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Fast & Furious Filmmakers Hit With $1 Million Fine After Stuntman Left Brain Damaged in On-Set Accident.


Summary

  • A seemingly simple stunt in the Fast and Furious franchise resulted in a stuntman suffering brain damage and a $1 million fine.
  • The accident occurred due to last-minute changes to the stunt and negligence in checking the safety line.
  • The film industry has seen recent high-profile accidents, including a stunt double’s paralysis and a fatal shooting on the set of the movie Rust. Legal cases are still pending.


The Fast and Furious franchise is known for its spectacular stunts and almost unbelievable car chases, but it seems a relatively straightforward stunt has landed the production’s filmmakers in hot water to the tune of $1million. A U.K. judge handed down the huge fine after a stuntman was left with brain damage following an accident on the set of F9 back in 2019.

F9 became another hit in the high-octane franchise, with many of the previous movie’s stars returning, including Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, and Charlize Theron. Although it would be expected that some of the elaborate vehicle-based stunts could be the most dangerous aspect of the series, it was a seemingly simple piece of stunt work that resulted in a near-death experience for stuntman Joe Watts.

According to the BBC, Watts suffered a broken skull when he fell eight meters onto concrete on set at Warner Bros. studios in Hertfordshire, U.K., in July 2019. District Judge Talwinder Buttar, sitting at Luton Magistrates Court, noted that Watts was “lucky to be alive” following the horrific incident, which occurred following changes made to the stunt after rehearsals. According to the prosecution, the last minute changes resulted in the safety line attached to Watts not being checked between takes, leading to it becoming detached. The judge also criticized the stunt coordination team for not making adjustments to the positioning of safety mats following the changes made to the stunt.

Watts worked as a stuntman for many years prior to his injuries, participating in high-profile productions such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Game of Thrones, and Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

Related: 15 Major Accidents That Happened on Movie Sets


High Profile Set Accidents Have Been in Focus Recently.

The Avenue

There is no way to get around the fact that stuntwork in movies is not an easy job, and it can result in life-changing accidents when things go wrong.

A brand-new documentary entitled David Holmes: TheBoy Who Lived takes a look at the life of Harry Potter stunt double Holmes, who was left paralyzed after suffering a spine injury while filming the penultimate film in the franchise. Produced by Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, the film details Holmes’ resilience and positive attitude in the face of his horrific injuries. Director of the documentary, Dan Hartley said of Holmes during the premiere:

“Dave shies away from the word ‘inspiration’ and I understand his reasons why. He’s living his best life despite really adverse conditions but he is incredibly positive and there’s something about that strength and will that he shows that we’ve been able to capture in the film.”

However, in October 2021, it was proven how even those not directly involved in stunt work can be caught up in serious on-set accidents, when during a rehearsals for the movie Rust, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot, and director Joel Souza was injured, when a live round was accidentally loaded into a prop gun fired by star Alec Baldwin. A subsequent legal case was brought against Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, and while the initial criminal charges against Baldwin were dropped, there are still pending cases being considered against both parties.



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