How to shoot with breaking glass #affordableaction

DISCLAIMER: We do not recommend you perform stunts without the supervision of a trained professional. This is given here solely for the purposes of education, and we are not responsible if you or your cast and crew injure themselves, if you try this, you do so at your own risk. Film stunts often deal with dangerous situations, and although the idea is to do them safely so you can do several takes without hurting yourself, accidents do happen. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PRODUCTION INSURANCE TO COVER YOURSELF AND YOUR PEOPLE, AND A SET MEDIC.

Glass, the final frontier… just kidding. But this is indeed an important topic, especially if you can’t afford breakaway glass.

Back in the day, breakaway glass, aka candy glass, was made of spun sugar. You could turn into objects like cups or bottles, or make it into window panes, etc.

Nowadays, breakaway glass is made of resin, and isn’t as fragile and spun sugar, nor as hard to manufacture, but still brittle.

For example, let’s take a quick scene of somebody throwing a glass at somebody, let’s assume he ducks out of the way, and the glass smashes against the wall, but then he steps into the broken shards on the floor, and he’s barefoot.

If you have breakaway glass, it’s a lot safer, and you just need someone with good aim – maybe get them to throw some plastic cups first to make sure the mark’s getting hit consistently.

You can then shoot a medium closeup and see the glass smash against the wall, maybe from the side, so you can see the glass travel across frame, and on a longer lens you can stack the glass and the actor up, and make it seem like it just missed him, even though it may have been a foot or two away.

You can then do another take of an insert on the glass shattering against the wall. In this take, you could fill up the new glass with shards from the previous impact, so when the new glass breaks, more particles will come out, and it will look bigger and better.

Stepping on the glass, with breakaway glass, is a simple matter of a closeup on the feet on well-placed shards. You can make a little pile for the guy to step on and add some wild sound of crunching glass to make the audience cringe and drive the point home.

Then, take some of the bigger pieces and with fake blood and spirit gum, make them protrude from the bottom of the guy’s foot, and you’ve got some impact. Ouch!



What you’ll have to do, is isolate your actor shots from the real glass shots.

So, you can still do the medium closeup, but throw a plastic glass instead. If thrown fast enough people won’t be able to tell, so long as the glasses are fairly similarly shaped.

Also, make sure you get glasses with THIN bottoms, they’ll create smaller pieces, and if anyone steps on those, it’s not as bad as stepping on big thick sharp edges. They’ll break easier too.

So, throw the plastic cup on the medium closeup with reaction from the actor. Shoot a tight insert of the real glass hitting the wall – again practice with plastic cups until aim is right – and for stepping on the glass, spread the pieces around then clean a foot-size oval and have your actor put his foot in that area alone. Make sure it doesn’t look too obvious, but a quick in and out and they won’t have time to realize what happened. You can then do a closeup on upright pieces of glass with some blood on it, and then shoot from the waist up on the actor going to sit down with a bloody foot. Some pieces of clear plastic and spirit gum to the bottom of the foot with lots of blood and you’ve got your shot with no one injured.

Make sure you shoot no higher than 1 foot off the ground, and shot down on the glass/foot. In the back part of your oval, place some bigger pieces pointing up – it will look like the foot is stepping on those raised pieces.

You can also dress the foot ahead of time with spirit gum, pieces of fake glass, and/or blood for good effect.


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