Making Sure Your Project Is Safe

Every student is required to have the Safety Contract signed and turned in to your professor before beginning production on course projects.

Students may drive themselves in personal vehicles to and from an approved class project location, but if driving others, whether in a personal vehicle or College-owned vehicle, students must be an Oxy Authorized Driver and adhere to College Authorized Driver Procedures

Potentially hazardous shooting conditions including but not limited to the following are forbidden from student productions with the rare, pre-approved exception:

  • Stunts (ask what might constitute a stunt if you’re not sure)
  • Firearms or Other Weapons (actual or prop)
  • Shooting from Moving Vehicles or Transport Devices (buses, cars, bicycles, skateboards, etc.)
  • Having any Cast or Crew member operate a Moving Vehicle or Transport Device
  • Use of Minors
  • Use of Animals
  • Fire or other Pyrotechnics
  • Shooting in or Near Water
  • External Equipment Rentals
  • Aerial Camera Drones
  • Blocking or Disrupting Public Space

In short, talk to your professor before attempting anything that might expose you, others, or equipment and property to undue risk while shooting. When in doubt, ask! Ignorance is not a defense.

Even if you and your professor determine there is narrative value to a potentially hazardous activity's inclusion, and that this element can be achieved safely, departmental policy requires you submit a written proposal, vetted and submitted by your professor to College Risk Management (and if to be shot on campus, to Campus Safety) for review and approval. This proposal must be submitted to College personnel at least two weeks before the proposed shoot to permit time for review and consultation. Ask your professor for a sample proposal from a past production with related issues. Written proposals should be concise and answer the following questions:

  1. What is the importance and relevance of the activity, prop weapon, or stunt to your project and its story?
  2. What is the location, date, and estimated time/duration of your poposed shoot?
  3. How many shots/takes involving the potentially hazardous practice will be necessary?
  4. Explicity detail shooting protocol crew and any cast will follow to achieve the desired shots safely. 
  5. Detail any additional personnel (campus safety officer, police, stunt coordinator, location owner, etc.) who may need to be notified or present during shooting.
  6. If a prop weapon proposal, provide the following additional information: 
  • What is the prop weapon to be used? 
  • Where is this non-public shooting location where passers by cannot mistake the prop for an actual weapon?
  • What entities (Campus Safety, Location Owner, Police, etc.) will you need to notify in advance or have present on set?
  • How will you accommodate the safe and unseen transport of the weapon on and off set? Where and how will it be secured before and after the shoot?
  • Who is the prop master who will be in charge of the weapon at all times?

No weapon with moveable parts, actual blades, or production of flash/sound may ever be used in an Occidental film. Handling of a prop weapon on set will be by no one but the prop master and the actor during the actual take.

Please also note that prop weapons or any sort of stage combat come with extraordinarily high additional costs. A prop weapons permit may need to be issued by the state, taking several weeks and costing approximately $150. Depending on where you are shooting, you may be required to hire an off-duty Los Angeles police officer at $150/hour. Any stunts or stage combat will likely require a stunt coordinator to be on set at $150-$200/day. Challenge yourself to be innovative in your story and its execution – use off-screen sound, evocative angles, and the power of editing. What we don’t see if often scarier and more evocative than what you could ever show. The safer, more inexpensive, and more creative route is often far more engaging than gunshots, blood, explosions, fire, moving cars, or onscreen combat.