Thursday, May 24, 2007

Actors with Guns

Throughout my life I have participated in one form of creative endeavor or another. While working at the Pasadena Production Studios and Pasadena Camera Rental I managed to work on a couple of student films and a couple of different photo shoots. The manager of the facility was a graduate of Art Center College of Design and would on the side work as a photographer and graphic artist. Like my wife she was abhorrent to guns. So she turned to me when working on a project that required guns, lots of guns. She at the time was working for a company that produced posters and VHS covers for movies. Her expertise was in all things art and not weaponry, hence her asking me to help. She also knew that I was getting burned out on the job and she wanted to have me do something a little different. She was kind enough to think of me for this particular job. The first portion of the job took us to Glendale Gun Works, one of the biggest weapon rental facilities in Hollywood. The place was amazing. I began to ask a lot of questions about some of the weapons, I was then led to the safe room that contained some weapons of note. In that room I was shown some of the guns used in the movies by John Wayne, James Cagney, James Arness, Edward G. Robinson and a cornucopia of other stars in movies. It was incredible to see so much Hollywood history concentrated in such a small space.
Due to some technical difficulties in the form of weapons permits and permissions, Lisa Carney had to shoot the live weapons there in the facility but was allowed to take the dummy weapons off site back to the studio.

One day I met Lisa in Calabasas at the house of the owner of the production company that she was working for. She had asked me to bring my personal weapon for a quick photo shoot. I showed up in a t-shirt and shorts, but was asked to quickly change into a black long sleeve shirt. She took the standard 36 shots on a roll of 35mm film of me in various shooting and standing positions. The difference between reality and Hollywood was apparent to me in that I was asked to position the gun in ways that were not practical nor safe in a live fire or range situation; knowing that the gun was unloaded and that this was a matter of art and not accuracy I complied.
Later on the shots were used in combination with stills from the movies. My head was digitally removed and the actor’s scowling face and head were put in place. The final result much like many of the other images found on posters for movies, actor’s with guns. As Paul Newman put it “conflict resolution through AK47.” Still, it didn’t look bad, it was for dramatic impact; which after all is what Hollywood is all about. I got 100 bucks for the gig, not bad for a hard day’s work.

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