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'Safety, Safety, Safety.. ' That's the Mantra on the Set
By John Millrany - February 21, 2001

The blockbuster movie Pearl Harbor won’t roar onto the screen until Memorial Day this year, but the Disney epic is sure to pack a wallop, at least in terms of dollars spent on production. "It’s just huge," says Manny Chavez, Safety Coordinator for the project.

(The film, released under the Buena Vista Motion Picture Group, is currently pegged to cost about $130 million, rich even by Hollywood super-pix standards.)

In terms of safety on the set—which ranges from Oahu to Mexico to London to Texas to L.A.—Chavez, a former California State Fire Marshal, has been as busy as a fighter pilot on war alert, bringing into play a full armamentarium on safety issues.

Chavez maintains that his associates leave little or nothing to chance to prevent human and property loss. "We continuously here at Disney stay on top of it better than any other company. We keep in close touch with all of our productions, because there are always lots of safety issues."

Chavez directs a task crew at subject locations. "We go out to the sets way before the film starts. A safety manual goes out to all the production participants. It’s a health and safety program that everybody signs off on."

While his counterparts at Disney’s Risk Management Department have important duties as well, their actions may seem a tad pedestrian compared to the safety-coordinator boys who jet around the globe to make sure that "nobody goes over the top," Chavez says.

Disney, like any movie production enterprise, is not exempt from unpredictable slip-ups in the movie-making process. Actors and stuntmen can fall victim to death or injury, and have, many times. That’s why movie sets might be jammed at any given time with agents from OSHA, fire and law enforcement agencies, environmental, etc., to ensure that all safety measures are in place--for there is always a lively jumble of players in the mix, from the directors, assistant directors, producers, actors, location managers, stunt and special effects coordinators, camera, sound, carpenter, lighting, grip, makeup, wardrobe, caterer…the whole shootin’ match.


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