“No excuse” for this kind of incident, says theatrical firearms safety expert
From CNN’s Josiah Ryan
Steve Wolf, a theatrical firearms safety expert who has worked on a number of sets with simulated violence, weighed in on the Alec Baldwin prop gun shooting saying, “there is no excuse for something like this to happen” since “the “physics of how bullets enter people has been known for about 5,000 years.”
“If a bullet comes out and injures someone, that’s exactly what it is designed to do, so you have to figure out how you make sure that doesn’t happen,” he said.
Holding up what appeared to be a weapon and a bullet on CNN, Wolf listed reasonable steps on-set coordinators could take to prevent such incidents.
For example, he said coordinators should always look inside of the cylinder of the weapon to ensure “there is nothing in the gun that could come out.”
Then, holding up what appeared to be a live piece of ammunition, Wolf said the blank should also be checked to ensure there is no bullet sitting on the end of the casing.
“If you put a blank in there, you make sure there is a blank, no bullet on the end of it,” he said. “It is hollow. It is just gunpowder and a piece of paper that holds the powder in.”
If it is just a blank, “all that will come out are hot expanding gases and flame and smoke and a noise,” he added.
Wolf’s remarks come after a film crew member died and another was injured after Baldwin discharged a prop firearm on the set of the movie “Rust,” according to a law enforcement statement provided to CNN.
The investigation “remains open and active” and no charges have been filed, according to the sheriff’s office.
In a statement, Baldwin said he is cooperating with the police investigation. “There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident,” he said.
It’s unclear if charges will be filed in death of Halyna Hutchins, officials say
From CNN’s Kay Jones and Sara Finch
It is unclear if charges will be filed in the death of Halyna Hutchins, the New Mexico district attorney’s office said in a statement.
New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies’ office said in the statement sent to CNN that they are still in the preliminary stages of the investigation.
“We will look into all facts and evidence of the case with great discretion and have further information at a later time. Our thoughts are with all affected by this tragedy,” Carmack-Altwies’ statement said.
Hollywood’s tragic history of on-set accidents
From CNN’s Lisa Respers France
Hollywood is the land of make-believe, but the very real specter of death can hover over television and movie sets.
The death of 42-year-old director of photography Halyna Hutchins while working on the movie “Rust” in New Mexico after actor Alec Baldwin discharged a prop gun is just the latest on-set tragedy.
There have been multiple other cases of deaths of cast and crew from accidents during production, including:
In 1993, Brandon Lee was filming the final scenes of the movie “The Crow” when he died after being shot with a prop gun.
Actor Michael Massee fired at Lee during a scene with a gun that was later found to have been be improperly loaded. Dummy bullets had been replaced with cardboard wadding, but a portion from one of the dummy bullets had broken off and remained in the gun.
That metal tip from the dummy bullet hit Lee’s abdomen. The son of the renowned martial-arts master and actor Bruce Lee was 28.
Hexum was cast to play Mac Harper, a CIA operative posing as a male model in the TV series “Cover Up.”
While filming in 1984, Hexum reportedly was playing around with a prop gun from a scene and shot himself in the head.
The blank drove a piece of his skull into his brain, and he was taken off of life support a week later.
The actor and two child actors were being filmed fleeing from a village during the Vietnam War while a US Army helicopter hovered over them in 1982’s “Twilight Zone: The Movie.”
The copter crashed following a pyrotechnic explosion, landing on Morrow, 53, and the children, who were killed.
Director John Landis, the pilot and three others were charged with involuntary manslaughter. They were all acquitted following a high-profile trial that lasted almost nine months.
Read more here:
Halyna Hutchins’ agency remembers her as “always smiling, always hopeful”
From CNN’s Anna-Maja Rappard and Kay Jones
The agency that represents Halyna Hutchins describes her as a “ray of light” who was always smiling and always hopeful.
In a statement posted on their official Instagram page, Innovative Artists says that Hutchins’ talent “was immense, only surpassed by the love she had for her family.”
“All those in her orbit knew what was coming; a star director of photography, who would be a force to be reckoned with,” it said. “All of us at Innovative Artists are heartbroken. We mourn for her family and we hope this tragedy will reveal new lessons for how to better ensure safety for every crew member on set.”
Hutchins was director of photography for Alec Baldwin’s latest movie, “Rust,” a Western which was being filmed in New Mexico and stars Baldwin, Travis Fimmel and Jensen Ackles.
According to law enforcement statements provided to CNN, Hutchins was shot around 1:50 p.m. local time Thursday and later died of her injuries.
International Cinematographers Guild says it supports a full investigation into shooting incident
From CNN’s Lisa France and Kay Jones
The International Cinematographers Guild said it mourns the loss of its member, Halyna Hutchins, and supports a full investigation.
