Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally struck by a bullet from a prop gun fired by Alec Baldwin on the set of the Western movie Rust. In the days since the incident, we have a clearer sense of how the tragedy happened — and how it could have been avoided.
In the hours before the shooting, many crew members walked off the set in protest of terrible working conditions, including “long hours, long commutes, and waiting for their paychecks” and numerous accidental prop gun discharges. A search warrant obtained by the Los Angeles Times also revealed how the gun came into Baldwin’s possession.
[Director Joel] Souza said three people were handling the gun for the scene: armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, then assistant director Dave Halls, who handed the gun to Baldwin, the affidavit said. Halls had taken one of three prop guns set up by Gutierrez Reed on a cart left outside the structure because of COVID-19 restrictions, the affidavit said. Halls did not know live rounds were in the gun when he handed it to Baldwin, and Halls yelled “cold gun,” according to the affidavit.
“Cold gun” is an on-set term intended to indicate that the weapon did not have any live rounds, but “as far as [Souza] knows, no one gets checked for live ammunition on their person prior and after the scenes are being filmed,” the affidavit read. “The only thing checked are the firearms to avoid live ammunition being in them.”
Following a lunch break, the crew and cast returned to set, and as Baldwin was explaining how he was going to draw his gun (which may have “previously been used by crew members for target practice off-set, using real bullets”) and “where his arm would be when he pulled the gun from the holster, it discharged,” according to the Times.
Souza was shot in the shoulder, Hutchins in the chest. She was pronounced dead at the University of New Mexico Hospital. And if you’d care to learn more about how guns are supposed to be handled on a set, Mark Stevens put together a great one here.
Several folks in my life have asked my take on the #Rust shooting. As a 1st AD, I have some insight. This is not one mistake or even just one person. This is a fault of culture and failure to respect the filmmaking process. 1/14
— Mark Stevens (@markcstevens_) October 25, 2021
(Via the Los Angeles Times)