Thursday, December 2, 2021

Alec Baldwin on the Set of Rust: Assistant Director in the Spotlight

Outrage and mistrust over the death of Rust cinematographer Galina Hutchins, filmed by actor and producer Alec Baldwin during Thursday’s rehearsal of a scene, has left many in the Hollywood production community talking about one person at the center of the tragedy: the first assistant director. Dave Halls.

According to a search warrant filed by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department and obtained by the Associated Press, Halls took one of three shotguns from a mobile cart made by gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez Reed. Halls allegedly declared “melee weapons”, which means the weapon was not loaded as he passed it on to Baldwin.

On an emergency call made by script director Mamie Mitchell, she appears to be addressing Hall when she is heard to say, “Uh … AD who yelled at me at lunch asking for amendments.” In an entry obtained by the Albuquerque Journal, she adds: “He has to check the weapon. He is responsible for what happens on the set. “

Halls did not respond to The Times’ request for comment.

An industry veteran with work dating back to the early 90s, Halls has worked on films such as Bone Tomahawk, Balls of Fury, Homemade Prairie Companion, Bad Santa, The Matrix Reboot, A … Simple plan ”and“ Fargo ”. By grim coincidence, he was first assistant director on the second episode of 2000’s The Crow: Rescue, the sequel to The Crow, the film in which Brandon Lee was killed in a firearm accident on set. 1993 year

Halls was also the first assistant director and had a small on-screen role in the 2019 film Darlene, which was directed by Hutchins.

The duties of the first assistant director may include overseeing the safety of the installation and keeping the production process on schedule.

Director Aaron B. Koontz, who also knew Hutchins, worked with Halls twice, on the 2020 film Pale Door and on the 2017 film Camera Obscura.

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“Dave is extremely efficient and he keeps pace very well and just moves at the speed you have to move to make your days,” Koontz said on Saturday, stressing that he has no direct idea of ​​what happened on “ Rust “set.

“He was a good manager at the time. What all announcements should be “.

Rust’s crew members who spoke to The Times said they were taken aback by how Halls could have handed a loaded gun to Baldwin without thoroughly testing it. The role of the AD was the subject of controversy after the shooting, but some manufacturers said the protocol on many of the kits was for the first AD to test the weapon for safety.

“You don’t hand the actor a loaded gun,” said one member of the Rust film crew, who was not allowed to speak in public.

Crew members reported tensions on set. A half dozen cameramen and their assistants emerged from the Bonanza Creek Ranch set earlier in the day. Crew members who spoke to The Times described what producers see as an imperative to keep the 21-day filming schedule and budget. “Every day on this set, everything was simple,” said one of the crew members. “They were in such a hurry with business.”

During the rehearsal for the Hutchins murder scene, there were three actors with guns.

Following the death of assistant cinematographer Sarah Jones on the set of Midnight Rider in 2014, assistant director Hillary Schwartz was convicted of manslaughter and criminal trespass on property and sentenced to 10 years probation.

As part of Schwartz’s probation, she also received a $ 5,000 fine and was restricted from working as a director, assistant director, producer, or any head of the crew’s safety department.

Times staff writer Mag James contributed to this report.

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