Cinematographer Halina Hutchins died while filming Rust on Thursday after actor and producer Alec Baldwin fired a rifle on set in New Mexico.
New Mexico authorities are investigating an incident that injured film director Joel Sousa. The International Guild of Filmmakers, of which Hutchins was a member, called for “a comprehensive investigation into this tragic event.”
Hutchins was also a member of the International Alliance of Theater Workers (IATSE), a guild representing many members of the film and television film crew. On Friday, a spokesman for IATSE Local 44, which represents the props masters, told HuffPost that none of its members were involved in the incident. A spokesperson for IATSE Local 480, which represents the New Mexico film crew, declined to comment.
The Los Angeles Times reported Hours before Thursday’s fatal incident, some of the crew – all members of the IATSE – walked off the set to protest unsafe working conditions. According to the report, Hutchins, who did not join them, tried to push for better terms.
One source told the LA Times that production managers then replaced staff with non-union workers.
“They cut corners – they brought in people who were not members of trade unions so that they could continue shooting,” the source said.
Tragedies like this are rare because of the extensive security procedures and training that have been developed and delivered by experts in films and on television for rifles and other weapons. But a source told the LA Times that The screw pistol has misfired several times in recent days, and there has been a “serious lack of safety meetings” on this set.
Dave Brown, a Firearms Safety Specialist based in Winnipeg, Canada, has developed safety training for film and television projects for over 25 years and has worked with actors such as Keanu Reeves and Robin Williams. On Friday, he said he did not want to speculate about the incident as details are still emerging. But he stressed the importance of safety and having an expert on set.
“From my point of view, I can only say that when used responsibly, firearms are as safe as any other props. But they always require the undivided attention of an experienced expert, ”he told HuffPost in an email. “My heart belongs to the families, friends and colleagues of everyone involved. Galina and I worked on the film here in Winnipeg and she was a wonderful person. This is a big loss and the effect will be felt for years to come. ”
In a 2019 article for American Cinematographer magazine, Brown wrote about how firearms specialists work with the film director, actors, cinematographer, and cameramen to ensure a safe environment when using real or fake weapons. Among other things, this includes recommendations for safe angles and distances.
The reference weapon uses “blank” cartridges that do not contain bullets, but contain gunpowder “to create a bright flash at the end of the barrel, thereby convincing the audience that the shot has been fired.” But blanks can be dangerous if shot too close, he wrote.
In 1984, John-Eric Hexum, the star of the CBS show Cover: Golden Opportunity, died after being shot in the head with a rifle with blanks. The actor, annoyed with filming delays, “held a gun to his head, reportedly joking,“ Can you believe this nonsense? “And pulled the trigger” according to Entertainment Weekly…
Because the blank was so close to his head, “the blow from the explosion broke his skull, dropping a quarter-size shard into his brain, causing severe bleeding.”
On Thursday, many people on social media recalled death of actor Brandon Lee in 1993, son of legendary actor Bruce Lee. During the filming of The Crow, Brandon Lee died after his co-star Michael Massey fired a pistol that was supposed to have blank cartridges, but with a bullet stuck in the barrel.
“We sincerely sympathize with Galina Hutchins’ family, Joel Sousa and everyone involved in the Rust incident,” says Sister Lee Shannon. tweeted early Friday… “No one should ever be killed with a pistol on set.”
Some productions digitally add shots and gunfire in post-production, but this may vary depending on the project budget and how the visuals look on screen. As Brown wrote in 2019, “CGI can be used for close-range shots that could not have been safely executed otherwise.” But there are advantages to using blanks, “even with all the advances in visual effects and computer imaging,” provided it is done safely.
“The reason is simple: we want the scene to look as real as possible. We want the story and characters to be believable, ”he wrote. “Blanks help to make the scene authentic, which cannot be achieved in any other way. If a cameraman wants to paint a story with light and framing, firearms experts will come to add drama and excitement to the story. ”