Numerous crew members walked off the set of the Alec Baldwin film “Rust” in protest hours before the actor fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on Thursday, while others had shared concerns about safety, according to reports.
The Los Angeles Times reported it had spoken with three crew members who were on the set of the film at Bonanza Creek Ranch in north central New Mexico leading up to the fatal shot that would ultimately leave Hutchins, 42, dead.
Those members complained that the low-budget film in which Baldwin was both starring in and producing, were not following standard safety protocols. The Times reported it had reviewed a text message sent by one of the crew members to the film’s unit production manager just before a live round was fired by Baldwin during filming.
“We’ve now had 3 accidental discharges. This is super unsafe,” that message reportedly read.
Per the sources, there had been a number of incidents with a prop gun on set, and nothing was done about it. In one incident, Baldwin’s stunt double had reportedly fired two rounds from a gun after being told it was inoperable, or “cold.”
“There should have been an investigation into what happened,” one of those people told the Times, citing issues with gun safety. “There were no safety meetings. There was no assurance that it wouldn’t happen again.”
“All they wanted to do was rush, rush, rush,” the source added.
Not only were issues about three total prop gun safety incidents shared by multiple people working on the film, but six camera crew workers had walked off the job to protest their working conditions on the day of the tragedy. Complaints included long waits for paychecks, long hours on set and long commutes to the remote ranch in Santa Fe County.
Rust Movie Productions said in a statement that it was unaware of concerns over safety regarding the film’s production.
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“The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company, ” a statement read. “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.”
“We will continue to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and offer mental health services to the cast and crew during this tragic time,” Rust Film Productions added.
Hutchins was killed by a bullet fired by Baldwin on day 12 of what was slated to be a 21-day shoot for the Western. Behind her stood film director Joel Souza, 48, who was struck by the same bullet and is still recovering.
A crew member who spoke to the Associated Press described what happened immediately following Hutchins’ shooting.
“I ran out and called 911 and said ‘Bring everybody, send everybody,’” “Rust” script supervisor Mamie Mitchell told the AP. “This woman is gone at the beginning of her career. She was an extraordinary, rare, very rare woman.”
It is not clear what caliber of weapon was being used, but the AP reported Saturday that Baldwin’s weapon was loaded with live rounds rather than blanks. The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office has obtained a warrant to search the film set and to examine the scene, film footage and a costume Baldwin was wearing when he fired the fatal shot.
Baldwin reportedly picked up one of three guns that were made available for filming Thursday by armorer Hannah Gutierrez.
“There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours,” Baldwin wrote on Twitter. “I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family. My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”