By Griffin Brammer, Digital Communications Manager
Following Alec Baldwin’s accidental shooting of photography director Halyna Hutchins, public attention has shifted to working conditions on the set of Rust.
The shooting, which injured the film’s director and killed Hutchins, occured when Baldwin fired a prop gun improperly loaded with live rounds.
Assistant director David Halls gave Baldwin the gun. He later signed an affidavit acknowledging that he then believed and told others on set it was unloaded.
Hannah Gutierrez was one of the set’s armorers and was responsible for handling the gun given to Baldwin. Gutierrez claimed that she loaded the gun with rounds from a box labeled “dummy” and that the rounds should not have been able to fire.
Gutierrez also showed the gun and its rounds to Halls before handing it over to him.
Jason Bowles, Gutierrez’s lawyer, suggested that the rounds were purposefully switched.
“We’re not saying anybody had any intent there was going to be a tragedy of homicide, but they wanted to do something to cause a safety incident on set. That’s what we believe happened,” Bowles said.
Bowles’ claims follow several camera operators quitting due to long hours and unsafe conditions.
“In my 10 years as a camera assistant, I’ve never worked on a show that cares so little for the safety of its crew,” crew member Lane Luper said.
Baldwin and other producers of the film neglected to file appropriate insurance claims before filming began. The team of producers failed to procure a completion bond, a bond that ensures proper compensation to the crew should something happen that halts production, such as the death of one of the crew members.
One of the film’s producers, Allen Cheney, denied accountability on the part of the producing team.
“The six credited producers on the independent film Rust collectively have more than 35 years of experience producing small to mid-level film and television projects,” he said.
Cheney also insisted that the set’s working conditions were union-certified, despite receiving criticism from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. The producing team hired non-union replacements when the camera operators left in protest. The producers were also witnessed calling the police on some of the union crew, who returned to the set later that afternoon.
Danielle Pickle was the movie’s line producer. In October 2018, Pickle came under fire for violating the National Labor Relations Act for firing an Atlanta-based camera crew for signing union cards. Her employer, 3rd Shift Productions, has also been scrutinized by past employees over a perceived lack of concern for safety and compensation for work done.
In the aftermath of the incident, no charges have been filed, but Sante Fe police continue to investigate.
Additionally, Baldwin’s family has come under fire after his wife posted family Halloween photos on her Instagram. This led to fans calling the post “insensitive” and “ill-timed,” as Hutchins’ son celebrated his first Halloween without a mother.
Baldwin posted on social media, calling for better protective measures to be implemented on future film sets.
“Every film/TV set that uses guns, fake or otherwise, should have a police officer on set, hired by the production to specifically monitor weapons safety,” he wrote.