Some questions persist but light is beginning to shed on the fatal accident on the set of the film in New Mexico in which Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun Thursday that he killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded the director, Joe Souza. That light points to security issues on set that had sparked complaints and protests, including the resignation of six members of the photography team the same day of the tragedy. In addition, a official document ensures that Baldwin was told upon handing over the gun that it was unloaded.
The problems of breach of security protocols that are common in filming, including inspections of weapons, has revealed the ‘Los Angeles Times’ with information provided by sources from the team of ‘Rust’, a low-budget film by Hollywood standards.
Already on Saturday another accidental discharge of a weapon had occurred on the set, although in that case there were no victims. According to witnesses quoted by the Los Angeles newspaper, Baldwin’s double was given a gun that day and, like the actor on Thursday, was told that it was unloaded. He fired two projectiles. At least one camera operator complained to the production manager by sending him a text message saying that conditions were “super unsafe”. “There should have been an investigation into what happened. There were no security meetings. There were no guarantees that it would not happen again. All they wanted was run, run, run”, A member of the team has told the ‘Times’.
It was not the only problem in a shoot that began on October 6. At a time when industry workers have been on the brink of going on strike negotiating to improve their working conditions, the filming of ‘Rust’ had been cause for complaints. There were protests by problems with payments and by long working hours and failure to keep promises about accommodation near the filming location that required 80-kilometer car transfers after 12 and 13 hour filming.
Those complaints, such as those about the lack of gun safety, prompted six people on the photography team to leave the shoot Thursday in protest. The camera operators and their assistants arrived at 6.30 in the morning and began to collect their equipment to leave. Those workers, members of a union, and for whom the own Hutchins had been advocating for safer working conditions, They were replaced by unaffiliated staff to the union to keep rolling. Hours later, before two in the afternoon, the tragedy occurred.
Some details of how the incident developed thanks to a afidávit prepared by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office to obtain judicial permission to search for evidence and materials at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, where ‘Rust’ was filmed. The weapons manager in production, 24-year-old Hannah Gutierrez, the daughter of a veteran of the profession and who had recently completed her first film, left three weapons in a cart outside the stave church where a scene was to be shot. The assistant director Dave Halls He picked up one of those guns, took it to Baldwin, and told him “cold gun”, cold weapon, the expression that used to indicate that a weapon is unloaded, both live and blank ammunition.
Halls, according to the affidavit, also did not know that the gun was loaded. The document does not specify what type of ammunition he had and Juan Ríos, a sheriff’s spokesman, told ‘The New York Times’ on Friday afternoon that “a focus of the investigation is (to know) what type of projectile it was and how it got there ”.
According to a source from the filming to the ‘Los Angeles Times’, Hutchins y Souza They were with a camera operator preparing the shot and he has not yet retired to the area where the filming is normally followed through monitors. Baldwin once removed the gun from the holster without incident. In the second time in which he repeated the action, however, the gun went off and the ammunition went out towards the operator, Hutchins and Souza. The projectile, according to the Times, struck the cinematographer near the shoulder, who immediately fell to the ground, and then hit the director.
Rust Movie Productions, la producer from the movie, issued a release on Friday in which it is stated that “the security of cast and crew is the main priority ”in the company. It also ensures, in contrast to what has been reported by team sources cited by the Los Angeles Times, that they had not received “any official complaint regarding the safety of weapons or props on the set” and a “Internal review”Of the proceedings while filming remains paralyzed, which was due to conclude in November. “We will continue to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and offer mental health services to the cast and crew during this tragic moment, ”he concludes.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.