Fake Gun Film Scene Draws Real Response From Police

By: Zac Schultz
By: Zac Schultz

Madison: UW student filmmaker Matt Siller directed a scene Wednesday with a fake gun and it drew a real response from police.

Siller says they were packed up and ready to leave when police showed up.

"He said, 'Get up against the wall.' It was pretty quick. They asked us where the gun was and we're like, 'We don't have a gun.' And they're like, 'Where's the gun?' We said the fake gun is in the truck."

Siller was directing three classmates and a friend in his short film about a drug dealer. They were on top of a downtown parking ramp and someone in a nearby building saw the gun and called the police.

"It would have very visible. It was definitely pointed at someone. It's a realistic looking gun," says Siller.

Officer Mike Hanson says this could have been a tragic situation. "If somebody can't hear or they're still waving a gun or holding it to someone's head as part of the film we are taking all of that into account in determining whether we have to use deadly force."

Officer Hanson says filmmakers are required to notify police if they're going to use a fake gun in a scene. "That way we can alert officers that are working that day and alert supervisors and alert the 911 center."

SIller says he didn't call because he didn't expect to use a gun that day. "The majority of this scene wasn't shot with a gun. It was like a 10 second little shot. Yeah, I should have thought of that. To be honest it's my fault, but it was so quick."

Each of the five men were cited for disorderly conduct and fined $412. Siller says he's learned a lesson, and he just hopes his friends will continue to work with him so he can finish his film.

This isn't the first incident of police responding to actors using a fake weapon. Just a few weeks ago police responded to the Atwood Community Center with reports of someone holding a gun to a woman's head. It was just a scene from a play, but police say they have to react as if it's a real weapon.

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