Film and television sets are frequently hectic environments, with dozens or even hundreds of people collaborating to achieve a distinctive shot. Heavyset pieces and props are common on film sets; in a recent production for the legendary Star Wars franchise, a set-piece fell on Harrison Ford's leg, fracturing it and forcing him to miss eight weeks of filming.
Unfortunately, on-set injuries are prevalent and can go unnoticed. Film production insurance is one means for filmmakers to protect their production businesses' assets, as well as the assets of their employees and cast members, from damages caused by injuries.
We'll look at some of the most common workplace hazards in the film business and show how specialist insurance may assist limit the risks in this fast-paced, high-risk sector.
Occupational Hazards in the Film Industry
Accidents involving film crews are disturbingly common. To get the visual appearance and feel the director's desire, crew personnel must frequently juggle heavy equipment and props. On-set accidents can also put cast members in danger; Harrison Ford's leg injury is only one of the dozens of such incidents. Injuries and deaths were quite prevalent in the early days of Hollywood production.
In reality, during the five years leading up to 1930, 55 individuals were killed and almost 11,000 others were injured while working on film sets. Since those days, safety standards have reduced the number of injuries and deaths significantly, but they have not removed the risks.
While data on contemporary film production injuries is scarce, it is estimated that between 20 and 40 individuals are seriously injured or killed each year while working on a film. The fact that annual mining accidents and injuries/deaths in the United States law enforcement community are lower than in the movie sector adds to the disturbing nature of this data.
The following are some of the most common injuries in the film industry:
- Hazards to trip over (cables, wiring, and ropes on sets)
- Explosives and incendiary devices cause pyrotechnic injuries.
- Accidents involving vehicles, particularly when helicopters are used to film scenarios.
- Potential for electrocution
- Objects and props that fall
- On-set safety gear is insufficient or non-existent.
While accidents do happen, some things can be avoided. The producing experience should be enjoyable rather than dreadful. Because knowledge is the greatest medicine, here are a few set safety rules to bear in mind:
Hire a Seasoned First Assistant Director
This is beneficial for a variety of reasons, one of which is that it improves set safety. The crew and talent's well-being is the responsibility of the first ADs. This involves keeping an eye out for potential dangers, such as scorpions, spiders, and snakes. Fire Safety Officers, Police, Monitors, SFX Supers, Armorers, Pyrotechs, Stunt Teams, Studio Teachers, Set Medics, and Site Reps are all in constant contact with them. All accident reports are created by ADs, and on-site injuries are monitored. They can veto anything they deem dangerous at any time.
Make a Point of Enforcing and Reinforcing Small Details
Closed-toe shoes, correct cord management, adhering to scheduled breaks, knowing where to locate the breaker box and separate circuits, being fire marshal compliant, and so on are some of the basic filmmaking safety precautions that people need to be reminded of from time to time.
Set It As a Top Priority
Making safety a top priority from the start is critical. Safety supervisors are present on larger film sets, keeping a lookout for any possible issues. If you're on a small crew, make safety a priority in every meeting and conversation.
At Each Tech Scout, Discuss Safety
In the event of an emergency, locate potential threats, power sources, and escape routes well before filming begins!
Speak Up If You Notice Something
Yes, only the director has the authority to say "Cut!" however that rule is flexible when a possible threat is present. Bring any safety concerns you have onset to the attention of your department leader or producer right away. It's also fine to interrupt the action if it's much more urgent.
The filmmaking industry is beset by tight production timelines and financial constraints, which sometimes overshadow the safety and welfare concerns of individuals participating in the production. Production firms expect an increase in the possibility of an on-set incident that results in a serious injury as moviegoers demand larger thrills and bigger effects.