/ 25 October 2021

A shot gone wrong

Image source: AP

Concerns about gun safety were raised on the set of Rust in the days before cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot and director Joel Souza was injured on Thursday afternoon local time when Hollywood star Alec Baldwin fired a gun during a rehearsal. Several crew members walked off the set outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico a few hours before – they were protesting poor working conditions and safety concerns. And last week, reports say Baldwin’s stunt double accidentally fired 2 rounds with a prop gun after being told it was “cold” – an industry term meaning a weapon is not loaded. Authorities are investigating, and Baldwin tweeted that there are “no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident“.

Hutchins and Souza were trying to work out a difficult shot with Baldwin. As the cinematographer, Hutchins was the person responsible for the framing of every single shot in the film – a job that she was said to be good at. The gun Baldwin used was one of 3 that a firearms specialist – the armourer – had set on a cart outside. Police say assistant director Dave Halls took the gun, handed it to Baldwin, and incorrectly indicated that the weapon wasn’t loaded by yelling “cold gun.” When Baldwin pulled the trigger, he unwittingly hit the pair with a live round. An ambulance was called and Hutchins was pronounced dead at hospital.

Well, there’s a lot that’s unknown at the moment, like what sort of gun and ammunition was involved, who loaded the weapon that was handed to Baldwin, and why protocols for preventing accidents like this weren’t followed. Rust is a western film set in the 1880s, and some have speculated that the gun in question could be a real weapon from the era to up the authenticity. When it comes to blanks, they are essentially modified real bullets and there are past examples of problems with them. As for the people involved, there are questions about the experience of the movie’s armourer, 24yo Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. And reports this morning claim assistant director Halls has form on being cavalier about safety on this and other movie sets. Authorities continue to investigate.  

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