The Directors Guild of America has raised concerns about safety issues on a new film from the production company behind “Rust,” the project that was halted after a fatal shooting last fall.
The guild determined that “Oak” — now shooting in Thomasville, Ga. — failed to meet its safety standards. The DGA issued a statement that did not specify the reasons behind its decision. But a source close to the project said that the stunt coordinator had left the film early in the production for another job. His brother, who is also a stunt coordinator, took over that role.
It does not appear that there were any safety incidents on the set.
The Hollywood Reporter was first to report the news.
The DGA’s decision forced the film’s director, guild member Shane Drake, to leave the project. In an interview with Variety, Drake said he was disappointed and did not believe there were any safety issues on set. He said the guild’s determination left him with no alternative.
“It was either that or risk my future standing with them forever. That wasn’t a risk worth taking,” Drake said. “I’m devastated, but I have faith that other projects will come along.”
Thomasville Pictures, led by Ryan Smith, is facing multiple lawsuits over its role on “Rust.” During filming in New Mexico last October, actor Alec Baldwin shot and killed the cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, with a gun that he believed was loaded with dummy rounds. Hutchins’ widower has accused the company in a lawsuit of “aggressive cost-cutting practices,” including hiring inexperienced crew members to handle guns on set. The company has denied wrongdoing.
The company is now shooting two low-budget projects in Thomasville, Ga., its home base: “Oak,” a horror film starring Joey Lauren Adams and Armand Assante, and “Sam & Kate,” starring Dustin Hoffman and Sissy Spacek.
In a statement, the DGA said that the producers of “Oak” had been notified of the safety issue and did not correct it.
“Oak is not a DGA-covered project,” the guild said. “Representatives of the DGA informed the producers of specific safety requirements that needed to be satisfied for the film to be covered under a DGA agreement. The producers failed to meet those conditions.”
“Sam & Kate” continues to have DGA approval, and Thomasville Pictures remains a signatory to the IATSE and SAG-AFTRA agreements for low-budget films.
“Our team is proud to be working with SAG-AFTRA and IATSE on our two current projects in Thomasville and with DGA on ‘Sam and Kate,’” a company spokesman said in a statement. “On ‘Oak,’ we continue to work hand in hand with IATSE and SAG-AFTRA Safety Committees to ensure a safe working environment for all cast and crew. We look forward to building on these local and national collaborations with all of our guild partners as we continue to produce films in Georgia and elsewhere around the country.”
“Oak” is now filming with a new director, Kevin Lewis, who is not a DGA member, and who is also credited as an executive producer on the film.