Of all the legendary films that Hollywood has turned out, it is safe to say that a large chunk of them are mob movies: Scarface, Goodfellas, The Godfather, Casino, The Departed etc. One could say that “Mob Film” is its own film genre entirely. One could also say that those movies could not exist in the same capacity that they currently do if they did not feature violence. After all, violence was and is an integral part of the mob and the films that tell its gruesome stories. If you love these movies and the action that comes with them as much as I do and you happen to find yourself in Los Angeles, California, then there is a historical walking tour with a twist that I think you will love. It features an invention that includes my Air Squib, but taken to a new level by Mr David Leonard. He created a memorable experience using safe special effects, electronic GPS wizardry, and creative ingenuity.
The FataLAtour Experience (get it?) is a walking tour in Los Angeles that guides you to several locations in Hollywood where true and not so true, gruesome murders of Mafia members took place. Some of the murders that the tour covers are fictitious in nature and merely locations where movie scenes from various mob films were shot at. The tour utilizes smartphones, earphones and the Air Squib. Have you ever seen a film where someone gets shot? Kind of a rhetorical question since most films nowadays feature gunfire in one capacity or another. If so, then there is a chance that you may have seen this air-powered bullet hit simulator in action. It is called an Air Squib. It is a safe bullet-hit simulator that blows blood through a person’s shirt in order to simulate a gunshot wound in many films, TV shows and stage performances.
David Leonard had the brilliant idea to start The FataLAtour Experience, merging new safe technology into an entertainment pack worn by a tourist. Towards the end of the tour, as you approach one of the final kill sights, the GPS in the guest’s phone triggers the Air Squib to go off and blood explodes (without any explosion) from underneath the guest’s shirt. It is an immersive effect when the device goes off, which creates a lot of suspense, anticipation and also creates an exciting twist to an already exciting and exhilarating tour. In this totally fictitious way, you can be a part of the Mafia’s gruesome legacy without the fatal after-effect. Though I have seen many creative and practical uses of my product, this is without a doubt the most innovative use of the air squib, and for that reason, I think it could be my favourite. And remember David created this almost 10 years ago!
The app-centric tour, cleverly integrated with the GPS function was part of David’s graduate thesis at the UCLA Media Arts Program where he attended school. It is pretty cool to see what was essentially a school assignment and a visionary, technologically apt mind can create. The bullet hit technology is totally harmless and makes for a fun and safe experience like no other. It is a pneumatic device, meaning it is powered by air. It is also very silent, so it provides just the right kind of surprise without scaring the guest or surroundings too badly. It also does no harm to clothes, making it the perfect technology for a tour like this one.
David not only came up with this brilliant idea but was able to execute it flawlessly and with much success. Usually, it is film, tv or stage actors that make the most use of the air squib and with good reason. It is, after all, geared towards a niche market – the film and tv industry.
No description of Davids work is complete without mentioning our wonderful Special Effects colleague in L.A. ”Roger George Special Effects” at https://rogergeorge.com/collections/bullet-hit-effects. Kim and academy nominee Thaine took care of David, showing how the unit could be used, but it was David that used the potential and made the units interact.
So, if you are planning on booking a trip to Los Angeles or maybe live there already, you should definitely check out The FataLAtour Experience. Not only will you learn a thing or two, but you will also have a blast (no pun intended) getting a little dirty along the way. It’s a little mob history mixed with a little Hollywood. All of this makes for a fun afternoon in the City of Angels that you are guaranteed to remember for the rest of your life.
See a video from Bus #2 here: https://vimeo.com/42804598
Why not check out Davids website https://www.davidleonard.tv/ If you are looking for an amalgamation of technical wizardry and artistic creations examining the fringes of technology, current events and journalism in California, David is your man!