Words by Connor Drescher, Staff Writer
Trigger warnings for violence and death.
A tragic accident on the set of the new film ‘Rust’ has resulted in the death of the film’s director of photography, Halyna Hutchins – and the injury of the film’s director.
Hundreds attended a vigil for Hutchins last night in Albuquerque, New Mexico, near to where the film was being made.
A prop gun, used in the shooting of the film, was discharged by co-writer and actor Alec Baldwin, fatally shooting Hutchins in the chest, while the film’s director, Joel Souza, was injured in the shoulder but later released from hospital. It is unclear at this time precisely how the shooting was able to occur and investigations are ongoing.
Mr. Baldwin, 63, was seen in tears outside the sheriff’s office following the incident. Police confirmed that he had willingly given a statement and was cooperating with the investigation.
According to court documents, assistant director Dave Halls allegedly shouted ‘cold gun’ before the firearm was handed to Baldwin for use in the scene – a term which means that no live ammunition is present in the gun and is therefore safe for use. Documents filed in Santa Fe suggested that neither Halls nor Baldwin knew that the gun was loaded with live rounds when it was used.
An anonymous worker on set has claimed however that there were two prior accidental discharges of firearms, leading to growing concerns over the safety of the project. At least one camera operator had complained about gun safety during filming and the same day that Ms. Hutchins was shot, several others walked off set, protesting the working conditions amid fears of safety protocols not being adhered to.
Previous safety concerns about Mr. Halls in particular, an industry veteran, were allegedly raised in 2019 by another worker. Rust movie productions said in response that it was “not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set” and promised an internal review of its safety precautions.
Tributes have poured in for the 42-year-old after the news broke that she had been killed during a rehearsal for a scene which required Mr. Baldwin to point his gun at the camera. No live ammunition was required for the scene, however there have been unconfirmed reports that some crew members were using the gun in question to shoot live ammunition for recreational target practice – leading some to question whether this is how live ammunition was left in the gun when it was handed to Mr. Baldwin.
Halyna Hutchins was a rising star in the film industry, having graduated from the American Film Institute Conservatory in 2015. She had previously worked on British documentary productions in Eastern Europe and was described as an ‘immense talent’.