Details continue to emerge regarding the tragic incident, which took place on the set of the movie “Rust” last Thursday. Alec Baldwin accidentally discharged a prop firearm, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.
Prior to the shooting, six union camera crew workers walked off the set due to frustrations about working conditions, the Los Angeles Times reported.
These crew members were reportedly upset about issues ranging from safety to payment.
These workers ended up being replaced by nonunion staffers after they left in order to prevent any production delays.
A source informed the Times that necessary safety checks were not strictly enforced on set and noted that a camera operator specifically complained about gun safety on set the weekend prior.
“We’ve now had three accidental discharges. This is super unsafe,” a text message from a crew member to the production manager, which was verified by the outlet, eerily stated.
Baldwin was practicing drawing the gun when it discharged, CNN reported.
People clearly noticed there were dangerous red flags that led up to the horrific situation, but it seems like nobody cared until it was too late.
In the entertainment industry, there is often an intense culture of hierarchy where concerns raised by those lower of the totem pole are less likely to be taken seriously.
Should there be more safety regulations on movie sets?
Based on the fact workers made the decision to leave, this set could have been a hostile work environment that only cared about the needs of the higher level actors and production team.
A search warrant affidavit from the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office stated that Baldwin was handed the gun by an assistant director Dave Halls, who told him the gun was “cold,” meaning that it did not contain any live rounds, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Except this was false, and the gun did have live bullets inside.
In addition, Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was also named in the search warrant. She had mentioned in a podcast interview last month that she did not feel qualified at first to be overseeing firearms on the set of the Nicolas Cage film “The Old Way”.
“I almost didn’t take the job because I wasn’t sure if I was ready, but doing it, it went really smoothly,” she said, according to the Daily Mail.
“Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down,” said a spokesman for the movie’s production company, the Journal reported.
Incidents like these are incredibly rare, but a work environment that prioritizes speed over safety creates communal incompetence and negligence.
CNN reports that actor Alec Baldwin was practicing drawing his gun at the time of a fatal incident on a New Mexico film set. pic.twitter.com/jDiqsOps8Q
— KFI AM 640 (@KFIAM640) October 25, 2021
Investigators will hopefully continue to get more details to determine exactly what went wrong in the moment that ended Hutchin’s life.
Television and movie sets around the world need to use this “Rust” tragedy as a lesson to always understand and follow proper gun safety, even when just using a prop.