Rust assistant director breaks silence on cinematographer’s death

·2-min read

The assistant director who handed Alec Baldwin the gun that killed a cinematographer said he hopes the shooting will lead to change in the industry.

David Halls announced “cold gun” to indicate the weapon was safe before giving Baldwin a firearm on the set of Western film Rust in New Mexico last month, according to court records.

Halyna Hutchins, a rising star cinematographer, was killed when the gun went off, while director Joel Souza was wounded.

Prop Firearm Shooting Assistant Director
Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot and killed on the set of Rust (Jae C Hong/AP)

In a statement to the New York Post, Halls spoke publicly for the first time and said he was “shocked and saddened” by Hutchins’s death.

He added: “It’s my hope that this tragedy prompts the industry to reevaluate its values and practices to ensure no-one is harmed through the creative process again.”

How a live round came to be in the gun has become a point of intense speculation and will be a key finding of the police investigation.

Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the film’s armorer, said there should not have been live ammunition present.

British Comedy Awards 2008 – London
Alec Baldwin accidentally shot a cinematographer in an incident that stunned Hollywood (PA)

Santa Fe county sheriff Adan Mendoza said last week about 500 rounds of ammunition was found on the set of Rust, which was being filmed on a ranch.

They were a mix of live rounds, dummies and blanks, police suspect.

There was “some complacency” in how weapons were handled on the movie set, but it is too soon to determine whether charges will be filed, the sheriff added.

Hollywood star Baldwin, 63, was rehearing a scene when the gun went off.

He was also a producer on Rust, which has stopped production while authorities investigate the incident.

Baldwin spoke publicly about the shooting over the weekend and paid tribute to Hutchins.

“She was my friend,” Baldwin told photographers in Vermont.

“We were a very, very well-oiled crew shooting a film together and then this horrible event happened.”

Baldwin, whose film roles include The Hunt for Red October and Glengarry Glen Ross, called the shooting a “one-in-a-trillion event” and said he had met with the cinematographer’s husband.

He said: “He is in shock, he has a nine-year-old son. We are in constant contact with him because we are very worried about his family and his kid. As I said, we are eagerly awaiting for the sheriff’s department to tell us what their investigation has yielded.”

Legal experts predict a massive fallout from the shooting, which has already prompted an industry-wide debate over on-set safety.

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