Some crew members of the film “Rust” say that there were two accidental weapon discharges on the set before the apparent accidental shooting death of a cinematographer by actor Alec Baldwin last week, multiple reports say.
Three former members of the film crew told the Los Angeles Times that those discharges happened on Oct. 16, triggering complaints about safety on the set to a supervisor.
The set is located on the Bonanza Creek Film Ranch outside Santa Fe, N. M. The crew members spoke on condition of anonymity over fears that their future employment in the film industry could be negatively impacted. They were reportedly among several members of the film crew who quit the production just a few hours before the fatal shooting of the film’s cinematographer.
Baldwin fired a prop gun during film production killing Halyna Hutchins, the director of photography, and wounding the film’s director, Joel Souza. Hutchins died en route to a local hospital via helicopter, reports said.
The revelations reported by the former film crew members concentrate on concerns about protocols that were loosely adhered to during the filming as well as labor issues between crew and producers of Rust, which is reportedly a low-budget project.
As to the gun involved in the shooting, TMZ reported that it was used by crew members off-set for fun. Multiple sources told the entertainment news outlet that the gun had been fired at gatherings not connected to the production of the film, which could explain how it may have had live rounds in it.
And another source told the outlet that when police arrived to investigate, they found live rounds in the same location as blank rounds, which could have resulted in a fatal mix-up.
Larry Zanoff, an armorer who worked on the set of “Django Unchained” instructing cast members how to safely handle guns and wasn’t involved in filming “Rust,” told the Times that any accidental discharge of a firearm on set would set off an inquiry right away into whether the gun was faulty or if it was being mishandled. If mishandling was identified as the culprit, he said that the production team would immediately move to reinforce safety protocols and even consider not allowing the handler to use firearms on the set.
It isn’t clear if an investigation into the causes of the accidental discharges took place after they reportedly occurred on Oct. 16. Those negligent firings took place inside a cabin that was being used as a set location; Hutchins was inside the cabin as well as one of the team members, according to a former crew member who spoke to the L.A. Times.
Baldwin is among the film’s producers who said in a statement on Friday they had not been told about those accidental discharges.
“Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down,” the film’s production company, Rust Movie Productions LLC, noted. “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 time.”
To date, no charges have been filed in connection with the on-set shootings.
Problems with guns on the film set are adding to questions about how Baldwin may have been handling his firearm before Hutchins and Souza were shot. An affidavit signed by Sante Fe Sheriff’s Department detective Joel Cano says that Baldwin was told by an assistant director who handed him the firearm he used that it was a “cold gun” — industry lingo for a weapon that is unloaded.
The gun used in the scene was set up by Hannah Gutierrez, the production’s armorer; it was actually given to Baldwin by Dave Halls, the assistant director.
Zanoff was among a half-dozen experts in the use of guns on film and television sets who said that typical protocol is for the armorer to hand the set-up gun to the actor, not an assistant director.
One of them, L.A.-based veteran professional armorer Mike Tristano, told the paper that the chain of custody and events on the set of “Rust” before the shooting as described in affidavits was a “red flag” to him, the Times reported.
Matthew Hutchins honored his wife in a photo shared on Instagram, which included the caption: “We miss you, Halyna!”
View this post on Instagram
Souza, who was wounded in the collarbone area and released from the hospital Friday morning, said in a statement to Fox News that he has been “gutted” by the death of Hutchins.
“I am gutted by the loss of my friend and colleague, Halyna,” he said. “She was kind, vibrant, incredibly talented, fought for every inch and always pushed me to be better. My thoughts are with her family at this most difficult time.”
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