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Monday 5 August 2013

Blog Exclusive! Stunt secrets of Corrie car crash

Here we go with another Coronation Street Blog exclusive.

We have a fab interview with Matt Owens from Rapid Fire Cover, Television and Event Fire Safety Specialists. Matt was the chap in charge of setting the Rovers Return on fire earlier this year and now he’s back to cause car crash carnage on Coronation Street.  Just try saying that with a mouthful of Deirdre's stuffed marrow!

Not content with setting the Rovers Return on fire a few weeks ago, Rapid Fire Cover are smashing up two of our favourite Corrie characters and putting one of them in a coma after a nasty car crash next week.

Q: Who’s driving the truck and the Nick’s Bistro van – are they stunt doubles, specially trained drivers for this sort of thing?

A: Both the truck and Nick’s van are driven by trained stunt drivers under the direction and supervision of the stunt co-ordinator. They are wearing the same costume etc. so that from a distance it looks like the actors that are driving.

Q: At what point do you stop the action with the actors and put the stunt drivers in? 
A: The stunt drivers are bought in for anything that may require precision driving or something that is deemed high risk. In general, the actors don't do the stunts, although the one shot where the van goes in to a spin is with a stunt driver at the wheel and Jack in the passenger seat. This sequence was rehearsed prior to Jack been put in the van. At the point of the lorry crashing in to the van, there were two dummies dressed the same as the actors inside as obviously the potential for the stunt to go wrong at this point is extremely high. Once the vehicles have stopped, been checked over and made safe, the actors will have been into make-up and are then carefully put inside the damaged vehicles as if they were there all along!

Q: Did you have to do more than one ‘take’ with the crash to get it filmed from different angles?
A: After the vehicles had been involved in the stunt, they were visibly damaged. This limits the amount of takes we can do but can also add pressure to the cast and crew to get it right first time. Extra cameras were bought in to capture the action from different angles and to ensure that the stunt was completed in one take. Like with anything, the more times you do something, you increase the likelihood of something going wrong. This is also the same for the scenes where we are cutting the vehicle up during the rescue, after we have taken a door off or cut away at the roof, it is very difficult to put it back together, we can’t just blue tack them back on!

Q: Obviously the stunt doubles and actors’ safety is paramount, but what about the vehicles, don’t they get smashed up all the time? Do you have mechanics who have to knock all the dents out after the shoot? What happens?
A: The vehicles are bought specifically for the stunt and prepared accordingly. We actually had two Bistro vans, one that was driveable and one that had been adapted for the stunt. Parts of the interior and airbag had been removed to reduce the risk to the stunt drivers and actors.  The battery was changed with a dry cell battery and the fuel tank had been replaced with a much smaller one to reduce the risk of fire. The driver’s side had also been reinforced so that the van did not crumple inwards upon impact and the lorry also had an extra bull bar fitted to protect the stunt driver that was inside. The vehicles are usually scrapped when they have been finished with as they would be unsafe to put back on the road. I don’t think there is much call for convertible vans anyway!

Q:  When the Rovers burned down, it seemed like there were lots of people on the set watching and being there for safety reasons. Were there just as many on the shoot for the car crash?

A: There were not as many people on standby for this as it wasn't deemed as high risk as the Rovers fire sequences, although it obviously posed its own risks. We had five firefighters and a fire appliance on standby carrying hydraulic cutting gear, backed up with battery operated cutting gear, plus a full inventory of rescue equipment.  An ambulance crew were also on standby incase we needed to get a stunt driver or anyone else for that matter into immediate medical care.

Q:  What sort of safety procedures did you have to put in place before, during and after a scene like this car crash?
A: As for every stunt we are involved in, everything is risk assessed and discussed months in advance. Whilst we understand there is a need for the desired footage, there cannot be a compromise to anybody's safety. Prior to the stunt taking place, all of the cast and crew are briefed on how the stunt will be carried out. Everything is checked thoroughly and rehearsed a couple of times to ensure that everyone is aware of what is going on and to establish safe areas where cast, crew, cameras and sound equipment can and cannot be located, as I have said previously, we only get one shot at this. During the stunt we are fully kitted up and on standby, so that we are available at a moment’s notice should the stunt goes wrong. Rapid Fire only employ serving firefighters, so we are obviously well rehearsed. Once the stunt has been carried out, with the stunt coordinator, we will firstly ensure that the stunt driver or actor are ok and have not sustained any injuries and then we will check the vehicles over and make sure they are safe and do not pose a risk.

Q:  Ooh, it sounds exciting!  Is there anything else you'd like to share?
A: Jack P Shepard (David Platt) is one of the funniest people I have had the pleasure of working with and Ben Price (Nick Tilsley) makes an amazing cup of tea!

Q:  Oh go on, give us some gossip from the set.
A: I have applied for the vacancy coming up at Weatherfield Fire Station,  my interview is next week, remember you heard it here first.... EXCLUSIVE!

I'm sorry if I have spoiled the illusion for any one! I think I may have given all of the trade secrets away here. Don't try this at home kids!

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Frosty the Snowman said...

All these "sensationalist" stories are becoming very old and tiring now, neither David nor Nick are leaving so will not be killed in the accident - cue more terrible acting from Gail and scenes in good old Weathy General. Leaves me cold.

Dolly Tubb said...

Vacancy at Weathy Fire Station? I wonder why.....?

Anonymous said...

Q. Car crash scenes in soaps have been done many times before. How is this one any different.

A. It's not. Really. Nothing different at all. Nick will walk away and so will David so it really is just a time waster.

Billy Niblick said...

Hmmm. Yes, the near-catastrophic car crash as the resolution of a story line involving tensions between warring siblings. Now where have we seen that before? The Connor brothers I believe? Both met sticky ends involving vehicles. But David Platt must have a PhD in surviving car crashes.

Anonymous said...

Great exclusive! I always enjoy these, thanks!

Anonymous said...

I thought I saw this last week?? Is my computer playing up?

Glenda Young said...

You did see it last week and it's been reposted on the front page of the blog today for those who missed it as it all happens tonight on Coronation Street!


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