Stunts 101: 3 Things You Should Know about Using Breakaway Glass
Are you itching to throw someone through a window? Here's how to do it safely.
Though it's tons of fun watching our favorite action stars take death-defying leaps through plate glass windows, these types of stunts, which utilize breakaway glass, are well-choreographed and executed by professional stunt performers to mitigate any real danger. If you're interested in including a stunt like this in your own work, awesome, but before you go toss your lead actor through your living room window, check out this video from The Slanted Lens. In it, host Jay P. Morgan shares a few tips on how to pull it off safely and effectively, including 1.) how to prepare your set, 2.) how to install the glass, and 3.) how to toss a human being through it.
Now, even though places like Alfonso's offer breakaway glass that is made of plastic, you can actually make your own out of sugar. It's made by dissolving sugar in water, heating it up to at least 300°F, and then forming it into whichever shape you need it to be in, whether it's a sheet resembling a window or a bottle to resemble, you know, a bottle. You'll also want to add some glucose or corn syrup to keep the sugar from recrystallizing. You can use Cream of Tartar, too.
The Slanted Lens actually made a video a while back showing you how to make your own breakaway glass.
These kinds of props are relatively safe because of how fragile the material is that's used to make them, but understand that any stunt being performed on set poses a certain level of danger to the stunt person, as well as others. You can still cut or injure yourself on breakaway glass.
Also, keep in mind that because this glass is incredibly fragile, transporting, handling, and storing it has to be done carefully. Temperature is a huge factor in how well it will stand up to cracking and damage, so make sure you keep your breakaway glass props somewhere cool and free of vibration (like...maybe don't toss it in the bed of a truck as you drive three hours through Death Valley in the middle of Summer).