“Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed while Alec Baldwin was rehearsing a scene the involved the actor pointing a revolver in the direction of a camera lens, according to an affidavit from the film’s director Joel Souza.
Souza, who was also injured in the on-set accident, said that the cast and crew had been assured that Baldwin was handling a “cold gun,” meaning it had no live rounds. Safety protocols on the set required that the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, checked to make sure that the barrel was empty, with her work double checked by “Rust” assistant director Dave Halls before the firearm was handed to the actors. Souza and Hutchins were standing behind the camera to see the angle. After noticing a shadow, they repositioned their gear and were talking with Baldwin, who was showing them how he planned to pull the gun from his holster when it discharged.
Reid Russell, a cameraman who was standing next to the two, told police that he “remembered Joel having blood on his person, and Ms. Hutchins speaking and saying she couldn’t feel her legs.” Souza told investigators that Hutchins grabbed her midsection, at which point he noticed he was bleeding from his shoulder. Hutchins was pronounced dead Thursday after being airlifted to an Albuquerque hospital. She was 42.
The “Rust” production had been grappling with labor issues in the lead-up to the accident. Several IATSE crew members on the New Mexico set of “Rust” reportedly quit the production because they felt producers were not following safety guidelines, according to numerous reports. “Rust” began shooting Oct. 6 at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, and crew members had been observing safety problems for several days.
Hutchins’ death has prompted calls for greater safety measures on sets and inspired a petition on change.org to ban the use of real firearms on sets. That petition has drawn more than 24,000 signatories.