Seth Rossman’s IMDB page lists high-profile television projects like Slasher, Man Seeking Woman and Republic of Doyle, but it takes a keen eye to spot his work. If he does things right, you never see him at all. That’s because Rossman and his staff at Gunslingers supply the firearms, police and military wardrobe and vehicles, and fabricate items to be used by the men and ladies in the cast.
But Rossman (on the right in the top photo) didn’t start out in the industry working with real and fake firearms. After a gig in web development, he switched over to a career in make-up artistry, then as a private makeup artist to Seth Green, Eva Longoria, Cary Elwes, Kim Coates and more before a horrible accident sent him on this path.
Tell me about the accident that lead to you beginning Gunslingers.
Seth Rossman: I was down in the Dominican Republic working with Eva Longoria and I was struck down by a drunk driver. I was headed back to base camp and riding quads because we were working in the jungle. I was sitting at a red light and then advanced into the intersection and a local on a motorcycle took me out. He shattered my right leg from hip to ankle and it was a couple of days before they were able to get me out of the country. A couple of surgeries and a year and a half later I was walking. I was going through the surgeries and the rehab and was being told by the doctors that I needed to be realistic. They originally told me I might lose the leg. Then it was I’d keep the leg but it would never work. Then it was that the leg would work, but never properly. Then they said it would work properly, but I’d never get 15 hours a day on it. They were right about that.
As a makeup artist, the ability for me to chase an actor around a film set for 14 a day was gone. I was sitting on my couch trying to figure out what to do. I had a friend in the industry that was an armourer and I had been on set with him—we were both working on the same project—and he’d been asking if anyone could help him because he was short-staffed. I had wrapped my work and was just hanging out. He needed someone with a firearms license to help him and I did. I helped him through the night and at the end of it he handed me an envelope with cash in it. Fast-forward a year and a half and I realized maybe there was something to that. I looked at the industry and started asking around and was told there was room for another armaments company because everyone was using the same houses.
What were some challenges you faced?
We had to obtain all of the licenses, so there were a lot of hoops to jump through with the government to get those. That took a little over a year. Once that was done, we were sitting with an empty warehouse. We needed to figure out what to house to be able to service the industry. We did market research and figured out what the most popular firearms are and went to the Internet Movie Firearms Database. Then we went out and invested in the firearms and then modified them for film and TV. Then we needed to train everyone on how to work with them, take them to set, service them on set and send them out.
Then people started to ask about police belts, police uniforms. To do a scene with a police officer you need a gun, a uniform and a car. We had to expand to cover all of that. We have a vast firearms collection, a huge wardrobe selection, a massive props selection, all revolving around law enforcement, military and tactical stuff.
When you’re on-set, you need to educate these folks.
When we get to set, we introduce ourselves to the powers-that-be and check in. We explain we’re the armourer for the day and, if possible, can speak to the actor or actress for half an hour so that you get the performance you want. We meet whoever that is and go over the safety and protocol procedures. That always leads into education with regard to how they’re holding the gun and then they start picking our brain.
Let’s talk about specific projects; what did you do for the folks at Slasher?
Slasher brought us in to handle their armaments solution, so we came in to work with Dean McDermott for the pistol work on the show and provided all the firearms. We provided the gunfire effects on the show and all of the weapons that you see. You’ll see a scene involving cinderblocks and we made those, there’s a scene with a baseball bat and we made that; we manufactured all of those in-house.
What are the cinderblocks made out of?
Foam. We have moulds and produced them.
How has HDTV presented a challenge when it comes to making something look realistic?
When it comes to making props, what we make is really high-end. The cost isn’t cheap, but you’re paying for a prop that can be put two feet in front of a camera and you can’t tell the difference.
What other projects have you got on the go?
We just provided the wardrobe solution for Wolf Cop 2 and the entire law enforcement solution for CTV’s Cardinal.