Australia’s film and television union says it will take a fresh look at safety for the entire industry after a man was shot dead during the filming of a music video for Australian hip hop group Bliss n Eso in Brisbane’s CBD.
Stuntman and actor Johann Ofner, 28, was shot in what police called a “workplace incident” in an underground bar just before 2:00pm on Monday.
The ABC is yet to confirm what type of gun was used and if blanks were fired, however paramedics said Mr Ofner had two penetrating chest wounds and was shot at close range.
Before the fatal shooting, Mr Ofner posted footage on his Instagram Stories feed of two guns on the set of the music video with the caption “faulty props”.
Watch Johann Ofner’s Instagram story
Zoe Angus, the national director of equity with the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), said she would closely watch the findings of Queensland police’s criminal investigation into the death.
“There have been no instances of fatalities to our knowledge in the recent past, and that is because we have very rigorous standards in relation to safety,” she told the ABC.
It is not known what type of ammunition killed the 28-year-old man, but film weaponry specialists say most firearms are dangerous and need expert guidance.
Ms Angus said there were a number of steps that needed to be taken if guns were going to be used on an Australian film set.
“There needs to be permits, need a licenced armourer and a qualified armourer to supply the weapons, if weapons are going to be discharged the police have to be notified in advance and a safety officer on set who will do a safety breakdown, if there’s any live action around use of the firearms, then a stunt coordinator needs to be engaged,” she said.
She does not know whether or not those protocols were followed.
‘The love of my life was taken from me’
Tributes were shared for Mr Ofner, who has a young daughter.
His girlfriend posted a photo of herself with Mr Ofner on her Instagram account.
“Today the love of my life was taken from me and I still can’t believe it,” she wrote as the caption.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do with out you, the best people are always taken from us you were a true Angel. I love you so-so much forever and ever.”
‘This is a wake-up call’
Queensland police said they did not yet know how the fatal injury occurred, or what type of firearm or ammunition was used.
But the ABC has been told by other sources that Ofner was shot with a blank round, at close range, causing two chest wounds.
Qualified weapons specialist John Bowring said blanks were still dangerous, and their use on set should be highly regulated by professionals.
“It is a requirement by law that if you have firearms, even imitation, having a licenced armourer [is also required] under film safety code, which falls under health and safety act,” he said.
“You then also normally have a safety officer, who oversees things that are happening on a film set when any stunts or hazardous procedures are underway.”
The MEAA said the film safety code was not legally binding, and while screen producers in Australia have not officially signed up to it, they are bound to workplace health and safety laws.
Police said whether protocols were followed or not would be a part of their investigation, but Ms Angus said it was still time to revisit industry compliance.
“This is a wake-up call for those safety guidelines to be reviewed and extended into — for example — online productions, music videos, the whole other raft of screen production sector,” she said.
Bliss n Eso members expressed their sadness over the incident on social media on Monday night and said they were not on set at the time of the incident.
The ABC has contacted the producers of the video clip for comment.