How to Get Professional & Safe Looking Prop Guns for Your Film

When my team and I were making my first short film BROKEN we really wanted to have functional and professional-looking guns for the project. Obviously, we weren’t going to use real guns and getting our hands on working prop guns was too cost prohibited. We also wanted to make sure that everyone on-set was safe and that was our main priority.

We knew we could create some bad ass muzzle flashes in visual effects but I wanted to have some realistic looking guns on-set, that had blowback, to enhance the VFX and ultimately make the gun fights to look real.

After doing a ton of research we discovered Airsoft Guns or “Air Guns”(our prop guns). These are basically jacked up BB guns. They range in price from $12-$50 for good looking plastic replica pistols (excellent for wide shots) $20-$95 for metal replica pistols with realistic blowback (great for close-ups).

You can also get some remarkable looking replica rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, and even a grenade launcher. Crazy!

These Airsoft guns added so much realism to the film. The combination of practical blowback with high-end visual effects was a great combo.

Safety First

When using Airsoft guns or any firearm prop on set you MUST assign someone to be responsible for all the weaponry. These guns might not be real but they can hurt people. By law if you use professional prop guns you need an armorer on-set at all times. Everyone on a film crew must act professionally even if you are using Airsoft weapons on a low-budget independen film.

The late actor Brandon Lee was infamously killed on-set of The Crow by a misfiring prop gun. (Brandon Lee Death)

More recent there was a terrible incident on a professional film set in New Mexico where actor Alec Baldwin accidentally killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza with a misfiring prop gun. Prop guns, even Airsoft BB guns are no joke and NEED to be respected as if they were real.

Also please check your local state and city laws in regards to owning or using Airsoft guns. Always be careful, responsible and above all safe. Getting some cool shots in a indie film is not worth getting people hurt or worse.


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Where to Find the Guns?

If you want to have real looking guns in your film then this is the way to go. We purchased most of our guns through a local Airsoft or Air Gun reseller, and eBay.

We even asked the local reseller if he had any broken Airsoft guns in the back. He gave most of them to us for FREE and charged $5-$10 for $100 pistols. They didn’t work but they look great on camera.

Click on any of the links below to get some examples of Airsoft weapons.

Airsoft Prop Gun – Pistols Metal Pistols (with Blow Back):

Airsoft Green Gas (Fuel for Blow Back)

Airsoft Prop Gun – Pistols (Non-Blow Back):
Good for background and nonfiring shots

Airsoft Prop Gun – Shotguns:

Airsoft Prop Gun – Rifles:

Airsoft Prop Gun – Grenade Launcher:

Airsoft Prop Gun – Sniper Rifle:

BONUS: Realistic Prop Knives & Prop Weapons

If I may quote one of my favorite Christmas films:

“You’ll shoot your eye out kid.” – A Christmas Story

It may be funny but it’s true. Have fun and be very careful.  Good luck and happy filming.

IFH 102: How to Production Design Your Indie Film on the CHEAP!

Right-click here to download the MP3

What if I told you you could production design an entire house with for a hundred bucks. Can’t believe it? How about if I throw in labor, delivery, setup, and guys will come and pick up all the furniture when you’re done? I didn’t believe either until I did it.

In this episode, I discuss the little loophole/trick I used to furnish an entire house for my film BROKEN. You can get thousands of dollars worth of high-end furniture, appliances, computers, televisions, lamps, tables, dining sets, bedroom sets and all sorts of accessories for pennies on the dollar.

Now, this solution is not for every film. If you are doing a period piece or drug den this ain’t for you. This technique will work for contemporary decor and it works great.

Are you drooling yet? Want to know the secret? Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most powerful ones. Take a listen to this short episode and find out. You won’t regret it.

