Alec Baldwin ‘Rust’ camera crew walked off before shooting

Hours before actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cameraman on the New Mexico set of Rust with a prop gun, half a dozen cameramen left the set to protest the working conditions.

The cameramen and their assistants were frustrated with the conditions surrounding low-budget film, including complaints about long hours, long journeys, and waiting for their paychecks, according to three people familiar with the matter who were ineligible to comment.

Industry security protocols, including gun inspections, were not strictly followed on the “Rust” set near Santa Fe, the sources said. At least one of the cameramen complained to a production manager about gun safety on set last weekend.

Bonanza Creek Ranch killed one crew member and injured another one day after an incident

Production stopped Friday at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, NM, where a woman was accidentally killed and a man injured while filming “Rust”.

(Roberto E. Rosales / Albuquerque Journal)

Three crew members who were in attendance at Bonanza Creek Ranch on Saturday said they were particularly concerned about two accidental discharges of propeller guns.

Baldwin’s stunt double accidentally fired two rounds on Saturday after being told the gun was “cold” – slang for a gun that has no ammunition in it, including spaces – two crew members who witnessed the episode said the Los Angeles Times.

“There should have been an investigation into the incident,” said one crew member. “There were no safety briefings. There was no certainty that it would not happen again. They just wanted to hurry, hurry, hurry. “

One colleague was so alarmed by the propeller misfiring that he sent a text message to the unit’s production manager. “We have now had 3 accidental discharges. It’s super insecure, ”read a copy of the message verified by The Times.

“The safety of our cast and crew is a top priority for Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company,” Rust Movie Productions said in a statement. “While we have not been made aware of any official complaints about the safety of any guns or props on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production ceases. We will continue to work with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and provide psychological services to the cast and crew during this tragic time. “

The tragedy occurred Thursday afternoon while filming a gunfight that began in a church that is part of the old western town on the ranch. According to the Times production notes, Baldwin’s character was about to leave the church. It was the 12th day of a 21-day shoot.

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of "Archenemy" in January 2020 in Los Angeles.

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was on the set of “Archenemy” last year, huddled around a monitor that set up her next camera shot on Thursday when she was fatally shot with a prop gun by “Rust” star Alec Baldwin in New Mexico.

(Adam Egypt Mortimer / Associated Press)

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was crouched around a monitor aligning her next camera shot when she was accidentally killed by the prop pistol fired by Baldwin.

The actor was preparing to film a scene in which he was pulling a gun out of a holster, according to a source close to the production. Crew members had already shouted “cold gun” on the set. The filmmaking team adjusted their camera angles and had to retreat to the video village, an area on the set where the crew gathers to watch the filming from a distance on a monitor.

Instead, the B-cameraman sat on a dolly with a monitor and checked the possible recordings. Hutchins also looked over the camerawoman’s shoulder at the monitor, as did the film’s director, Joel Souza, crouched directly behind her.

Baldwin took the gun out of its holster once without incident, but the second time, ammunition flew toward the trio around the monitor. The projectile rushed off the cameraman, but penetrated Hutchins near her shoulder, then moved on to Souza. Hutchins immediately fell to the ground when crew members put pressure on her wound to stop the bleeding.

Late Friday, the Associated Press reported that a loaded gun was handed over to Baldwin by an assistant director who said it was safe, according to court records, in the moments before the actor was fired. Little did the assistant director know the prop gun was loaded with live cartridges, according to a search warrant filed in a Santa Fe County court.

Hannah Gutierrez Reed, known as an armorer and responsible for overseeing weapons props, could not be reached for comment. The 24-year-old is the daughter of the experienced armourer Thell Reed and recently completed her first film with Clint Howard and Nicolas Cage as head armor for the film “The Old Way”.

Director Joel Souza in 2019 in New York City.

“Rust” director Joel Souza was wounded in the accidental filming.

(Jim Spellman / Getty Images)

Earlier in the day, the camera crew arrived at 6:30 a.m. as expected and began collecting their equipment and personal items in order to leave them, a knowledgeable crew member told The Times.

Work difficulties had been brewing for days on the dusty set at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe.

Filming began on October 6, and members of the low-budget film said they had been promised the production would pay for their hotel rooms in Santa Fe.

But after filming began, the crews were told they would instead have to drive the 80-mile drive from Albuquerque every day instead of staying in nearby Santa Fe. That disgruntled crew members worried they might have an accident after spending 12-13 hours on set.

Hutchins had campaigned for safer conditions for her team and was in tears when the camera crew left, said a crew member who was on the set.

“She said, ‘I feel like I’m losing my best friends,’” recalls one of the workers.

When the camera team – members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees – spent about an hour assembling their gear at Bonanza Creek Ranch, several non-union crew members showed up to replace them, two of the knowledgeable people said.

One of the producers ordered union members to leave the set and threatened to call security to remove them if they did not voluntarily leave.

“Corners were cut – and they brought in non-union people to keep shooting,” said the knowledgeable person.

The shooting occurred about six hours after the union camera team left.

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office announced that MPs were dispatched to the Bonanza Creek Ranch film set at 1:50 p.m. Thursday after calling 911 at 1:50 p.m. Baldwin starred in the film and served as one of the producers.

No charges were brought, but the sheriff’s office said “witnesses will continue to be questioned by detectives.”

Baldwin said Friday he was “fully cooperating with the police investigation” into the incident.

“There are no words to express my shock and sadness over the tragic accident in which Halyna Hutchins, a woman, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours, lost her life.” Baldwin wrote a series of tweets on Friday.

The production of the film has been discontinued.

In an email to its members, Local 44 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, a union representing property masters, said the shot that killed Hutchins and injured Souza on Thursday was “one live round.”

“As many of us have heard, there was an accidental gun discharge on a production called Rust that was filmed in New Mexico,” said the North Hollywood-based local. “On set, a single live round was accidentally fired by the lead actor, which hit both Director of Photography, Local 600 member Halyna Hutchins and director Joel Souza. Both were hospitalized, ”the email said. The New Mexico-based crew was represented by another local.

A union source said Local 44 did not know which projectile was in the gun, clarifying that “live” is an industry term that refers to a gun loaded with material such as a blank ready to be filmed is.

Bonanza Creek Ranch has been a popular film location for more than 60 years. The first film that was shot there was “The Man From Laramie” with Jimmy Stewart. It was also the set for “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” and the popular TV show “Longmire”.

One of Rust’s backers is Santa Monica-based lender BondIt Media Capital, founded in 2013 by Matthew Helderman and Luke Taylor. According to its website, BondIt is funding films through instruments such as gap loans, bridging loans, and tax credit financing.

The company has funded primarily low budget films, including the action film “Hard Kill” by Bruce Willis, the horror film “The Reckoning” by Charlotte Kirk and the upcoming Robert De Niro film “Wash Me in the River” directed by Randall Emmett.

BondIt was particularly active during the COVID-19 pandemic, stepping in to fill funding gaps as independent producers struggled to find support for films during the public health crisis.

Times contributors Wendy Lee, Anousha Sakoui, Ryan Faughnder, Richard Winton, Josh Rottenberg, and Scott Wilson contributed to this report.

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