There’s more troubling information today about the shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin’s movie “Rust,” during which the cinematographer was killed and the director was injured.
We previously wrote about how there had been three misfires of a prop gun, according to a report from the LA Times. But misfire can mean that the gun didn’t go off when it was supposed to. Now, the Times has confirmed from their sources that, in this case, they were talking about there being three accidental firings.
Baldwin’s stunt double accidentally fired two rounds Saturday after being told that the gun was “cold” — lingo for a weapon that doesn’t have any ammunition, including blanks — two crew members who witnessed the episode told the Los Angeles Times.
“There should have been an investigation into what happened,” a crew member said. “There were no safety meetings. There was no assurance that it wouldn’t happen again. All they wanted to do was rush, rush, rush.”
A colleague was so alarmed by the prop gun misfires that he sent a text message to the unit production manager. “We’ve now had 3 accidental discharges. This is super unsafe,” according to a copy of the message reviewed by The Times.
While it’s not clear that the gun Baldwin had was one which had previously accidentally fired, it would stand to reason that it would be, since it was accidentally fired by his stunt double. But whether or not it was, three accidental discharges and no investigation is a big problem. If true, then you’re not talking about someone making one very bad mistake — you’re talking about a systemic issue. And that people knew about it beforehand and didn’t do what needed to be done. No wonder you had people walking off the set and complaining about safety.
There was another disturbing report from Deadline. “A gun had two misfires in a closed cabin,” a source told Deadline. “They just fired loud pops – a person was just holding it in their hands and it went off.” It’s hard to evaluate that, because you don’t know if the source understands guns or understands what occurred. But guns aren’t just supposed to be going off. This might be an indication that the prop gun was defective. Given the “two misfires” it also sounds like that’s referencing the incident involving the stunt double and then, perhaps the same gun, Baldwin used. So that raises an additional issue.
According to Deadline, when the crew walked off the job they had several complaints, including about gun safety. Several wrote letters of resignation.
One of the crew members posted the following on Facebook:
“We cited everything from lack of payment for three weeks, taking our hotels away despite asking for them in our deals, lack of Covid safety, and on top of that, poor gun safety! Poor on-set safety period!” a member of the camera crew wrote on a private Facebook page. After the walkout, “They brought in four non-union guys to replace us and tried calling the cops on us.”
Despite those reports, the Rust Movie Productions, LLC, claimed in an official statement:
Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down. We will continue to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and offer mental health services to the cast and crew during this tragic time.
If they had accidental discharges on Saturday, how could the company not be aware of that? And if they were, how could they have proceeded without resolving the issue?
Some media are now looking at the young armorer – the person who’s in charge of the weapons – who was on the set, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. She’s the daughter of a famous armorer, but this was her second job, according to reports.
She described in a podcast last month how she almost didn’t take her first job.
‘I almost didn’t take the job because I wasn’t sure if I was ready, but doing it, it went really smoothly,’ Hannah Gutierrez-Reed said in a podcast interview last month after leading the firearms department for The Old Way, starring Nicolas Cage – her first time as head armorer.
She also admitted in the podcast interview that she found loading blanks into a gun to be ‘the scariest’ thing because she did not know how to do it and had sought help from her father, legendary gunsmith Thell Reed, to get over the fear.
According to the search warrant, Gutierrez-Reed put three prop guns on a cart at the location. Then the first assistant director, Dave Halls, grabbed one of the guns from the cart and brought it inside to Baldwin, unaware that it was loaded with live rounds. As we previously noted, ‘live rounds’ doesn’t necessary mean real ammo; ‘live’ is an industry term that refers to a gun being loaded with some material, such as a blank, ready for filming.
Halls yelled, ‘Cold gun!’ before handing the gun to Baldwin, meaning it was safe for the scene. But obviously, it wasn’t.
Right now, the police are still investigating; they haven’t charged or laid blame on anyone. While Halls and Gutierrez-Reed are named in the warrant that isn’t an indication that they are believed to be guilty of anything — it’s just a track of the sequencing of events to know what has to be investigated.