Fast and Furious Film Makers Fined RM4.6mil Over Stuntman’s Brain Injury

The Fast Saga filmmakers, FF9 Pictures, have been fined $1 million (RM4,647,500) following a stunt gone awry, resulting in stuntman Joe Watts suffering brain damage and a broken skull during the filming at Warner Brothers’ studios in Leavesden, Hertfordshire, in July 2019.

Details of the Incident:

During a staged fight scene on a balcony, Joe Watts, a seasoned stuntman, fell 25ft head-first onto the concrete ground when his safety line detached as he was thrown over the shoulder of another performer. The incident occurred due to changes in the stunt routine, with the safety line failing to secure Watts during the second take, leading to life-changing injuries.

Health and Safety Failings:

FF9 Pictures, a subsidiary of Universal Pictures, admitted to health and safety failings in Luton Magistrates’ Court. The court heard that the safety line, which had worked during the first take, was not properly checked between takes. The judge criticised the decision to alter the stunt “at the last minute” and noted that Watts was “fortunate to be alive.” The matting on the set was not adjusted despite changes in the routine from rehearsals.

Legal Consequences:

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the prosecution against FF9 Pictures, stating that the company had “no system for double checking that the link had been properly engaged and tightened.” The absence of proper crash matting to mitigate the consequences of an unintended fall following changes to the set and stunt sequence was also highlighted.

Sentencing and Industry Impact:

District judge Talwinder Buttar handed the $1 million fine to FF9 Pictures, emphasising the seriousness of the health and safety failings. The judge’s remarks highlighted the astonishing oversight in failing to adjust the matting despite changes in the routine. The incident highlights the importance of rigorous safety protocols in filmmaking, particularly during high-risk stunt sequences.

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