‘Rust’ Film Crew Describes Gun Safety Issues On Set Days Before The Fatal Shootout Accident
Half a dozen camera crew at the New Mexico set of ‘Rust’ walked off the sets to protest against the terrible working conditions merely hours before actor Alec Baldwin shot a cinematographer in a fatal incident.
Three people (who have chosen to remain anonymous) told us the reasons for the earlier protests were regarding long working hours, delay in receiving paychecks, and long commutes to the set of the film. The low-budget film being shot near Santa Fe failed to abide by gun safety protocols in the industry which ultimately led to a series of unfortunate events.
Crew members reported two rounds were fired on Saturday by Baldwin’s stunt double after being told that the gun had no ammunition. “There should have been an investigation into what happened,” a crew member said. “There were no safety meetings. There was no assurance that it wouldn’t happen again. All they wanted to do was rush, rush, rush.”
Even after three accidental misfires, the ‘Rust’ production team and authority did not acknowledge responsibility until the actor misfired and caught media attention. After that, the crew informed, in an official statement, that they were reviewing the matter, cooperating with the Santa Fe investigation authorities, and offering mental health services to those in need.
The final incident took place while shooting a gunfight at the church on Thursday afternoon. It was the 12th day of the 21-day shoot. Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer, was getting ready for the next camera shot when a bullet misfired by the actor killed her. According to a source, Baldwin was preparing for a scene where he pulls out a gun from the holster.
The crew was yet to head to the video village, an area away from the shooting area. There the film crew views the scene on a monitor. Instead, the B-camera operator, Hutchins, and the movie’s director, Joel Souza, were all crouching, checking out the potential shots.
While the actor had successfully removed the gun from the holster once without any incident, the second time was different. He fired a shot at the trio standing nearby, and the bullet managed to hit Hutchins, penetrating her shoulders. The crewmembers applied pressure to her wound in an attempt to save her, but all in vain.
As per the court reports, the assistant director who handed the gun to Baldwin was unaware that it was loaded with live rounds. The assistant had assured the actor that it was safe to use, and hence, he remained unknowing. Hannah Reed, the armorer in charge of the gun props, was not available for comment.
Trouble over working conditions had been brewing on the sets for a couple of days. They had been promised hotel stays at Santa Fe but later on told to travel miles from Albuquerque to the set each day, spend 12-13 hours, and then return. Hutchins, the deceased cinematographer, advocated for her team’s safety conditions as many of her crew left.
A union camera crew had gathered to protest against the same, and it was only after 6 hours of their departure that the unfortunate incident took place. No charges were filed, and Baldwin has been cooperating with the Santa Fe police. He wrote a series of tweets, displaying his sadness and shock at what had transpired.
Local44 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, a union representing the prop masters, reported that “a live single round” killed the cinematographer. This was, however, disbanded by a source who said the union was not wholly aware of what “live” meant in the industry.