Prop Weapon Usage

It is against CalArts policy to bring any type of firearm, weapon, or prop weapon onto the CalArts Campus, stored in your car while on campus or on your person without following the procedures listed below. This includes, but is not limited to, pistols, rifles, carbines, shotguns, swords, sabers, daggers, knives, axes, chainsaws, muskets, replicas, and any other weapon that is real, modified, rubber, plastic, airsoft, BB, or capable of firing any type of projectile. Failure to comply with these policies is severe and will lead to disciplinary action.

General Policy for All Schools

  • It is strictly prohibited to bring any type of weapon, referenced above, on campus for personal reasons (non-performance, film/video productions or exhibition).
  • The only type of weapon that will be approved for performance, exhibition or film/video productions are rubber/resin weapons (or similar material), non-firing (plugged barrel) weapons, blunt or filed down weapons or replica weapons with the firing trigger removed. These approved weapons will be referred to as Prop Weapons.
  • Real guns may never be used under any circumstance.
  • You may not use any prop weapons that are capable of propelling any sort of projectile.
  • Live ammunition, blanks, squibs and other pyrotechnic devices may never be used on campus or off campus for film/video production.
  • The prop weapon must be rented from an approved rental house. You may not use personal or purchased toys, models or replica firearms.
  • The above referenced approved prop weapons can be used in art exhibits, theater/dance performances or film/video productions only but must follow the following procedure.
    • Prior to a prop weapon being brought on campus, a Prop Weapon Release Form must be attained and filled out completely. You should list the type of prop weapon and its use for the exhibition, performance or film/video production. Also, dates on campus and areas the prop weapon will be used.
    • You will be notified by Production Services or the Risk Management Administration that your Prop Weapon Release Form has been reviewed and a date will be set for you to bring the prop weapon on campus for inspection.
    • When transporting a prop weapon onto campus, you must alert the Safety Officer at the main gate that you are bringing a prop weapon onto campus. He/she/they will direct you to the facilities dock where you will be met by another Safety Officer, inspection will take place and you will be escorted to your destination. The prop weapon must be concealed in a duffel bag or by some other means as not to alarm the campus community. Under no circumstances may a prop weapon be brandished, played with or otherwise displayed when transporting onto campus or while on campus.
  • At inspection, pictures will be taken of all prop weapons.
  • Once approval has been given, the prop weapon must be stored in a locked cabinet if not immediately used. No horseplay or brandishment allowed.
  • In all campus areas where a prop weapon is being used in an exhibition, performance or film/video production, signage must be posted that announces the use of a prop weapon.
  • Any and all prop weapons, referenced above, found unattended, or deemed to be brought on campus for personal reasons will be confiscated and given to Campus Safety. For exhibitions, performances or film/video productions the prop weapon will be held until the owner, production manager, or prop/weapons master has given written/email permission from his/her/their/zir school/department to Campus Safety to have the weapon returned. If the weapon is to be used in a performance, exhibit or film/video production, it must immediately be given to the owner, prop/weapons master, or production manager to be locked up until needed. If a prop weapon is deemed to be brought on campus for personal reasons, it will be disposed of by Campus Safety and the owner will face disciplinary actions. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Extra Guidelines for Film/Video Production on Campus

  • Set up a meeting with Production Services to go over the use of the prop weapon.
  • A member of the crew shall be designated Prop Master or Weapons Handler and have the responsibility for transporting, handling, control, distribution, and securing all prop weapons.
  • The use of the prop weapon shall be noted on the Call Sheet.
  • Before use on set, a safety meeting must be held and an announcement made to cast and crew that a prop weapon is about to be used.
  • Treat all prop weapons as though they are real or loaded.
  • The actor’s behavior when properly matched with appropriate visual and sound effects in post-production will likely accomplish convincing your audience that your actor is holding a live firearm.
  • Make sure appropriate signage is posted announcing the use of a prop weapon.
  • If any of the above procedures are not followed, a Safety Officer will be assigned to act as Safety Coordinator for the film/video production. The time for this person will be charged to the School of Film/Video or student.

School Film/Video Production off Campus

Set up a meeting with the Head of Production Services. The prop weapon must be rented from an approved rental house. You may not use personal or purchased toys, models or replica firearms. Live ammunition, blanks, squibs and other pyrotechnic devices may never be used for any type of School of Film/Video production off campus.

You will need a film permit. The permit form will ask if you are using a prop weapon. Be aware, there may be restrictions on their usage at your chosen location. Check first!

Brandishing weapons in a public place usually requires the presence of a police officer. This means hiring an off-duty officer (an LAPD officer gets $45.00 an hour with an 8 hour minimum).

The key is whether you can be seen by anyone not affiliated with your shoot. If you’re inside and the blinds are closed, you are probably okay. If you need to have the windows open, you should post signs on the outside of the window reading “FILMING” and “PROP WEAPON IN USE.” Additionally, post someone outside the window to watch for passersby and to give the all clear. Yellow caution tape can be used to block off an area where you don’t want people passing by (this is also useful if you do not want them crossing in front of camera in general).

If you are outside and brandishing a weapon, and there is a chance that someone could see you, you must notify the police.

All the precautions that you take are designed to minimize the danger of someone misunderstanding what is happening. Everything you do should be geared towards avoiding the possibility of misconception—whether it is making sure there is nobody around (although it is tough to be certain of this), posting signs or notifying the police yourself ahead of time.

The problem with posting “FILMING” signs is that depending on where you are, there is the potential of attracting onlookers. That is why it is best to have someone assigned specifically to crowd and pedestrian control.

Notifying the Police

The person you should try to reach is the Watch Commander of the precinct covering your location. For example, the Los Angeles Police Department has 18 different stations, each covering a different area of the city (Hollywood, West LA, Van Nuys, Devonshire, etc.). In the Santa Clarita Valley, you would notify the Sheriff’s Department.

The Watch Commander is the officer who dispatches officers to a scene. If they know that you
are shooting a film with prop weapons at a certain location at a certain time, and they get a call from a neighbor reporting it, they know not to dispatch squad cars. Officers who report to a scene where weapons have been reported are understandably on edge and nervous, and this is a very dangerous situation for you to be in.

You should call at least a week before your planned date so that the station can put you on their calendar. This way, whoever is on duty at a particular time will be informed in advance. Call again the day before your shoot and the day of.

Failure to comply with these policies and procedures could result in injury or death and will result in disciplinary action.

Just in case you are not convinced:


From Times Staff and Wire Reports

A 29-year-old man was shot to death by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies Monday after he refused to drop a toy handgun that was mistaken for a real firearm, authorities said.

The shooting occurred about 7:15 p.m. near Inglewood Avenue and Lennox Boulevard when the man pointed a fake silver gun at deputies, said Deputy Bill Brauberger.

The man was identified as Jaimie Flores of Lennox, said Lt. Larry Dietz of the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.

LA Police Department Precinct Locations/Santa Clarita Sheriff Department

To find the Precinct Office for your location go to the LAPD Website: enter the address of your location. For the Santa Clarita Valley, please contact the Santa Clarita permit office

Table of Contents