Veteran prop master who turned down gig on ‘Rust’ says he saw ‘massive red flags’ from production

Veteran prop master who turned down gig on ‘Rust’ says he saw ‘massive red flags’ from production

It began as a blur last Thursday, but as more information is revealed, the scene that’s now coming into focus is one where costs were cut and serious safety issues were overlooked. The accidental fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on Alec Baldwin’s Rust set now seems more like the result of a perfect storm of a long list of dangerous and unchecked problems. 

Hutchins, 42, a rising star in a field with few women and the mother of a 9-year-old son, was shot after star and producer Alec Baldwin discharged what was believed to be a prop gun on the set of his new film, Rust, filming in New Mexico. His director, Joel Souza, 48, was injured.

Let’s begin with the latest information first: According to an affidavit obtained by The Washington Post, Assistant Director (AD) Dave Halls, the man who handed the gun to Baldwin, was fired from the 2019 film Freedom’s Path after a crew member was injured when a gun misfired on the set. 

“Halls was removed from set immediately after the prop gun discharged,” a producer who declined to be identified by name told the Post. “Production did not resume filming until Dave was off-site. An incident report was taken and filed at that time.”

John Simmons, the first Black vice president to serve in the American Society of Cinematographers, told Daily Kos that a good AD fights for the safety of everyone on the set. 

“Sadly, from what I’ve learned, the guy [Hall] put the speed of the shooting schedule ahead of safety. He asked the armorer why they had to have the safety speech every time they used a weapon. His reputation is that he’s not known for safety, from what I’ve heard,” Simmons says. 

Hannah Gutierrez, 24, was the armorer on Rust. It was her job to make sure all of the guns were safe to handle. The affidavit states that Gutierrez left three prop guns on a cart outside the building. Halls grabbed one and handed it to Baldwin for rehearsal. He announced, “Cold gun,” while handing the gun to Baldwin, meaning it did not contain live rounds. 

“No crew member should be handling a weapon of any kind other than the armorer, designated prop person or actor. Full stop,” Jeremy Goldstein an Israeli military veteran and a Hollywood armorer told the Post. “The armorer must clear all firearms with the [first assistant director] when bringing them to set, and verify that they are unloaded. Then the armorer does the same with the actor, but the firearm does not leave the custody of the armorer or designated prop person.”

Serge Svetnoy, a gaffer who worked with Hutchins on Rust and held her after she was shot, blames the inexperience of Gutierrez and the producers for cutting costs. 

“Dear Producers, by hiring professionals, you are buying peace of mind for yourself and the people around you,” Svetnoy wrote on his Facebook page. “It is true that the professionals can cost a little more and sometimes can be a little bit more demanding, but it is worth it. No saved penny is worth the LIFE of the person!”

Prop Master Neal W. Zoromski told The Los Angeles Times he was offered the gig on Rust, but turned it down after getting a “bad feeling.” He added that there were “massive red flags” around the production. 

Zoromski says he felt the budget of the film—$7 million—was too small, and he wasn’t getting the answers he wanted around timeframe. He said that it takes weeks or months to hire a prop master, and they were talking to him just a couple of weeks before the shoot was scheduled to start. 

Additionally, Zoromski asked the producers for five technicians but was told it was a “low-budget” production and they would use props from a local prop house. He then asked for two technicians, one as an assistant and the other as an armorer, but Rust producers insisted one person could do the job of both. 

“You never have a prop assistant double as the armorer,” Zoromski told the Times. “Those are two really big jobs.”

Monday, TMZ reported that according to multiple sources involved with the Rust production, the gun had also been used by the crew for target practice—which would explain why there were real bullets versus blanks in the chamber of the gun.

“We’re told this off-the-clock shooting — which was allegedly happening away from the movie lot — was being done with real bullets … which is how some who worked on the film believe a live round found its way in one of the chambers that day,” TMZ reports.

Late Friday, the Times reported that in the hours leading up to the fatal shooting, several union camera crew workers walked off the Rust set.

The union crew had been struggling with labor issues for days, one of which was failed promises for money for hotel rooms closer to the set. As union members prepared to walk, a crew member on the set tells the Times, nonunion crew members appeared to replace them.

Additionally, there’d been two misfires earlier in the week with the prop gun that killed Hutchins. “There was a serious lack of safety meetings on this set,” a crew person told the Times.

“Whether we’re talking about Sarah Jones, a camera assistant who was killed on a set in Savannah, Georgia; a freak gun accident; or people working 18-hour days and falling asleep at the wheel, union or nonunion, safety should be everyone’s concern. It underscores that this is not a glamorous field, it’s one that is fraught with danger. I’m sure Alec Baldwin is beside himself,” Liz Goldsmith, a location scout in Chicago, Illinois, tells Daily Kos.

And of course, the Trump family wouldn’t be the utter asshats they are if they didn’t jump into the tragic death and narcissistically implant themselves. 

Donald “Please Someone Love Me Because My Daddy Never Will” Trump Jr. started selling T-shirts on his website that read, “Guns don’t kill people, Alec Baldwin kills people.” The Hill notes that the shirts sell for $27.99.

And to Junior, if you’re reading this—and we doubt you are because your ego is too fragile—take a listen to actor Michael Rappaport. We couldn’t agree more. 

Piss Stain @DonaldJTrumpJr is currently mocking the death of an innocent woman on the set of Alec Baldwin film. These are the lowest nastiest Pigs, the celebrations will ensue & your family will be alive to see it and I can’t wait.https://t.co/szMZblW0EL pic.twitter.com/tUSPN8pIxy

— MichaelRapaport (@MichaelRapaport) October 23, 2021

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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