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Personal safety kit

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#1 Janice Arthur

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Posted 19 September 2015 - 10:12 AM

Hi all;

Here is what I carry, and when needed it expands or contracts as needed per job.

1) climbing chest harness that will fit over vest to allow for good hand holds for spotters or alone for handheld shooting
2) plastic cleats for wet grass or misc slippery surfaces. Golf spikes if needed but don't step on electric cables in metal spikes.
3) knee, elbow and other pads. (Make them dirty and worn looking and you'll look cooler.)
4) rain gear of course

That's a basic list.
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#2 brooksrobinson


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Posted 27 September 2015 - 01:30 AM

Great post Janice!  You never know what you are going to find when you show up to work each day and it is important that you are able to protect yourself.  Some prop/grip/special effects departments are well stocked and set up to protect you for whatever may arise on set, while others are woefully equipped, and your safety is in your own hands.  I always carry several bags in addition to my regular equipment for safety and comfort. 


The first large duffle bag doesn’t include my safety gear, but does include things I use most days on set.  There are several smaller sacks inside this one, each filled with different items that are easy for my assistants to find quickly if I’m busy on set.  The first sack has black-out clothing for help beating reflections.  I have black long-sleeve dri-fit shirts, black gloves, black cap, lightweight balaclava, and a lightweight black one-piece “ninja suit” with hood.  The second sack has a full change of clothes in case I get wet.  The third sack has my rain gear.  This includes a poncho (I prefer these for doing steadicam in the rain), a nice Arcteryx rain suit (lightweight jacket and pants), rain hat, waterproof gloves, and 2 pairs of Neos waterproof overshoes (both the insulated and lightweight models). The rest of the bag is filled with spare shoes to change into at lunch, sweatshirts and coats, gloves for warmth, stocking caps, and various hats for the sun.  There is nothing worse than being on location and not having the right clothing to be comfortable during a long shoot.  Since we often don’t know what a particular job entails, or didn’t bother to read the callsheet, it is good to have it all with you just in case.


My second duffle bag contains my safety gear.  I have a fire retardant Safety Fire suit that I use for fire/explosions/gunfire.  It is made out of thick, treated furniture pad material, and while it is hot as hell to wear on a hot set or in the jungle, it has saved me on many occasions (literally), and it is an essential part of my kit.  I also own several face shields for close-range gunfire as the ones the prop departments provide are always scratched and hard to see through.  One of mine is pre-cut for an eyepiece so I don’t have to ask the prop or grip department for one at the last minute when the sun is setting.  I also have two sets of ear protection (cans).  One is a slim model for when I go hand-held.  The thin ones are narrow enough to fit between the camera body and my head without adjusting the eyepiece too far out away from the camera body (a throwback to the film days when you couldn’t do that).  My other set of cans are made by Peltor and I use them for steadicam and traditional operating when I am using a monitor or an extension eyepiece and there isn’t a clearance issue.  They are great because they allow you to hear people talk but actively cut out loud noises.  Perfect for set use so you don’t need to keep taking them off and risk forgetting they aren’t on your ears when SPFX blows up a building.  I also keep a box of the small foam earplugs in with my cans so I can double up the protection when using full-load gunfire.  Lastly, I also have a respirator for working in nasty and dangerous conditions, not that production would ever make us work in a location that wasn’t completely safe.


As always, when working with explosions and gunfire, ask the special effects guys what is safe.  They should know how close you can be without getting hurt, and if there is a safety concern, involve the 1st AD and key grip.  Nobody wants to get hurt on set, and it is your responsibility to ask questions and be as informed as you can be.  Have the right gear and make sure everyone signs off on where you are going to be in relation to the gun or explosion.  


Thanks again Janice for starting the thread.  I’d be interested to hear what other people bring to set to make their life safer and more comfortable.  Thanks in advance.


Brooks Robinson


PS  Off topic, but important...I was reminded while proof-reading my post of the importance of black clothing.  Years ago in my formative years I was fortunate enough to land a job with a big time DP that many of you would know.  It was an exterior job in the mountains and it was cold.  I pulled out my jacket which was bright red.  My assistant on the job was an old-school guy who I'd never worked with before (but who I still work with whenever I can), and he quickly pulled me aside and told me I'd need to change to something black right away.  Without taking up too much time with an explanation, he told me I'd never work for the DP again if he saw me wearing a bright red coat on his set.  It was a reflection risk (though we weren't filming anything that could show my reflection at the time) and also a color bounce risk.  I ran to the truck and changed immediately (good thing I always keep that big duffle bag on the truck!).  I didn't really take it in until later, but upon reflection (pardon the pun), it made perfect sense, and I appreciated the AC saving me.  Because of him, I wasn't let go that day due to my red jacket and I still work with the DP to this day.  Because of that lesson, I only wear black or dark gray while on set and certainly nothing that might distract or be an obvious reflection risk.  I am always amazed when I show up to film a car commercial and the AC's, AD's, and dolly grip are wearing white shirts.  So wear what makes you comfortable on set, but know that some DP's frown on bright clothing in the camera department.

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#3 Janice Arthur

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 06:02 AM


That's a great list, amazing and I have to say I've used virtually everything you listed at some point, even if I didn't have it personally.

Ear protection you can hear through (noise canceling ones) was something I found really helpful because the op can hear cues and dialogue which was important.

I will add that a reflective (traffic cop) type of vest is useful on busy street locations and when you want the crew to see you. I've been in black a lot and random situation happens where being too invisible is an issue. Right before you shoot you hang it on the stand or even put it over the vest on walk across street walk and talks. Lastly these tiny crews today have little support and that stupid vest keeps cars seeing you.

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#4 Brant S. Fagan SOC

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Posted 01 October 2015 - 07:40 AM

Brooks--great listing of tricks and tips!  Been doing and carrying the same types of gear for years and never think twice about what I might need or want.  Better to have and not need than to wish for it or worse, suffer for the unpreparedness.  Don't depend on others for your personal safety.  You really have to be your own advocate when it comes to going home safe.  If you don't make it home to cash the check, what was the point of the outing?  Besides, who else can better tell the 'story' than you?

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