Boomershoot to provide special effects for a movie

So I got this email today…

It’s just a couple of college kids making a movie and they need a car blown up.  There were some emails exchanged and then we ended up chatting online for hours (until just a few minutes ago).  Ry and I, being nerds, wanted to encourage reality based stuff.  Such as no fireballs unless there really is excess fuel in the explosion.  And the sound arrives significantly AFTER the explosion occurs (at 700 yards, boomershoot range, it’s about 2 seconds).  Only if the camera is right in the middle of the explosion would it happen at the same time.  They probably aren’t going to go for it.  They want Hollywood reality, not physical reality.    Okay.  We can do that.  The first couple of emails follow.  We’ll be blogging about the project as we know more.  They should have a website and trailer up before long.

From: Gideon Oakes
Sent: Wednesday, January 26, 2005 10:17 AM
Subject: Filming at Boomershot 2005

Hi Joe,
My name is Gideon Oakes. My buddy and I are students down here at BYU-Idaho, and we’re putting together a feature-length action movie called “The Moment.” In the film, there is a scene in which a car is supposed to blow up. I’ve visited your website and looked at everything, especially Project Fireball, with my eyes wide open. That kind of a fireball is exactly what we want. We’re not looking to demolish the car, but we want to have a spectacular fireball blow through the windows and up into the air.
I’ve been trying to figure out how we could do this on our own, but the prospect of experimenting on blowing a car up (with no prior pyrotechnical knowledge) is somewhat of a frightening thing to me. So that’s why I started looking for people who already knew how to do this kind of thing. When I came upon your site, I was first thrilled to see someone doing what you do. You guys are definitely my kind of people. I’m from South Dakota, where we too take our 2nd Amendment rights very seriously. Then when I saw that you did this all in Idaho, I nearly fell out of my chair. Of all 50 states, you’re in the same state as us.
So, I guess what I would like to know is, what would it take for you guys to put a titanium powder firebomb in a gutted out car and blast it at Boomershoot 05? We don’t know how far our movie is going to go, but we know that having this kind of special effect would definitely help its prospects out. Not to mention, it would be a heck of a lot of fun to do. 🙂
Please let me know if you’re interested, so we can begin working on coordinating this project.
Gideon Oakes
BRP Digital Media

From: Joe Huffman
Sent: Wednesday, January 26, 2005 10:40 AM
To: Gideon Oakes
Cc: Ry Jones
Subject: Re: Filming at Boomershot 2005

Rather than doing it at Boomershoot 2005 when my crew and I are very, very busy I would recommend some other time. Some weekend with a couple weeks notice would be probably work for us. Some of the issues I see are:

Do you have a car? If it wasn’t scrap before, it will be afterwards.

Cleanup. Unless you film it where you can just leave it the car and any pieces that fall off will have to be cleaned up.

Cost. If you can travel to us we can be had very cheaply–perhaps free if you give us credit in your movie. If we have to travel there then we would expect some compensation.

If we travel there do you have a place where this sort of activity will not upset the neighbors? Houses may shake a couple miles away. You might be able to mitigate this by inviting them to watch…

We will detonate it with rifle fire. If we travel to you we will need a safe place to shoot a high powered rifle.

Equipment risk. Depending on how close your camera(s) must be there is some risk of them getting hit by something. We can discuss this in more detail to give you some idea but if you decide to put them inside of the radius we give you (probably about 200 yards) then you take the liability.

Looking forward to hearing more about your project.

Oh, one more thing… we don’t do ‘bombs’ or ‘firebombs’. We do “reactive targets”–some of which happen to create fireballs. Talking about ‘bombs’ will get you turned over to the ATF, the FBI, and/or various intelligence agencies.



7 thoughts on “Boomershoot to provide special effects for a movie

  1. Hey Joe, if they do come to Boomershoot 05 for the demo, you could auction off the detonating shot to the highest bidder and donate the money to Mr. Econ’s Lancer Memorial Fund.

    I don’t know how much I’d be willing to bid just yet, but if you can secure this and then send a notice to the attendees to bring cash, I’m thinking you might be able to eek out a couple of hundred bucks extra for the Lancers.

  2. I had thought about the appeal to the general public of blowing up a car but it can’t be done at the Boomershoot for several reasons.

    1) I expect shooting the scene will be an all day event.

    2) It will need to be done several time from different angles and there are actors involved running away from the car.

    3) Car parts might go flying as far as 200 yards and can’t be done at the Boomershoot site because the field is used for hay and metal parts lost in the grass could damage the farm equipment or animals that eat the hay.

    They have already said they want to do it at the gravel pit where we do some of our tests. See to see the place they are planning on.

    Thanks for the suggestion but it just wouldn’t work at Boomershoot 2005.

  3. Hi Joe,

    I am a special effects professional, doing this very thing for the movie/TV industry for almost 20 years. I wasn’t concerned about your exploding car effort until you mentioned that there would be actors involved. That moves this whole thing into a whole new category.

    When we do this sort of thing professionally there is a very long checklist of things that have to be just right; the sort of things that are not normally thought of unless you have experience and training in this field. As soon as there is even the smallest potential for harm to a person the rules change drastically. In fact, you wil likely find that you run afoul of the law in this matter. Special Effects people are licensed by State and Federal authorities not only because we handle explosives, but also as a check that we have received appropriate training to enable us to use these explosives in the presence of actors.

    I don’t want to rain on your parade, but I would hate to see you get yourself in trouble with the law. You might want to do some checking with your State Film Commission and they might be able to put you in touch with a local Special Effects guy who would be willing to come out on the day and sign off on what you want to do.

    Good Luck

  4. Roy, Thanks so much for the tip on possible legal repercussions. I’ll look into it. What we had planned was just filming them running away from the car, then placing the explosives, then filming the car explosion with all the crew and actors 200+ yards away.

    Thanks again.

  5. Hi Joe,

    I’m glad I could help you with my information. I would hate to have to be watching for you on “America’s Most Wanted”, heh.

    Seriously, tho’, it also occurred to me later on that if you accept so much as a cold cheese sandwich from the filmmakers when you do this, it could qualify as renumeration, thereby requiring you to be a “professional Special Effects person”, with all the right licenses and such. It’s starting to get complicated, eh ?

    I do have a contact over in Whitehall, Montana; a longtime effects guy and very fine fellow who, if nothing else, could give you some pointers that could help you out. If you want his name and number just ask and I’ll email you.

    Good Luck and stay safe.

  6. As near as I could tell there are no Idaho laws regulating explosives or fireworks in relation to the film industry. The Idaho law, as near as I can tell, says, “Don’t hurt anyone or their property.” Oh, and be sure to label any explosives that you sell or store with your company name, the date of manufacture, and the contents.

    If you want to continue this conversation in email send it to

    Thanks again.

  7. Don’t worry, we won’t give Joe any cold cheese sandwiches. All jokes aside, a simple credit with a plug for Boomershoot wouldn’t count as renumeration, would it? And, as far as I can tell, Joe has a pretty good handle on the explosive laws (or lack thereof). Any more comments are very welcome, though. We don’t want to wind up on AMW either. 😉


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