[imagesource: Swen Studios via Reuters]
On Thursday, 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins (above) was tragically shot dead on the set of the film Rust.
Director Joel Souza was also injured, after Alec Baldwin discharged what was supposed to be a “cold gun”, indicating that the weapon did not have live rounds.
Baldwin was reportedly preparing to film a scene in which he pulls a gun out of a holster, with Hutchins accidentally struck as she huddled around a monitor lining up her next camera shot.
According to an affidavit for a search warrant for the movie set filed by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, Baldwin was handed “one of three prop guns by assistant director David Halls that were set up in a cart by an armourer for the movie”.
Halls did not know there were live rounds in the gun, the affidavit said.
But when the actor fired the gun, a live round hit Hutchins, 42, in the chest and wounded Souza, 48, who was nearby, according to the affidavit.
Hutchins was pronounced dead at the hospital after being airlifted, the affidavit says.
Halyna’s father, Anatoly Androsovych, has come out publicly to state that he places no blame on Baldwin, saying “it is the responsibility of the props people who handle the guns.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that just hours before the shooting, six camera crew workers had walked off the set to protest working conditions:
The camera operators and their assistants were frustrated by the conditions surrounding the low-budget film, including complaints about long hours, long commutes and waiting for their paychecks, according to three people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to comment.
Safety protocols standard in the industry, including gun inspections, were not strictly followed on the “Rust” set near Santa Fe, the sources said. They said at least one of the camera operators complained last weekend to a production manager about gun safety on the set.
Hutchins had actually been advocating for safer conditions on set and became tearful when the camera crew left.
In a previous incident on the set, Baldwin’s stunt double had accidentally fired two rounds after being told that the gun he was handed was “cold”.
Rather than investigating how this happened, crew members who spoke on condition of anonymity said no safety meetings were held:
A colleague was so alarmed by the prop gun misfires that he sent a text message to the unit production manager. “We’ve now had 3 accidental discharges. This is super unsafe,” according to a copy of the message reviewed by The Times.
The shooting incident itself has also been described in greater detail:
Baldwin removed the gun from its holster once without incident, but the second time he did so, ammunition flew toward the trio around the monitor.
The projectile whizzed by the camera operator but penetrated Hutchins near her shoulder, then continued through to Souza.
Attention has now turned towards the person in charge of overseeing the gun props, known as the armourer, 24-year-old Hannah Gutierrez-Reed.
She is the daughter of renowned armourer Thell Reed, and recently completed The Old Way, starring Nicolas Cage.
Concerns regarding her approach to gun safety had been raised on that set, reports The Daily Beast:
…filming on the set of her last movie was briefly stopped after she allegedly gave a gun to an 11-year-old actress without checking it properly.
“She was a bit careless with the guns, waving it around every now and again,” said a source…
“There were a couple times she was loading the blanks and doing it in a fashion that we thought was unsafe.”
Some criticism has also been levelled at Halls, the assistant director, with one source saying he is “supposed to be our last line of defence and he failed us”.
…script supervisor Mamie Mitchell also seemed to reference Halls as she urgently asked a dispatcher to send an ambulance to the set at Bonanza Creek Ranch, on the outskirts of Santa Fe.
Mitchell can be overheard telling someone nearby, “this fucking AD that yelled at me at lunch asking about revisions, this motherfucker. Did you see him lean over my desk and yell at me? He’s supposed to check the guns. He’s responsible for what happened.”
Ultimately, it appears that multiple lines of defence failed, and the result is the tragic death of Hutchins, who leaves behind a husband and son.
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