‘Rust’ producers deny safety failures over Halyna Hutchins shooting

The production company has argued that it was "not responsible for supervising the film set"

The producers of Rust have disputed an official report stating they failed to adhere to gun safety prior to the on-set shooting involving Alec Baldwin.

Last October, the actor was rehearsing a scene for the film when he discharged a live round from a prop gun on set, which killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured the director, Joel Souza.

Baldwin has claimed that he was told the gun was “cold” by the assistant director, and the Sante Fe Sheriff’s department and district attorney are continuing to investigate the shooting.

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Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin CREDIT: Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images for National Geographic

The film’s production company previously said it “enforced all applicable safety protocols,” despite the New Mexico Environment Department imposing its maximum fine on Rust Movie Productions for “serious and wilful” failures.

Now the company behind the film has continued to defend its actions, arguing that it was not responsible for supervising the film set, “much less for supervising specific protocols such as the maintenance and loading of weapons” (per BBC News).

“The law properly permits producers to delegate such critical functions as firearm safety to experts in that field and does not place such responsibility on producers whose expertise is in arranging financing and contracting for the logistics of filming,” the statement continued, adding that previous discharges of blank rounds on set had been “properly addressed”, including with safety briefings for cast and crew, and did not violate firearm safety protocols.

Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins dead fatal shooting prop gun Alec Baldwin
Halyna Hutchins photographed in 2019. Credit: Fred Hayes/Getty Images for SAGindie

The company also refuted claims that the movie’s armourer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, had been “overburdened” by her additional role as a props assistant, saying her responsibilities as armourer “always took precedence” and that she had sufficient time to inspect the ammunition, but “didn’t do her job properly”.

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Lawyers for Gutierrez Reed said the NMED report showed she was “not provided adequate time or resources to conduct her job effectively, despite her voiced concerns,” and that the body “also determined that production failed to call Hannah in to perform her armourer duties and inspect the firearm right before its use in the impromptu scene with Baldwin”.

They added: “As we have stated before, had anyone from production called Hannah back into the church before the scene to consult with her, this tragedy would have been prevented.”

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