Film production sets can be dangerous places as evidenced by the recent accidental shooting death of stuntman Johann Ofner in Brisbane. As reported in the Courier Mail, the strongman and budding reality TV star died after a stunt involving firearms went horribly wrong on the set while filming a music clip for hip-hop duo Bliss N Eso.
It was reported that an armourer supplied the group with plastic replicas and a real shotgun with blanks.
The guns allegedly came with a warning stating not to point them directly at anyone, however it is understood Mr Ofner was shot from 1.5m away, blowing a hole in his chest. From media reports it is unclear as to the type of weapon used.
Queensland Police were preparing a report for the Coroner and Queensland Workplace Health and Safety were also investigating.
And this is not the first case of recent injuries on film sets. As reported in our September and December Newsletters, the actor Harrison Ford broke bones in his left leg when a door to the entrance of a spaceship pinned him to the ground, while on set filming the latest Star Wars film. The responsible production company was subsequently charged with two breaches under the United Kingdom’s Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 for putting an employee at ‘risk of death’ which was only prevented by the activation of an emergency stop.
Only last year, an investigation by the Associated Press (AP) revealed that at least 37 people had died on set filming accidents globally since 2000 with many more being reported as seriously injured. However, because there is no central database on international filming accidents, the AP report relied on “news accounts and lawsuits” suggesting that the actual numbers of injuries and deaths may be much higher.
These incidents remind us of the ‘risky’ nature of some facets of the entertainment industry, and the importance of having trained and competent professionals, and well executed health and safety plans. While we are not suggesting that this was not the case in any of the incidents mentioned earlier, it does reinforce the importance of emergency response planning because (bad) ‘S*#t (does) Happen!’