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In the movie Contagion, Jennifer Ehle's character is shown giving herself an injection.

This got me wondering - are the injections they perform on-screen real? Do needles actually penetrate the skin and flesh of the actors?

If not (and it does seem unlikely), what techniques are commonly used to fake it? Do they have trick syringes, fake skin, CG?

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Hard to answer this in a general sense. Some actors absolutely won't do it, others (Jackass) absolutely won't pass the chance. – Gert Arnold Dec 16 '11 at 16:09
Jackass is a really exceptional case , its not really a mainstream movie. – Gautam Dec 16 '11 at 16:55
@GautamK "Not really a mainstream movie"? In the US, it absolutely is. There were three Jackass movies, grossing $11.2 million, $72 mil, $118 mil respectively in box office revenue. And it was a long-running popular TV show before that. I don't care for any of the Jackass movies, but they're definitely mainstream. – Laura Dec 16 '11 at 19:58
I also feel like this question is impossible to answer. They are probably real syringes for the most part, but I doubt any of the actors are receiving actual injections. However, it's impossible to make a blanket statement about all movies. – Laura Dec 16 '11 at 20:00
@Laura : The stats are all fine , I have seen all 3 Jackass movies, and a few episodes , But still it is not your usual everyday movie, it is one of those rare exceptional cases, That is what I meant when I said not mainstream. – Gautam Dec 16 '11 at 23:51

I remember talking at some stage to a makeup artist from a film set - they had spring-loaded syringes where the actual needle would retract into the body of the syringe - this way they get a realistic pucker effect where the needle presses against the skin

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Ok the syringe is spring loaded , may be like this [] But if the syringe retracts how is it possible to inject(Press the plunger) – Gautam Dec 19 '11 at 1:09
I would have thought once the needle eventually pierces the skin the puckering would disappear. – jontyc Dec 19 '11 at 14:03
@GautamK Maybe the plunger has a tiny hole for the needle? – Dragos Jan 27 '12 at 11:37
Many of the really cheap ones (I really doubt they would use them in big budget films) just have some of paper or material that is the same colour as the fluid that is to be injected inside. When the plunger is pressed down, this material folds up under a cover at the "business end" of the syringe. I've only ever explicitly spotted this once, during a performance of one of the Bottom live shows. Of course, the fluid can be added to the syringe during post-production using CGI. – Jamie Taylor Jul 9 '12 at 8:39

While I do not have any official sources, I do not see them getting any actual syringes for a movie. It is fake as with most whether they do it with CGI (which seems a bit over the top when you have) trick syringes, or I've seen before where they just imply the shot with a cut-away.

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I am late to this discussion, but the Weapons Specialist Ltd company makes retractable syringes and all sorts of other cool props. The website include a video of the syringe in action.

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