Kurt Sutter has created three hit shows over his career, and they all involve guns: The Shield, Sons of Anarchy, and the latter’s spin-off, Mayans M.C. He says they’ve all “had guns in almost every scene, but we never had an incident.” So while speaking to Deadline about inking a deal with Netflix to create The Abandons, a Western, he was inevitably asked about the tragic accidental shooting on the set of Rust, where star Alec Baldwin unwittingly fired a live round, wounding director Joel Souza and killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. And Sutter had some thoughts.
Asked about the presence of live rounds, Sutter went off. “That’s idiocy,” he said. “That is people that who don’t give a f*ck and yeah, are using the weapons to shoot tin cans or shoot rats, and that behavior.” (He was alluding to reports that crew members had used the prop guns that later killed Hutchins for target practice during downtime.)
Sutter was even surprised to learn about how the incident happened. “The fact that it was live ammo never even entered my mind until it came out in the press,” he told Deadline. “I couldn’t even wrap my brain around the fact that there was live ammo, in the vicinity of a set, right? That’s just negligence, people not paying attention or not having people who know what the protocol is and aren’t checking. That creates the perfect storm.”
Sutter doesn’t know exactly what happened on set that day, and an investigation is still underway. But he has some theories:
“My sense, from listening to the information that’s coming in, the letting go of union crew, and bringing on non-union crew, that those safety protocols were not met. You didn’t have people that either knew about them or thought they were important, right? Because, experientially, they didn’t know. Now, whose fault is that? Is it the producer’s fault? Is it the director’s fault? I don’t know where the blame lands, but to me, that’s the hole, right?”
Elsewhere in the interview, Sutter says he’s fine with the industry switching entirely to rubber guns, saying “you can do so much with CG now” to make them look real on-screen. As for how his sets have avoided similar incidents, the short version is: by following protocol and not cutting corners:
“Whatever the potential danger is, you have to have those protocols around, and it always has to be about how do we keep everybody safe? Look, we’ve seen the tragedy that comes with, f*ck it, just get the shot. We see the tragedy of that attitude, time and time and time and time again. It’s great to get the shot, but it’s not about the shot. It’s about the filmmaking experience and about the production. Maybe I’m oversensitive to it because of the world I live in, and it is a violent world, but you have to be hyper-vigilant about putting that safety first, and that can never be the f*cking corner you cut.”