Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died on Thursday after she was accidentally shot while filming Rust. Lead actor Alec Baldwin discharged the prop gun previously thought to only contain blanks.
Hutchins, 42, died after being transported to the University Of New Mexico Hospital in critical condition. The film’s director, Joel Souza, was also injured in the incident and was released from the hospital Friday morning.
The cinematographer was a graduate of the prestigious American Film Institute and named a “rising star” by American Cinematographer magazine in 2019. Her recent work includes Archenemy, Darlin’, and Blindfire.
“One of the perks of shooting a western is you get to ride horses on your day off,” Hutchins wrote in an Instagram post earlier this week. The Western Rust tells the story of a teenage boy who goes on the run with his grandfather after the accidental killing of a local rancher.
The last reported death due to a prop firearm happened in 1993, when Bruce Lee’s son, Brandon Lee, was accidentally shot on set of Alex Proyas’ The Crow. Lee’s co-star Michael Massee fired a prop gun loaded with blanks.
Last night, Brandon Lee’s twitter account, which is run by his sister Shannon Lee, shared a message offering condolences to Hutchins’ family:
Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on Rust. No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period.
Hutchins was a vocal supporter of the impending walkout by the International Alliance Of Theatrical Stage Employees, the labor union that represents Hollywood’s crew and technical workers. One of the main pillars for the strike was a call for safer working conditions for crew members. According to a report published by the Associated Press in 2016, from 1990 until the time of publication, at least 43 people died on film sets in the U.S. and more than 150 had been left with life-altering injuries.
Just days before her death, Hutchins shared an image on Instagram from the set of Rust, sharing her support for IATSE’s actions.
On Sunday, October 17, IATSE called off the the strike and averted a Hollywood shutdown after reaching an agreement with the Alliance Of Motion Picture And Television Producers. In a statement, IATSE wrote that the proposed contract “addresses core issues, including reasonable rest periods; meal breaks; a living wage for those on the bottom of the pay scale; and significant increases in compensation to be paid by new-media companies.”
In contradiction to initial reports, IATSE is now attesting the gun discharged by Baldwin while filming contained one live bullet. This has not been corroborated by the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department, which is still conducting its own forensics investigation. IATSE has also reported the prop master used on the set of Rust was not a member of Local 44, the dedicated union for prop masters.