Rust’s production company must pay for having real weapons on set.
New Mexico recently levied a fine against Rust Movie Productions LLC, citing “willful safety lapses” that led to the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins last year during the filming of the Western movie “Rust.” On October 21, 2021, Halyna Hutchins, 42, passed away on the set after a real gun (a .45 Long Colt) was fired by actor and producer Alec Baldwin rehearsing his role. He discharged a live round that hit her and movie director Joel Souza. Souza was wounded but survived.
Hutchins, a talented Ukrainian cinematographer, actress, and journalist had 30 film credits at the time of her death, including short films and TV miniseries. She left behind her spouse and son who will be the recipients of any wrongful death payout The insurance policy, put into placed by Front Row Insurance Brokers, covers the production up to only $6 million. General liability coverage is limited to $1 million per occurrence and a commercial umbrella policy (an added supplement) covers an additional $5 million.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a six-month investigation into the matter which found that Rust management, including Line Producer Gabrielle Pickle and Unit Production Manager Row Walters, ignored concerns voiced by the production crew that real firearms were being used on set. The safety agency contended that Assistant Director and Safety Coordinator Dave Halls “witnessed accidental discharges but took no corrective action.” Its report also indicated that “Rust management failed to give staff responsible for firearms safety sufficient time to inspect ammunition.”
Moreover, the agency found that “Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was responsible for firearm safety, was told to focus less on her tasks as set armorer and spend more time helping the props department. When she said actors needed firearm safety training, Gutierrez-Reed was told she would be informed if that was necessary.”
“This tragic incident never would have happened if Rust Movie Productions, LLC had followed national film industry standards for firearm safety,” Environment Cabinet Secretary James Kenney said.
Baldwin has denied responsibility and said that the gun itself was not adequately inspected before it was handed over him. In fact, sources say it may have been left unattended for up to two hours beforehand. It was on a prop cart, loaded with six dummy rounds by the armorer and Gutierrez-Reed took prop ammunition from a box labeled “dummies,” according to her attorney, Jason Bowles. The dummies and real ammunition look identical.
Baldwin, according to insiders, is also suffering significant mental trauma in the aftermath of the shooting and psychologist Maryann Gray empathizes with him after accidentally hitting an 8-year-old boy with her vehicle. The boy ran in front of her car on a rural highway.
“I do have a lot of compassion for him,” Gray said. “If he’s like most people who unintentionally kill someone, he’s suffering with a variety of challenges, one of them is certainly trauma.”
Rust Movie Productions spokesman Stefan Friedman responded to OSHA’s findings, “While we appreciate OSHA’s time and effort in its investigation, we disagree with its findings and plan to appeal.”