As independent filmmakers we are often faced with tight lists of restrictions when seeking affordable production insurance. In particular, the use of explosives on set raises a number of red flags that most insurance companies are simply unable to work with. These issues are only further amplified when the expectations of the filmmaker require these explosives to be operated in close proximity to the cast and crew. As a result, these much sought after effects are far too often forcibly written out of scripts, sometimes at great detriment to the story and vision of the filmmaker.
When going into production on our latest project BLACKWELL, a winter western, we knew that rewrites on that scale were not going to be possible. Instead, we would have to find an easy to use, dependable, cost efficient and (above all) safe alternative to the explosive squib systems typically used in mega budget productions.
Working with Tolin FX gave us that solution.
This is the first time I have worked on set with a non-detonation squib system, and I must say that I will now have a hard time looking backwards. Not only did this rig allow us to bypass insurance and state licensing restrictions, it afforded our production a degree of flexibility that we simply would not have had if we were using explosives.
The rig itself can be reset an infinite number of times, with the only true expense being the few cents of blood fired each time. This offered us an immeasurable amount of freedom to perform extensive camera tests on set before committing to the final look of the blood hits.
Above all else, this is where the air release rigs really shine. On a purely aesthetic level, I was most impressed with the sheer variety of effects that the system affords. Being able to finely tune the quantity of blood and the air pressures being triggered allowed us to craft a huge range of effects out of the same rig. High velocity impact sprays? Not a problem. Low speed, globular exit wounds? Easy!
The reliability and consistency of the system is unarguably remarkable. So much so in fact, that we ended up using the rig for a number of additional effects that we had originally planned to create using other means.
In addition, Steve Tolin himself proved indispensable, being on call for us in order to troubleshoot and advise us through our early tests. This meant we could go into production with full confidence in the rig, knowing exactly what we were going to get, and allowing us to focus on all the creative aspects around the effects and not just the effects themselves.
ED BARNES- Writer/Director of Blackwell
We used it for the first time last night in a beer store shoot out.... The gunshot fn killed!!!
BILLY PON- Director of Circus of the Dead
These rigs work the same way every time without fail. It's nice to know you don't have to worry about whether or not the effect will work or not.
JEFF WALTROWSKI- Producer & Director of It Came from Yesterday
I love how perfectly I can tweak the hit to exactly the look that I (and the director) want. It's like painting with fake blood!
MIDIAN CROSBY- Owner and Operator of Monster Midian Make-up Effects
The rigs are not very cumbersome or heavy, making it easy to move. And knowing from rehearsals that the effect was going to fire when I triggered it really freed me to focus on my performance.
ERICA HIGHBERG- Actor