Alec Baldwin has seen the murdered cameraman’s family comforted as the set issues mount
By Lisa Richwine
SANTA FE, NM (Reuters) – Alec Baldwin was seen comforting the family of the cameraman he accidentally killed on the set of his film when additional reports surfaced Sunday of unsettling practices during the filming of the western “Rust”.
A desperate Baldwin was photographed outside a Santa Fe, New Mexico hotel Saturday while hugging and talking to Matt Hutchins, Halyna Hutchins’ husband and their nine-year-old son.
Baldwin, 63, said Friday he was shocked and heartbroken over the death of Hutchins. The 42-year-old was killed and director Joel Souza wounded when Baldwin fired a prop gun from a live cartridge that had been handed over to him and unloaded, Santa Fe authorities said in court documents.
In a statement read out on Saturday at a candlelight vigil https://www.reuters.com/business/media-telecom/director-gutted-by-death-cinematographer-accidental-shooting-2021-10-23, Hutchins called his wife to death “an enormous loss”.
No one was charged with the fatal incident during a trial Thursday at Bonanza Creek Ranch outside of Santa Fe, while the local sheriff’s office continues its investigation.
But several media and social media reports have raised concerns about the safety protocols on the set of the low-budget film, describing an exit of several cameramen and their assistants just hours before the accident.
One of the most troubling celebrity websites, TMZ.com, said, citing unidentified sources associated with the production, that the weapon handed over to Baldwin was previously used by crew members to shoot real bullets.
Reuters was unable to verify the report and the Santa Fe police did not respond to inquiries on Sunday.
Concerns reported among crew members included other incidents involving propeller guns. According to the Los Angeles Times, Baldwin’s stunt double accidentally fired two shots from a prop gun more than a week ago after being told it was “cold.”
Rust Movie Productions said last week that while they were not 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 is down.
According to court documents, the prop gun was given to Baldwin by the film’s assistant director Dave Halls, who has over 20 years of industry experience.
Film producer Aaron B. Koontz, who worked with Halls on two previous films but was not involved in the production of “Rust,” said the Los Angeles Times Halls was a good manager.
“Dave is extremely efficient and he is very good at keeping the pace and just moving at the pace you need to move to pass your days,” Koontz told the newspaper.
However, special effects technician Maggie Goll, who worked with Halls on the Hulu TV series “Into the Dark” in 2017, disagreed.
“He did not maintain a safe work environment,” Goll told NBC News. “Sets were almost always allowed to become more and more claustrophobic, no fire routes set up, exits blocked … There were no safety briefings.”
Halls didn’t respond to requests for comment on Sunday. Also involved in the investigation is the film’s chief armourer, Hannah Gutierrez. She could not be reached for comment.
About 200 people attended the vigil for Hutchins in Albuquerque on Saturday. While organizers insisted that the event should honor Hutchins’ memory rather than focus on her death, some in the crowd held up signs saying “Safety on Set”.
A second vigil is planned in the Los Angeles area on Sunday.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; writing by Jill Serjeant; editing by Daniel Wallis)