Performers injured during filming in BC

Several background performers sustained minor injuries after their boat hit a sandbar Tuesday night while filming the movie The Big Year in British Columbia. The movie stars Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin as three avid bird watchers, trying to find the rarest bird in North America. The boat, which was carrying 25 people, hit a sandbar at low tide near Tonquin Beach on Vancouver Island. Four people were sent to hospital and three were later released. One man who was kept for observation. None of the stars were on set when the accident occurred. The movie will continue to shoot in the Okanagan Valley, which is standing in for Arizona and New Mexico. The Big Year is scheduled for a 2011 release.

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Comments & Discussion

  1. Andrea • May 14, 2010 @ 4:51 PM

    Moviemakers are often careless with people’s lives.

  2. alex • May 14, 2010 @ 6:20 PM

    @andrea: thanks for that completely inaccurate and unnecessary comment

  3. ugh • May 14, 2010 @ 7:19 PM

    alex – I agree with andrea…. moviemakers have to take care of and erradicate every sandbar in the ocean whenever actors and cast are on a boat!!!!!


  4. Amy • May 15, 2010 @ 9:00 AM

    I agree with Andrea. There are often stories about people getting hurt on sets, last year a car almost hit a bunch of extras on Public Enemies and there were casualties on Nicolas Cage’s The Sorceror’s Apprentice. And does anyone remember Vic Morrow and the children who were killed by a helicopter on a set? If there wasn’t a union with rules they would take even more unnecessary risks – in the 1930s, they used real bullets in guns. In his autobiography, James Cagney said that he was almost shot in the head making a movie. And I’m sure you all know what they used to do to animals for movies – trip wires for horses (now outlawed) and even recently, there was an animal killed onscreen for a movie, and James C Reilly walked off the set because he didn’t want to be a part of that movie after he found that out. And I think it was Betty White that refused to be part of another movie that mistreated dogs. And this is in this day and age, when the Humane society is supposed to be onset to protect animals, but sometimes they’re so starstruck or so bullied by the director/producers that they let things happen that shouldn’t. There’s still a long way to go. Accidents shouldn’t happen on movie sets. It’s not worth risking lives for entertainment purposes.

  5. movielover • May 15, 2010 @ 9:35 AM

    The movie was Manderlay, starring Bryce Dallas Howard and Willem Dafoe and directed by Lars Von Triar. A spokesperson addressed the issue when Reilly walked off the set, saying none of the other actors had an issue with a donkey being killed on film for the movie because, they claimed, the donkey was due to be slaughtered anyway. Anyone else feel sick to their stomach reading that kind of stupidity? Rationalizing a death so millions can enjoy watching an animal being murdered on screen, I think that used to be called a snuff film.

  6. Thibz • May 15, 2010 @ 4:15 PM

    Accidents can happen to anyone whether its a movie or NOT!! this is no different! These guys on mother natures grounds and you can always predict what will happen.

  7. Thibz • May 15, 2010 @ 4:18 PM

    Correction: These guys are on mother natures grounds and you can’t always predict that a sand bar will just pop up outta nowhere

  8. movielover • May 16, 2010 @ 9:01 AM

    The problem is that when you’re hired to do a movie, you have to do what they say, and you are trusting them that it’s safe, even if it seems dangerous. As long as the camera is rolling, you have been hired to stay in character, whereas in real life, you a) don’t get in a ship/situation you’re not sure of b) jump ship/get out of the way/don’t get onboard if you think it’s unsafe. That why filmmakers must take precautions – these people, especially extras – are like sitting ducks, their lives are 100% in the filmmaker’s hands.

  9. tributegirl • May 16, 2010 @ 12:47 PM

    They have been hired to stay in character and to do what they are told, but like any other job, if they see something that is unsafe they have every right to refuse to work, they can easily tell the filmmakers to take this job and shove it if conditions are not addressed properly. I know the filmmakers could very easily find new extras, or whatever, but the ones who walk off can easily talk to the media.

  10. Andrea • May 17, 2010 @ 9:09 AM

    Yes, anyone working on a film set who sees something unsafe can refuse to work. And if they do so, they will never work again in the industry. Extras especially are a dime a dozen. Actors ditto. The only ones who could possibly say something without getting blacklisted are A-list stars. There are people who work as extras to earn a living – it’s their full time job. They’re not going to say anything, their livelihood is at stake, so they just cross their fingers and trust that the filmmakers are not putting them in jeopardy.

  11. tributegirl • May 17, 2010 @ 3:44 PM

    Extras and minor-role actors ARE a dime a dozen, and there’s no way they have a “name” in the business, so if they walked off a set, another film company would NOT know who they were anyway. Even THAT film company would not likely keep a record of the persons name. So I don’t believe their livelihood is at stake, but if their LIFE is at stake….well that’s a whole different ball game.

  12. Sammy • May 17, 2010 @ 4:50 PM

    I worked as an extra for a year and believe me, you don’t do anything to piss anyone off on the set because you get the bookings through agents (everyone has several) and if a filmmaker complained about you (all they have to do is ask the “background performer handler” who you are), your agents wouldn’t send you out again because it obviously gives them a bad name if one of the people they sent out was causing trouble. Another film company may not know who they are when they roll into town, but your agents know who you are.

  13. tributegirl • May 17, 2010 @ 5:48 PM

    My daughter and I worked as extras, and there was no agent, we just signed on, showed up, did what we were told (but would NOT have done anything we felt was not safe), got paid and went home. They had our names but there’s no way they could connect us to a face, there were so many extras there. A couple people went to lunch break and didn’t come back, pissed the filmmakers off, but there’s nothing they could do about it, they had a list of names there, but didn’t know which face went to which name.

  14. Sammy • May 18, 2010 @ 9:31 AM

    Oh, I see why you have this misconception that extras are anonymous then. That was a one shot deal where they asked the public to show up. Usually, extras are hired through agencies. Background performers have to give an 8 x 10 headshot and a resume (mainly so they can see what extra skills you have, like driving/bicycle riding, various sports, swimming, etc., in case they need extras who can do that stuff) and extras usually have more than one agent because production companies won’t go through every agency, they’ll pick one and use that one for the entire shoot. Which means if you want to work constantly, you use up to five agents. If you’re a one time extra doing it for a lark, sure, I could see you complaining about something and then never doing extra work again and not caring if you do or not. But a lot of them are professionals, or doing it to get experience because they want to move up to being an actor one day, and they cannot raise a stink unless they want to go off and find another career. I did this for a year and I know a lot of background performers, I worked with a lot of them over and over again and even though I don’t do it anymore, I still see them in the background on various Canadian productions.

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