BBC Online Visits Artem - How To Blow Up A Car And Other Film Special Effects‹ Back to News


A few weeks ago, we held our annual Open Day at our West London workshop, where we showed off Artem's range of capabilities – from pyrotechnics, atmospherics and prosthetics, to animatronics, mechanical rigs, special costume and high-end model-making.

On the day, we were visited by Alex Stanger from BBC News, who was interested to find out some of the secrets behind special effects. She asked Mike Kelt how to blow up and car and how to create a bullet hit on an actor, and also also spoke to Emily Pooley, one of our lovely technicians, to find out how to apply prosthetic wounds.

Prosthetic wounds 

You can watch the BBC Online video by clicking here.

Blowing up a car:

Safety considerations are obviously fundamental when it comes to blowing something up.  Mike says: ‘The first thing you do when you approach a car [before exploding it] is get the fuel out, so the petrol tank has to come out and all the fuel line. After that, you try to take out as much of the flammable material in it – the lining etc – unless it’s going to be in shot, which it isn’t in this case, so all that’s been stripped out.

This one’s going to flip, so there’s a big mortar in the back there, which will flip the car forward. And then there’s various charges which are really there for visual effect – so fireball and all the rest of it, round about it.’

Blowing up a car - pyrotechnics 

How to create a bullet hit:

Mike also explains how to make a create a bullet hit effect. He says:

‘To make a bullet hit – the costume department will give you the costume. You first of all look at the material – how strong is it, what are you going to put in it?’

Mike went on to say that, in essence, ‘you get a protective plate which is made of metal – it’s got foam on the back and you may end up adding more foam.  Onto the front of that you put a small detonator and a blood bag – you can make blood bags in all sorts of shapes and sizes – and then that is attached to the inside of the coat. 

You strip away all the lining so it’s as thin as possible and you might even grab a small grater, like a nutmeg grater, and grate away the costume on the inside.  In the pocket is a little receiver – this just sits in the pocket and allows the actor to move around and do whatever action the director wants. And once you arm it, the whole thing is radio controlled.’

Bullet hit 'getting shot' competition

Watch the BBC Online video to see the car blowing up (and spectacularly flipping over in the process!), to see Emily's gruesome wounds, and to see our willing volunteers taking part in our 'getting shot' competition. All in a day's work...!