“The details are unclear at this moment, but we are working to learn more, and we support a full investigation into this tragic event,” a statement obtained by CNN said.
“This is a terrible loss, and we mourn the passing of a member of our Guild’s family,” the statement added.
Union representing entertainment workers says it’s “heartbroken and devastated” over Hutchins death
From CNN’s Kay Jones and Eric Fiegel
The union that represents entertainment workers said it is “heartbroken and devastated” to learn of the death of one of its members, Halyna Hutchins.
“Our entire alliance mourns this unspeakable loss with Halyna’s family, friends, and the Rust crew,” according to a statement from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada (IATSE).
IATSE also says that it’s activating their partnerships to provide support and resources to those who may need it.
“Creating a culture of safety requires relentless vigilance from every one of us, day in and day out. Please, if you see something, say something,” the statement said.
It also asked that anyone who feels unsafe on set to reach out through their safety hotline or their safety info app.
Hutchins was killed on Thursday after a prop firearm was discharged on the set of the movie “Rust.”
Alec Baldwin makes first statement on New Mexico shooting
From CNN’s Chloe Melas, Sandra Gonzalez and Andy Rose
Alec Baldwin has made his first public statement since a fatal shooting on the set of his new film on Thursday.
“There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours,” Baldwin tweeted on Friday. “I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with her husband, offering my support to him and his family. My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna.”
The actor was in New Mexico filming his western film “Rust,” which he’s starring in and producing. He discharged a prop firearm on the set, which resulted in the death of Halyna Hutchins, 42, the film’s director of photography.
The film’s director Joel Souza, 48, was also injured in the incident.
The incident happened at about 1:50 p.m. local time Thursday, investigators said. The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office said the investigation “remains open and active” and no charges have been filed.”
According to investigators, it appears that the scene being filmed involved the use of a prop firearm when it was discharged, a statement from law enforcement said. “Detectives are investigating how and what type of projectile was discharged.”
This type of incident has happened before on sets. While filming the movie “The Crow” in 1993, actor Brandon Lee, the son of Bruce Lee, was killed when struck by a bullet from a gun that was supposed to have just blanks, but had a bullet lodged in the barrel.
Even blanks can be deadly if fired at very close range. In 1984, actor John-Erik Hexum was playing around with a gun on the set of “Cover Up: Golden Opportunity” and died after putting the gun to his head and pulling the trigger.
Halyna Hutchins “was really making a name for herself as a cinematographer,” journalist says
A crew member, who died after actor Alec Baldwin discharged a prop firearm on the set of the movie “Rust” in New Mexico on Thursday, was identified as director of photography Halyna Hutchins.
The 42-year-old “was just in love with movies and movie-making,” said filmmaker and journalist Jim Hemphill, who profiled Hutchins in 2019 as part of a feature on rising cinematographers.
“She grew up on a Soviet military base where there wasn’t much to do but watch movies. So she fell in love with movies at a young age, came over here, was really making a name for herself as a cinematographer of genre movies. She was known for action films and horror films. It is just a devastating loss, I think, to everybody in the cinematography community,” Hemphill told CNN.
Hutchins studied journalism and worked on documentaries in the United Kingdom before she went into filmmaking, he added.
“That led her to come over here to the US to work in a film industry where she kind of brought that eye that she had from documentaries and nonfiction filmmaking to action movies and horror movies. They had this sort of immediacy and realism as well as this eye for beauty that she had and it was a really unique look,” Hemphill said Friday. “It was really announcing her as somebody to watch.”
A prop master explains how a prop gun can be dangerous
A film crew member died and another was injured after actor Alec Baldwin discharged a prop firearm on the set of the movie “Rust” in New Mexico on Thursday, authorities said.
But how can a prop gun kill someone?
“Prop weapons do have a dangerous factor to them even though they’re a lot safer than using a live firearm on set,” says Joseph Fisher, a prop master who works on movie sets and has handled weapons in the military and with the NYPD. “Typical prop load will be about 25 to 50% of the gunpowder in an actual projectile load that would be used in a regular weapon.”
Even though there is no actual physical projectile mounted on the cartridge, there will be gas, heat and air coming out of the weapon since there is gunpowder load present, “and those can cause physical injury within 25 to 50 feet, depending on the load,” Fisher added.
Fisher said those on set “take extreme caution with any kind of weapons, whether they be prop guns, blank guns, and anything in between.
“Typically, we will do a safety brief with the cast and crew. We’ll introduce the weapon to the cast and crew, we’ll let them examine it, we’ll explain the safety precautions that go with each type of prop weapon,” he told CNN.
In a scene involving prop guns, “we do safety distances, we try to keep the actors slightly misaligned with the weapon, so that if the person firing the weapon is firing straight this way, the other actor in frame is just slightly off,” Fisher explained.
Read more about prop guns and how they can be deadly here.