The tragedy did not come alone. There were several notices of irregularities in the filming of the western Rust before Alec Baldwin accidentally killed the production’s director of photography with a bullet that should have been a blank on Thursday. The homicide has uncovered a series of accusations by the team that participated in the filming of the film in Santa Fe, capital of the State of New Mexico (United States), among them, that a similar incident took place a few days before, when twice as many Baldwin fired twice with weapons that were supposed to be unloaded. Long hours of work, non-compliance with security protocols, unworthy conditions for an independent production, late payments and logistical problems are some of the issues that have aired in the hours after the death of Halyna Hutchins, 42-year-old filmmaker from Ukrainian origin.
An affidavit in the hands of the local police indicates that an assistant to Joel Souza, director of the film, was in charge of verifying the three firearms that were used in the fatal sequence. According to detectives from the office of the sheriff from Santa Fe, the assistant made sure there were no real bullets in the chamber of the pistols and yelled “Cold weapon!” (downloaded) after review. It was he who passed the gun to Baldwin to rehearse a sequence that has forever changed the career of one of Hollywood’s most veteran actors. A single projectile killed Hutchins, who was crouching before a monitor preparing the shot, and wounded Souza, 48, who was next to him, in the collarbone and is out of danger.
Souza declared on Saturday afternoon that he felt “devastated” by the death of his “friend and colleague” Halyna Hutchins. “She was kind, vibrant, incredibly talented, she fought to achieve what I was looking for and pushed me to do better,” the director said in the statement. He also said he was moved by the expressions of affection and solidarity that he has received from the entire Santa Fé community and from colleagues from the world of cinema. Souza did not provide any details about the accident and so far no charges have been filed, but police continue to gather information and interview witnesses. The person responsible for the weapons in the filming has been identified as a 24-year-old woman who has not offered any statement to the media.
After the shooting, the 63-year-old Baldwin, still unaware of the damage he had caused, began repeatedly yelling that how was it possible to have a real gun on the set. “In all my career years I have never been handed a hot gun!” (loaded with real bullets), said the actor, according to a witness account of the scene to Showbiz 411, a media specialized in Hollywood information. Baldwin, also the film’s producer, went to the hospital to learn first-hand about the health of the victims. Hutchins had died during the transfer.
Investigators have cordoned off the location at the Bonanza Creek ranch, located southwest of Santa Fe. The investigations have focused on determining what type of bullet was the one that killed the filmmaker and how it is possible that the gun was loaded. Film productions that use firearms are required to follow strict security protocols and authorities have yet to determine which ones failed in Rust. Police obtained a court order on Friday to search for evidence in the area of the tragedy and to understand how events unfolded.
After a few hours in shock, Baldwin broke his silence and made a statement on social media. “There are no words to convey my shock and sadness over the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of all of us,” said the actor on Twitter, who was photographed crying outside of the authorities offices. “I am fully cooperating with the investigation,” he added.
With the death of Hutchins, details of a chaotic shoot that began on October 6 came to light (they had been 12 of the 21 scheduled days). Six camera technicians and their assistants threatened to abandon the production of Rust hours before the fatal accident. The team was upset with working conditions that lasted up to 13 hours. Three of the operators they pointed out after the accident Los Angeles Times that among the workers there was concern because the security protocols for the use of weapons had not been followed. Two cameramen, who were not identified by name, said there was another incident on Saturday, when Baldwin’s stunt double accidentally fired twice after being told the gun was “cold.”
“There must be an investigation into what happened,” one of the team members told the Los Angeles newspaper. “There were no security meetings nor were we assured that it would not happen again. The only thing they wanted is for us to hurry up with the filming, ”he added. At least one of the producers, according to his testimony, was alerted that security measures were not being followed. The production company issued an official statement in which it assured that it had not been informed of this concern. “Although we were not officially advised of any complaints related to weapons or security, we will carry out an internal investigation while production is paralyzed,” it was reported.
The future of Rust It is uncertain. The production company has reported that filming is suspended until November and that they will provide psychological support to those affected by the tragedy. The climate of dissatisfaction of the technicians, however, opens the possibility of an avalanche of lawsuits in a society as litigious as that of the United States.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.