Fatal On-Set Shooting Calls For Changes in Protocol


Kevin Mohatt/Reuters

Following Hutchins’ death, signs like these were put up to call for safety on film sets.

Megan Reese, Editor-In-Chief

   On Oct. 21, 2021, the cast and crew of the film “Rust” were rehearsing a scene involving a revolver when the gun was fired and killed the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, and injured the director, Joel Souza. 

   The scene was set up in a wooden church at Bonanza Creek Ranch outside of Santa Fe, and 16 members of the cast and crew were present in the church. There was no video of the shot being fired because the incident took place during a rehearsal. Alec Baldwin, the film’s leading actor, struck Hutchins in the chest. She was airlifted to a hospital in Albuquerque where she died. Souza was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Santa Fe where he was treated and released the next day. 

   According to NBC News, Larry Zanoff, an armorer who worked on Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” and several Marvel movies, “The armorer is responsible for all firearms and blank ammunition on set.” Allegedly, three people handled the gun prior to the shooting: Baldwin, assistant director Dave Halls, and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, according to search warrants released by authorities in Santa Fe. Souza, who was standing behind Hutchins, told investigators  via AP News that there should never be live rounds present near the scene.

   A lethal weapon loaded with live ammunition on a movie set has caused calls for change in the film industry as New Mexico law enforcement is still investigating. Hollywood professionals have discussed increased regulation for firearms on sets or even banning them completely. Some claim that in the age of technology, films shouldn’t need to bring the risk that comes with a weapon on set, and instead let the computers do the work in post production. 

   There is still a lot of investigation work left to do involving the “Rust” shooting. Many questions remain unanswered, but after Hutchins’ death, it is clear that the industry will push for reform.