No one was expecting there to be any real excitement on the set of Alec Baldwin’s new movie, a western called Rust. Mr. Baldwin was practicing for a scene involving a gun and everyone was assured that the gun was “cold”, which means that there was no live ammunition loaded into the gun. Yet somehow, the gun fired and Halyna Hutchins, the movie’s cinematographer, was shot and died at the scene. The film’s director, Joel Souza, was also wounded.
The day of the accident was not a typical day on set. Filming started later than it was scheduled to for many reasons, one being that resignation letters sent in by many crew members the night before. The resignation letters were the result of days and weeks of tension on set, starting with late paychecks, other labor tensions, and two accidental gun discharges just days before the accident.
On top of all of the labor tensions, the set of the film was also reported to be unsafe. One member of the Rust crew spoke out about the conditions on the set, “It was the most unorganized set I’ve ever seen,” the crew member said.
Amid concerns about the condition of the set, there was also concern that the set’s head armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, was not experienced enough for the job, as this is only her second job as head armorer. However, Ms. Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyers claim that the entire set was unsafe due to a lack of safety meetings.
However, the question that remains is “how did a loaded gun make it through extensive final security checks?”After being handed the guns for the scene from a safe, the protocol is that Ms. Gutierrez-Reed check them again with Dave Halls, the first assistant director. Mr. Halls recalls seeing three rounds inside the gun, but did not have her spin it to see all the chambers, as is another standard procedure.
There have been complaints about both Mr. Halls and Mr. Gutierrez-Reed on previous projects they have been involved with, though Ms. Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyers deny that she has ever had an accidental discharge on a set before. This claim contradicts several rumors.
The investigation of this incident is now largely focused on how the bullet got into the gun.