Film School: the Dangers of Production

Memorial for cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, in 'Quiet on Set' by Washington Post (2023) Memorial for cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, in 'Quiet on Set' by Washington Post (2023)

“When people rush or get tired on set, bad things happen.”

It’s a terrifying indictment that it needs saying, but “nobody needs to die in this industry”, as we hear from set decorator Chilly Nathan in the opening seconds of Quiet on Set (2023), a short documentary by Lindsey Sitz and Ross Godwin which “uncovers the hidden dangers of movie and TV production” and examines them as systemic issues (via the Washington Post):

The industry has absolutely no incentive to change… because… someone will always allow themselves to be exploited.

Zack Arnold, Editor, in Quiet on Set

These industry professionals describe the fear many of them have of calling out systemic problems with their union IATSE, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, for fear of being blacklisted – particularly as minorities. “We fight for so much equality on-screen,” highlights assistant editor Sabrina Gimenez, “and yet when I want that kind of treatment off-screen, I’m pariah’d.”

'Quiet on Set' by Washington Post (2023)
Race and Gender across 300 top-grossing films from 2016 to 2018 (Source: USC Annenberg inclusion initiative) | Quiet on Set by Washington Post (2023)

For context, Quiet on Set was released following an incident in 2022 which made international headlines. “Local safety officials issued a report detailing safety failures on the set” after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot and killed by a prop gun fired by actor and producer Alec Baldwin (via BBC):

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