Healthy Hawaii film industry checks protocols after New Mexico tragedy

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii’s growing film and TV industry is reviewing safety rules in the wake of the deadly shooting involving Alec Baldwin on a movie set in New Mexico.

Authorities say the film’s assistant director handed Baldwin a gun and told the actor it was safe to use, just before he accidentally shot and killed the director of photography, Halyna Hutchins.

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Prop guns are in fact mostly real guns that either use blanks or dummy rounds. In Hawaii, anybody renting firearms to be used in the film industry must register them with the ATF, part of a vast set of rules that keeps those on set safe.

Prop Master Alvin Cabrinha has worked on sets in Hawaii since 1978. He says over 90% of those featured firearms.

“The number one thing that we stress is no live ammunition on set,” Cabrinha said.

On set, the firearms are kept in a lockbox, and once armorers and prop masters have them ready for a scene, they’re checked by the assistant director, an actor, and whoever the gun is pointed at before being handed to the actor for the scene.

“There’s protocols that have been put in place since the Brandon Lee incident, and as long as those are followed, weapons on the set are very safe,” Cabrinha said.

Brandon Lee, the son of Bruce Lee, was famously shot and killed during the filming of The Crow in 1993.

Many popular shows filmed in the islands will do so in neighborhoods, but if any scenes involving guns are scheduled, neighbors will be warned.

“With Hawaii Five-0 and Magnum PI, the state has asked the production companies to put up message boards in neighborhoods where filming is occurring and firearms and gunfire will be happening,” Cabrinha said.

The incident in New Mexico has shaken up the entire industry.

“I just know that it’s times like this — and we’ve had them in our past — where the industry, they stop, they reassess, they re-engage and re-evaluate safety on any film set because it is of paramount importance,” Hawaii State Film Commissioner Donne Dawson said.

Now, some around the country are asking for firearm rounds to be added in post-production.

“There’s nothing that can beat a blank firing firearm. It’s just that’s hard to simulate,” Cabrinha said. “But to prevent any more of those accidents happening that may be the way that the film industry needs to go.”

Overall the film industry remains very healthy in Hawaii, set to break records in 2021 with four TV shows in production and more expected.

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“We will probably surpass half a billion in direct production expenditures associated with all of this production on the ground,” Dawson said. “It’s a greater number once those dollars start pumping through our economy. And also, probably in excess of 5,000 jobs would be the estimate.”

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