On Oct. 23, Alec Baldwin misfired a prop gun, accidentally killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza. Hutchins (42) was hit in the chest and Souza (28) was wounded on the shoulder.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the prop gun was handed to Baldwin by assistant director David Halls who announced that it was a “cold gun.” On set, a “cold gun” refers to a weapon that is unloaded. While Baldwin was practicing a scene for the movie Rust on a set outside of Santa Fe, the gun was accidentally discharged. The gun was handled by Hannah Gutierrez Reed who set up the prop gun away from the set because of COVID-19 protocols.
Gutierrez said in a podcast interview that she was initially nervous about this job because of her lack of experience. Director Joel Souza stated that the crew was preparing for a scene and took a quick lunch break and thus he was not sure if the gun was checked again. Therefore, Halls claims he did not know that the gun he handed to Baldwin was loaded. This was not the first gun incident on a set for David Halls. In 2019, David Halls was also fired from the film production of Freedom’s Path after the accidental discharge of a gun as stated by CNN.
BBC explains that this is not the first incident on film sets where props have led to disasters. Prop guns fire blank cartridges, which are similar to real live rounds, but do not have a bullet at the top. They are intended to imitate the loud bang noise that comes from a gun when shooting a film. However, it has been proven that even though prop guns do not have an actual bullet in them, they can still be very dangerous.
Unfortunately, there were two accidental gun discharges on the Rust set just days before this fatal tragedy. The New York Times claims that these accidental discharges occurred on Oct. 16 and prompted “a complaint to a supervisor about the safety practices on set” by crew members. The movie also faced complaints about the lack of regulation and reinforcement of important protocols on set. It has been reported that there was a lot of tension and strife between the producers and crew members leading up to the misfire.
Despite the statement by Rust Movie Productions stating that the cast and crew safety is their top priority, crew members still had concerns regarding safety prior to the event. The production on Rust has been paused until the investigation is complete. The Rust Production Team has offered support resources to cast and crew to assist in processing the grief of losing their colleague. They also made a statement that they will be “conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down.”
While no charges have been filed in regards to this incident, Baldwin said that he is cooperating in the police investigation as stated by CNN. This was Baldwin’s first public statement following the shooting. He expressed his “shock and sadness” and stated that he is “in touch with her husband” and offering support. A GoFundMe was created by Hutchins’ family and has raised over $100,000. Many in the film industry have also paid tribute to Hutchins for her influential work.