Jae C. Hong / AP
SANTA FE, NM – Alec Baldwin shot dead a cinematographer on a film set in New Mexico with a gun that a crew member assured the actor was safe, a tragic mistake that occurred hours after some workers left work to protest production conditions and problems.
Assistant director Dave Halls grabbed an accessory pistol from a cart at a desert movie ranch and handed it to Baldwin during a Thursday rehearsal for the western movie “Rust,” court records show. Friday.
“Cold weapon,” Halls shouted, declaring the weapon did not carry live ammunition and was ready to fire.
But it was not. When Baldwin pulled the trigger, he unintentionally killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, and injured director Joel Souza, who was standing behind her inside a wooden chapel-like building.
A 911 call that alerted authorities to the shooting at Bonanza Creek Ranch outside of Santa Fe hints at panic on set, as detailed in a recording released by the Regional Emergency Communications Center. Santa Fe County.
“We accidentally filmed two people on a movie set by a prop gun, we need help immediately,” script supervisor Mamie Mitchell told an emergency dispatcher. “We were rehearsing and it went off, and I ran out, we all ran out.”
The dispatcher asked if the gun was loaded with a real bullet.
“I can’t tell you. We have two injuries,” Mitchell replied. “And that (expletive) AD (assistant director) who yelled at me at lunch, asking for revisions … He’s supposed to check the guns. He’s responsible for what happens on set.”
Halls did not immediately return phone and email messages requesting comment. The Associated Press was unable to contact Hannah Gutierrez, the film’s gunsmith, and several messages sent to Rust-affiliated production companies went unanswered on Friday.
The weapon Baldwin used was one of three that Gutierrez had placed on a cart outside the building where a scene was rehearsed, according to court records. Halls grabbed the gun from the cart and brought it to the actor, unaware it was loaded with live ammunition, one detective wrote in a search warrant request.
It is not known how many shots were fired. Gutierrez removed a casing from the gun after the shooting and she turned the gun over to police upon their arrival, court records show.
Guns used in filmmaking are sometimes real guns that can fire bullets or blanks, which are charges of gunpowder meant to produce little more than lightning and a bang.
New Mexico workplace safety investigators are examining whether film industry standards for gun safety were met during production of Rust. The Los Angeles Times, citing two crew members it did not name, reported that five days before the shooting, Baldwin’s stuntman accidentally fired two live ammunition after learning the weapon had no ammunition.
A crew member alarmed by the misfires told a unit production manager in a text message: “We have now had 3 accidental discharges. This is very dangerous,” according to a copy of the message reviewed by the newspaper. The New York Times also reported that there had been at least two accidental discharges of prior firearms; he cited three former crew members.
Mitchell, the screenwriter, told The Associated Press that she was standing next to Hutchins when the cinematographer was shot.
âI ran out and called 911 and said, ‘Bring everyone, send everyone,â Mitchell said. “This woman left early in her career. She was an extraordinary, rare, very rare woman.”
Filmmaker Souza, who was shot in the shoulder, said in a statement to NBC News he was grateful for the support he was receiving and drained by the loss of Hutchins. âShe was kind, dynamic, incredibly talented, fought for every inch and always pushed me to be better,â he said.
Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said prosecutors would review the evidence of the shooting and were unsure whether charges would be laid.
Baldwin, 63, known for his roles in “30 Rock” and “The Hunt for Red October” and his impression of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live”, called the murder a “tragic accident”. He was a producer of “Rust”.
“There are no words to express my shock and sadness over the tragic accident that claimed the life of Halyna Hutchins, a deeply admired wife, mother and colleague. I fully cooperate with the police investigation.” Baldwin wrote on Twitter. “My heart is broken for her husband, their son and all who knew and loved Halyna.”
Hutchins’ husband Matthew Hutchins posted on social media to mourn the loss of his wife, ask for his family’s confidentiality and thank his friends and mentors at the American Film Institute, who he says “nurtured the success that we were only just beginning to see flourish. “
The institute’s conservatory canceled cinematography classes on Friday in response to Hutchins’ death and plans to organize a memorial.
Production of “Rust” was halted after filming. The film is about a 13-year-old boy who is left to fend for himself and his younger brother after their parents died in the 1880s in Kansas, according to the Internet Movie Database.
Before the fateful rehearsal, issues were reported on set. Seven members of the film crew left several hours before Hutchins was killed to express their displeasure with issues ranging from security conditions to their accommodation, according to one of the crew members who left .
The conflicts began shortly after filming began in early October, said the crew member, who requested anonymity because he feared the speaking could hurt his prospects for future employment.
The crew were initially accommodated at the Courtyard by Marriott in Santa Fe, according to the crew member. Four days later, however, they were told that in the future they would be staying at the budget hotel Coyote South. Some crew members are reluctant to stay there.
The Los Angeles Times and Variety also reported on the walkout. Rust Movie Productions did not respond to emails on Friday and Saturday seeking comment.
There were other concerns.
Only minimal precautions against COVID-19 were taken even though the team and cast members often worked in small, enclosed spaces on the ranch, said the team member who spoke to the AP. He said he had never witnessed any formal orientation on the weapons used on set, which would normally take place before filming began.
A combination of these concerns prompted the Seven to quit work.
“We packed our gear and left that morning,” the crew member said of Thursday’s walkout.
Gutierrez, the film’s gunsmith, is the daughter of a longtime Hollywood gun expert. She gave an interview in September to the Voices of the West podcast in which she said she had learned to wield her father’s guns since she was a teenager.
During the podcast interview. Gutierrez shared that she had just completed her first film as Chief Armorer, a Montana project with Nicholas Cage titled “The Old Way.”
“I was really nervous about it at first and almost didn’t take the job because I wasn’t sure I was ready, but doing it went really well”, a- she declared.
In another gun death on set from 1993, Brandon Lee, the son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, was shot and killed by a bullet left in a propeller pistol after a previous scene. Similar shootings have occurred involving stage weapons loaded with live ammunition during historical re-enactments.
The gun safety protocol on set in the United States has improved since then, said Steven Hall, a veteran of photography in Britain. But he said one of the riskiest positions was behind the camera, as that person is in the crosshairs in scenes where an actor appears to be pointing a gun at the audience.