At one point or another, one of your films is going to call for the use of at least one gun, and unless you've already got your own arsenal of real firearms, getting your hands on some is going to be a touchy and expensive undertaking. If you're more keen on the cheaper alternative, stockpiling plastic toy and airsoft guns, it's important to make sure that they look realistic on-screen. In this helpful tutorial, filmmaker Tom Antos shows you how to ensure that your shoot 'em up film doesn't lose its verisimilitude by applying a weathering technique that is not only used by professional prop makers, but is also less expensive than a couple of cups of coffee.
One of the biggest differences between a real gun and a fake gun, other than the fact that one could critically injure you (or kill you), is the materials used in fashioning them. Airsoft guns may be much more accessible than prop guns used specifically for filmmaking, and less expensive than real guns, but they're made of plastic (or rubber) -- and that difference really shows up on high-def screens.
To help make these firearms look more realistic, you can apply a "weathering" technique that many professional prop makers use. As he'll demonstrate in the video, Antos sprays metallic silver spray paint on a piece of paper, dabs the paint with a sponge, and rubs it over the edges of each gun to make it look like weathered metal. Take a look at his tutorial to see exactly how he does it:
Though making fake guns appear real on-screen is extremely important, don't forget that airsoft/toy guns are also significantly lighter than their real brethren. Working with your actors to ensure proper, realistic handling of fake firearms is a must if you want to completely sell the illusion. (And don't forget great sound effects!)
If you're interested in more tutorials focusing on the making of action films, be sure to check out Antos' full article. He takes us behind the scenes of his film NWO United We Stand and shows us how he filmed not only the action sequences, but the entire film as well.
Do you have any tips on making fake guns look real? Do you know of any online resources for purchasing different fake guns? Let us know in the comments!