Rust assistant director hopes Alec Baldwin shooting prompts film industry changes

Alec Baldwin on set after the shooting. Credit: AP

The assistant director who handed Alec Baldwin the gun that killed a cinematographer has said he hopes the shooting will prompt the film industry to "reevaluate" its safety measures. David Halls issued a statement to the New York Post, breaking his silence following the October 21 fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins and the wounding of director Joel Souza during production of the Western Rust in New Mexico. Halls said Hutchins was a friend and one of the most talented people he worked with.

“I’m shocked and saddened by her death,” he said in the statement. “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.” Halls didn’t provide any details of what he thinks might be reformed or how changes might have helped avoid what happened on the set of Rust.

Halls had been sacked from a previous job after a gun went off on a set and wounded one of the film crew.

In a statement seen by ITV News, a producer for the movie Freedom’s Path said Halls was fired from the 2019 production after a crew member suffered a minor injury "when a gun was unexpectedly discharged." The producer, who asked not to be identified by name, wrote that Halls "was removed from the set immediately." Production did not resume until Halls was gone.

Alec Baldwin accepts the award for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series for 'Saturday Night Live'. Credit: AP

Court records have provided details about the death of Hutchins on the set of Rust near Santa Fe. Authorities said Halls handed the weapon to Baldwin and announced “cold gun,” indicating the weapon was safe to use. Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said last week there was “some complacency” in how weapons were handled on the set. Investigators found around 500 rounds of ammunition - a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and suspected live rounds - even though the set’s firearms specialist, armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, said real ammo should never have been present. Ms Gutierrez Reed said through her attorneys that she didn’t know where the live rounds came from and blamed producers for unsafe working conditions.

Halyna Hutchins Credit: @halynahutchins/Instagram

Souza told detectives that Baldwin was rehearsing a scene in which he drew a revolver from his holster and pointed it toward the camera, which Hutchins and Souza were behind. Souza said the scene did not call for the use of live rounds. The investigation is ongoing, and authorities have said much work needs to be done before getting to a point where charges could be considered. Hollywood professionals have been baffled by the circumstances of the movie-set shooting. It already has led to other production crews stepping up safety measures.

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