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props/ weapons design:
'Split Second' 1992


Shepperton Studios, West London, is home to a wide variety of small and specialised companies serving the film industry; an eclectic form of industrial estate.

During the months I spent here working with the colourful and talented crew at Ace Effects, a physical props and fx outfit, I participated in various projects - culminating in work on the feature film 'Split Second'; starring Rutger Hauer among others.

Set in a dystopian London of the near-future, the plot features an inordinate number of scenes in which Rutger and his pals brandish their armoury as overtly as possible, while wading through set-pieces every bit as murky as the film's plotline.

Ace Effects supplied a number of services to the production, including props, pyrotechnics, vehicles and latex make-up. Three different types of gun were required of us.

Jane's renowned armaments catalogues were consulted for inspiration. Interesting to discover that what exists within those pages is very much science fiction in its own right.

The early conceptual visuals I produced were then taken into a well-equipped workshop for fabrication. This example, from the early surviving images, featured a rotating barrel - in actuality driven by a battery powered electric motor.
Much of the relevant action was filmed in a disused factory, where entire floors could be flooded.
In practise, it was easier to harvest components from existing replica weapons, or to augment itenms acquired off the shelf : here, the barrel of a replica .45 revolver was sheathed in milled aluminium to create a far bulkier appearance.

Originally, the art director wanted the laser sight on this gun to spring into the position shown when a button was pressed. This idea was rejected on grounds of appearance, and on the final prop, the sight was mounted directly on the top of the barrel - aesthetically more appropriate.
 
 
 
Released in 1992, the movie mercifully disappeared without trace into the muddy waters of what would evolve into the 'straight-to-video' genre; a competent production sunk by a formidable pair of concrete Wellington boots - its own script.

In Mr. Hauer's repertoire, this movie must sit firmly at the bottom end of the stack, in contrast to his sublime turn in Blade Runner.

Nonetheless, as compensation for sitting through the entirety of the end-product, I had the enjoyable experience of sitting in a darkened cinema watching my name scroll up on the big screen for the first time...