After fatal incident on the film set: grief and shock in Hollywood

Status: 23.10.2021 11:26 a.m.

The fatal incident while filming the western “Rust” shocked the film industry. It is still unclear how the shot at a cameraman came about. Crew members meanwhile report inadequate safety precautions.

By Katharina Wilhelm, ARD Studio Los Angeles

Just a few hours before the fatal shots during filming at the ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, there was apparently an uproar within the team. This is reported by several US media as well as the NPR radio network.

Catherine Wilhelm
ARD-Studio Los Angeles

It was a low-budget production and many members of the team felt insecure and overworked, reports the film reporter Mandalit del Barco. A cameraman wrote on Facebook that the film’s producers treated local staff terribly. “Conditions were so bad that some of the members left the set the same day the shots were fired,” said del Barco.

Bad conditions – multiple layoffs

The industry magazine “Deadline” also writes that some members of the film crew have submitted their resignation. The security concerns should therefore also have been about the use of weapons on site.

On Thursday, the lead actor in the film “Rust”, Alec Baldwin, fired a gunshot from a prop gun, killing cameraman Halyna Hutchins. The film’s director, Joe Souza, was also hit and injured. He is said to have been released from the hospital, as a local actress tweeted.

Circumstances are still unclear

The sheriff in charge is investigating how the incident came about. However, accidents on the set with firearms are rather unusual, says Joseph Fisher to the news channel CNN. He is a propmaster, a prop master who takes care of such items on set: “We usually do a safety round with the team members. We show how the weapon works and present the safety measures that go with it.”

In the current case, it is said to have been a prop weapon that should have been filled with blank cartridges. But even with these blank cartridges, you have to be careful, as Fisher explains. They are not harmless, because these weapons also produce gas, heat, and air comes out of them. Even if no projectile is attached, something could fly out, says Fischer. “And that can cause injuries at a distance of 7 to 15 meters, depending on the load.”

Apparently live ammunition

As reported by the New York Times newspaper, the actor Alec Baldwin is said to have been told that the gun would be safe before he shot it down. Apparently it had contained live ammunition. The police have a search warrant and are investigating exactly what ammunition it was.

Baldwin reported on Twitter after the incident:

There are no words to express my shock and sadness over this tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins – a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours.

Baldwin, who is also the co-producer of the western film, said he was cooperating with the police. The production company Rust Movie Productions announced in a statement that it would also initiate an internal investigation.

Demand for consequences

There is sadness and shock in Hollywood. Numerous directors and actors and actresses expressed their condolences to the family of the deceased camerawoman. At the same time, there are also demands for consequences: “There is no reason why real weapons are needed on the set,” says director Bandar Albuliwi, for example, who has now started a petition to ban weapons on film sets. “You can solve that with a computer trick, something has to change in Hollywood.”

Accidents happen again and again on film sets, mostly with stunt people. In 1993, while filming “The Crow”, leading actor Brandon Lee was shot dead after a part of a cartridge case hit him. The shooting of the film “Rust” was stopped for the time being. It is unclear how the project will proceed.

Shock in Hollywood – Reactions to fatal shots on the set of “Rust”

Katharina Wilhelm, ARD Los Angeles, October 23, 2021 9:53 am

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