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Fallout after actor Alec Baldwin fires prop gun that kills cinematographer, wounds director

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Actor Alec Baldwin reportedly fired a prop gun on a movie set in New Mexico on Thursday, accidentally killing a cinematographer and injuring the director.

The prop gun was fired by Baldwin at Bonanza Creek Ranch, where the filming of “Rust” was underway, according to the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office. The set was locked down as police investigate the tragic accident.

Baldwin plays Harland Rust in the movie, an infamous Western outlaw who has long had a bounty on his head. When his estranged 13-year-old grandson is ironically convicted of accidental murder and sentenced to hang, Baldwin’s character travels to Kansas to break him out of jail.

“The sheriff’s office confirms that two individuals were shot on the set of Rust. Halyna Hutchins, 42, director of photography and Joel Souza, 48, director, were shot when a prop firearm was discharged by Alec Baldwin, 68, producer and actor.” the statement said. “Ms. Hutchins was transported, via helicopter, to University of New Mexico Hospital where she was pronounced dead by medical personnel. Mr. Souza was transported by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical center where he is undergoing treatment for his injuries.” 

“This investigation remains open and active. No charges have been filed in regard to this incident. Witnesses continue to be interviewed by detectives,” the releaser added.

Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Juan Ríos said Baldwin, the film’s stars and producer, went to the sheriff’s office willingly and provided a statement to investigators.

“We’re treating this as we would any other investigation,” Ríos said.

“Mr. Baldwin was questioned by investigators and released,” a Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department official told reporters, according to Deadline. “No arrests or charges have been filed.”

A photo of a distraught Baldwin taken in a parking lot outside the sheriff’s office showed the oft-belligerent actor in tears while on the phone. Another photo captured Baldwin doubled over, as if he was physically ill.

*Update: As Baldwin undoubtedly is reeling from the tragic incident, he is currently haunted by a tweet he reportedly posted in 2017 over a police shooting.

“I wonder how it must feel to wrongfully kill someone…” Baldwin eerily said at the time.

Cinematographers Guild’s National President, John Lindley, and National Executive Director, Rebecca Rhine, released a joint statement on the tragic accident.

“We received the devastating news this evening, that one of our members, Halyna Hutchins, the Director of Photography on a production called Rust in New Mexico died from injuries sustained on the set,” the statement read.

“The details are unclear at this moment, but we are working to learn more, and we support a full investigation into this tragic event,” the guild executives added. “This is a terrible loss, and we mourn the passing of a member of our Guild’s family.”

Fran Drescher, president of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the union’s National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland also issued a statement:

“We are devastated by this tragic news. Our hearts go out to the family of Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins who has passed away and to Director Joel Souza who is injured and hospitalized. This is still an active investigation and we do not yet have all the facts. We will continue to work with production, the other unions, and the authorities to investigate this incident and to understand how to prevent such a thing from happening again.”

 

Souza was reportedly hospitalized, but details on his condition were not released.

Credited as a writer on “Rust” along with Baldwin, Souza is a San Francisco Bay Area-based filmmaker who previously directed the American action film “Crown Vic,” a 2019 feature film on the life of a Los Angeles Police Department officer hunting two cop killers on the loose, according to IMDB.

Hutchins was a Los Angeles-based cinematographer originally from Ukraine who grew up on a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle “surrounded by reindeer and nuclear submarines,” according to her website. She earned a degree in international journalism from Kyiv National University in Ukraine and had worked as an investigative journalist with British documentary productions in Europe.

A 2015 graduate of the American Film Institute Conservatory, she “was selected as one of American Cinematographer’s Rising Stars of 2019 as well as a cinematographer for the 21st Century Fox DP Lab in 2018,” her bio reads.

Hutchins’ recent work included being director of photography on the superhero action film “Archenemy,” starring Joe Manganiello, which premiered in 2020 and received a nomination for Best Motion Picture at the Sitges International Film Festival.

Other work included “Blindfire,” a racially charged cop drama written and directed by Mike Nell starring Brian Geraghty and Sharon Leal,  and “Darlin’,” a horror feature.

A member of the International Cinematographers Guild, Local 600, Hutchins posted a number of photos from the “Rust” set earlier this week, to include one of the entire cast, including Baldwin.

The caption of that photo read: “Our IATSE solidarity stand on RUST.”

The cinematographer including the following video, writing: “One of the perks of shooting a western is you get to ride horses on your day off:)”

 

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A post shared by Halyna Hutchins (@halynahutchins)

Tom Tillison

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