile part of it. At the muzzle of a weapon, the energy is all there, you don't need [a bullet], it is a highly focused explosive charge"

"The closer you get to the muzzle, the more dangerous it is"

There have been reports Ofner was shot at close range, possibly from as close as 1.5m away. 

In some blanks, Bowring says, there is soft wadding which comes out of the gun at supersonic speed which increases the danger. 

"We, professional film armourers, would never consider blanks to be safe and not dangerous. It's the first thing that we teach people - these things are dangerous, and used incorrectly they can kill you"

24 January 2017

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