We are all still in shock and reeling with grief and anger over the tragic death of 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was accidentally killed last week on the set of the Western movie “Rust” by a prop gun that was discharged by Alec Baldwin. It remains a mystery as to how in the hell this could have happened.
The fact is it should never have happened.
It is impossible to comprehend the level of carelessness and dereliction of duty, the total disregard of absolute fail-safe gun safety protocols, that led to such a catastrophic outcome that took the life of Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza.
It has been widely reported that gun safety guidelines were not being followed on the set of “Rust” in Santa Fe, N.M., and as a result several IATSE crew members walked off the production. According to the Los Angeles Times, prior to the Oct. 21 shooting a production manager received a complaint from a camera operator about gun safety on the set, and crew members were alarmed about two accidental prop gun discharges that had occurred.
How many more red flags needed to be raised???
While charges have yet to be filed, Santa Fe authorities are investigating the circumstances surrounding the tragedy, and legal experts are discussing the likely litigation that will be filed against the producers, including Baldwin, as well as those responsible for ensuring the prop gun was safe to use. Seven production companies are credited on this movie, including Baldwin’s El Dorado Pictures.
There’s also been a fair amount written that questions the lack of experience among some crew involved in the production.
One of the questions that continues to haunt is what became of the changes that were supposedly put into place for how firearms are treated on sets after actor Brandon Lee, the 28-year-old son of martial arts star Bruce Lee, was accidentally killed in a similar fashion while filming “The Crow” in 1993? At the time, OSHA investigators blamed the shooting on three separate violations of industry safety guidelines.
Last week, on the late actor’s Twitter page, his family reached out to say, “Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on ‘Rust.’ No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period.”
The tragedy has prompted many in the industry to push for a strict no-guns-on-set policy. Award-winning filmmaker Bandar Albuliwi (“Peace After Marriage”) started a Change.org petition last week addressed to Baldwin calling for a ban on using real firearms on set and demands for better working conditions for crew. On Tuesday, there were more than 52,000 signatures.
“We need to make sure this avoidable tragedy never happens again,” Albuliwi states in the petition. “There is no excuse for something like this to happen in the 21st century. Real guns are no longer needed on film production sets” — an argument that’s being made in light of the visual effects technology now available. The petition also calls on signatories to “demand for Baldwin to use his power and influence in the Hollywood film industry to make change and ban real guns on film sets.”
I’d say that’s a no-brainer.