With the rise of superhero movies and post-9/11 thrillers, explosions in action films are getting bigger and fancier. For issues of safety and control, such scenes are probably best filmed in studios. But what happens when your scene requires a city backdrop (as they so often do)? In certain parts of the country, strict guidelines exist when pyrotechnics are involved (and with good reason).
The state of California, which obviously plays a large role in the entertainment industry, actually designates a full time Deputy State Fire Marshal to cover film production. According to the California Film Commission, the Fire Marshal is to be on-site for all scenes involving pyrotechnics and other special effects. Furthermore, one of his/her many other responsibilities is to lead “pyrotechnics training seminars” for the engineers and technicians involved with the film. Something tells us that these “seminars” aren’t your average liberal-arts college roundtable classes!
Check out these clips from Movieweb of explosions being filmed in downtown Los Angeles for the 2012 summer hit The Dark Knight Rises. What do you think the Deputy State Fire Marshal had to say about this scene?
But leave it to New York to surpass California in rigidity. New York City, more populated than Los Angeles, also requires representatives from the New York City Fire Department to be on site for explosive scenes. However, the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting (MOFTB) lists a few more situations that require personnel from the Fire Department or NYPD. These include the use of firearms and even just simulated firearms, which goes to show just how strict New York is when it comes to guns.
Our favorite rule, however, has to be that scenes filmed in New York that even just feature NYPD, NYFD, or EMT uniforms, or “other costumes resembling uniformed services personnel in New York City.” Just imagine the reactions of police officers on set for films like The Amazing Spider Man 2 (shot partially on location in New York City), in which law enforcement officials are often lampooned or depicted as incompetent. Awkward!
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