Alex Ferrari 7:27
So guys, today's show, let's get to today's show. I wanted to I kind of remembered this technique about how to production design and art direct a house a scene set with like, no money. So what if I told you and I did this, this did work on my short film broken. And I didn't do it on this movie because I didn't need to because all the art direction was done existing and we kind of played with it. But if it was something a little bit more stylized, that we had an empty house or, or something like that, but let's just say if I told you let's say you had your house, and you have your house location, and that's let's say you're going to shoot something in your house. And but your furniture is kind of like you know, hey, you know, it's not exactly what the scene calls for. It doesn't call for it doesn't it's not what the scene calls for. So what do you do? Like you're gonna go out and buy a whole bunch of furniture and bring it in just for the for the for the shot for the shot for a few days? Or for the week? Are you going to go try to rent it out a prop house, that's going to cost you an arm and a leg plus insurance plus all sorts of other craziness. But what if I told you that Oh, by the way, if you go rent something, they're generally not going to deliver anything to you either, you're gonna have to go pick it up, and all this kind of crap. What if I told you that I can show you a way to not only art direct and production design your entire house, let's say it's an entire house where you would empty out your house or empty out rooms and fill it with brand new furniture, high end 1000s of dollars worth of furniture, TVs, accessories, lamps, chairs, dining tables, anything you need, anything you eat, but but not only will you be able to rent it for like nothing but they'll deliver it for you and pick it up for you when you're done. How is this possible? Alex? How is this possible, my friend How is it possible? Well, it's something called renta center. Now I know you guys are going to be going what renta center you guys haven't heard of Renison Renner Center is a very huge company in the states in the United States. And they allow you to rent furniture by the week. So generally speaking, you're not going to need furniture for much longer than a week. If not maybe two or three weeks. You could do a month deal if you want but generally that's how long you're going to run them you know work on a movie for So how much is how How much is this really gonna cost? Like how much would a dining room set cost me a week? Well to buy a dining room set, just let's say a really expensive set, let's say $1,000 set. Well, for $1,000 $1,000 set, you can rent that for 20 bucks. 30 bucks, maybe maybe 45 bucks at the most, at the absolute most. But you can rent appliances, full bedroom sets, dining room sets, living room sets, as well as big screen TVs, computers, which by the way, if you rent the computer, you can use it for production, they'll read they'll charge you 25 bucks a week for it, but if you need it for a few weeks, hey, but if you need a computer as a prop, you can do that. Any kind of appliance refrigerators, washers, dryers, anything that you would need to fill a house, they have lamps, little accessories, little knickknacks, all that kind of stuff, you can rent all these big items for pennies on the dollar. So a lamp will cost you like $100 lamp will cost you seven bucks for the week. Do you see what I'm saying. So all of a sudden, you can add a tremendous amount of production value for little very little money. Now of course, you'll need a credit card. So without a credit card, this won't work. But you need a credit card. So you can put it on file and just head over to rent a center. That's our e n t a By the way, I'm not being paid a dime for this. I'm not being there's not no no turn no money being made on this at all. This is just a nice inside tip that I think will help a lot of filmmakers out there because it was amazed. I think we walked in and we actually cut a deal this was back in the day. But we cut a deal for like I think it was a bedroom set a full bedroom set a full living room set up because we had an empty house at the time. So we had to fill it out completely. A bunch of tables, a kitchen set and no refrigerator, all that stuff. I think we paid like 150 bucks for it for and we did like we told them look, we need it for a day. They're like okay, they came in delivered it, set it all up for you. Then when you're done you call them they come and pick it up. It's crazy. But that's their that's their business. That's what they do. So I think it would be very, very helpful to filmmakers to do so go to rent a center comm check it out, see what works for you. If you're going to do a shot and or you're going to do scenes anywhere in a home, or set, even you build a set and you need to fill the setup, same thing, you can use them. It's a great great resource for filmmakers guys. And like I said, I did it with broken and it worked amazingly back then. And I can't believe I didn't even think about it for four mag because I really we really didn't need it. So I guess that the it wasn't it wasn't something that I was thinking about. But I was thought about it the other day. And I was like man, I got to tell this to the tribe, because I think they're going to get a real kick out of it. And I think it's going to help a lot of filmmakers out there to get a little bit more production value out of their production design. And by the way, and if it's not rent a center, there are other companies out there that do the same kind of business where you can rent furniture by the week, like rent to own kind of places. So if it's not rent a center in the US, there's other there's other companies that do the same thing that you can kind of look out, go out and look for as well as anywhere in the in other areas of the world. There should be companies that do this kind of business where you rent to own stuff. But if you're only going to rent it, you can rent it out for a week and you're done. And it's so much better than buying cheap furniture that you got to go drag in carry. And then when you're done with the movie, what are you going to do with it, you're going to try to sell it, this is in and out and it's brand new stuff. It looks great, really high end looking. So again, depends on what your movie is and what you're trying to do. But it definitely can help you guys so definitely check it out. All right. Don't forget to head over to free film book calm, that's free film book comm to download your free filmmaking audio book from audible. And of course, if you guys want to check out the movie, we're just talking about broken, you can head over to indie film Ford slash Amazon. And it'll take you directly to my Amazon Video direct links to watch all my short films for free. And you can see the process of what you know how I put it all up, and how you know we're actually making money with it. And they're old. I mean brokens, a 12 year old short film and I'm still making money with it. I just put it up and Amazon through Amazon Video direct, and it's pretty amazing. And if you guys want more information about Amazon Video direct, I'm actually going to do a whole tutorial in the weeks to come about how I actually put everything up the issues I had with closed captioning, what I did to get around that and options and all that kind of good stuff for that but check it out indie film, hustle, calm forward slash Amazon and I would really appreciate any kind of honest reviews hopefully good, but any honest reviews of the shorts. The better reviews I get the more rankings you get up there and hopefully more people see it. So We have amazon prime, it's free. If not, I think you can rent them for like 99 cents or something like that. But definitely check it out guys. So keep that hustle going keep that dream alive, and I'll talk to you soon.




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