Baldwin’s filming highlights the risk of rapid film production

A fatal shot past Alec Baldwin on the film set, he placed the microscope at an often invisible corner film an industry where critics argue that finding profits can lead to dangerous working conditions.

With a budget of about $ 7 million, Western “Rust” was not a micro-budget indie. The previous winner of the best picture on Oscar, “Nomadland” was made for less. But New Mexico the scene where Baldwin filmed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins had inexperienced crew members, obvious security flaws, and a serious labor dispute.

For some in the company, the failures reflect greater problems in the fast-growing film industry.

“Production is exploding, curves are shrinking even more, and budgets are shrinking even more,” said Mynette Louie, a veteran independent film producer. “Something needs to be given.”

This aerial photo shows the Bonanza Creek ranch in Santa Fe, NM, on Saturday, October 23, 2021. Actor Alec Baldwin killed the cameraman on Thursday, October 21, while filming a western filmed on the ranch. , officials said. (AP P

The filming took place at a very crowded time: production increases after pandemic constraints are eased. Streaming services increase the demand for content. And all the while, the industry is struggling with film set standards.

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said there was “some complacency” in handling the gun on set. Investigators found 500 rounds of ammunition – a mixture of ammunition, fake ammunition and alleged live ammunition, although firearms specialist, armored Hannah Gutierrez Reed, said real ammunition should never be present.

The focus was on 24-year-old Gutierrez Reed, who had worked on only one previous feature film, and assistant director Dave Halls, who handed the gun to Baldwin. According to a statement on the search warrant, Halls called a “cold gun” to indicate it was safe to use, but told detectives he had not inspected all of the weapons chambers.


Gutierrez Reed’s lawyers said Friday that he has no idea where the live circles come from. The dangerous situation was blamed on manufacturers facing problems.

“Hannah was employed in two jobs in this film, which made it extremely difficult to focus on her armored work,” attorneys Jason Bowles and Robert Gorence said in a statement. “She fought for training, weapons maintenance days, and adequate time to prepare for the shooting, but was eventually overtaken by production and its department. The entire production set became dangerous due to a variety of factors, including a lack of security meetings.”

President of the Hamptons International Film Festival Alec Baldwin attends the world premiere of National Geographic Documentary Films “The First Wave” at the Hamptons International Film Festival on October 7, 2021 in East Hampton, New York. (Mark Sagliocco / Getty Images for National Geographic / Getty Images)

Veteran props master Neal W. Zoromski told the Los Angeles Times earlier that he turned down an offer to work on “Rust” because the producers insisted that one person could serve as an assistant props master and armored personnel carrier.

Nevertheless, the apparent lack of an appropriate protocol for weapons stunned veteran filmmakers.

“It was incompetence, inexperience and – I hate to say it – a lack of care for my work. If a whole bunch of ammunition is stacked in a box, it’s not done that way,” said Mike Tristano, a longtime professional armored car operator.

Several members of the “Rust” film crew left the filming due to disagreements over working conditions, including safety procedures. According to director Joel Souza, who spoke to detectives, a new crew was hired that morning. He was standing near Hutchins and was injured by a shot.

A chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union in New Mexico called reports of the apprehension of non-union workers “unjustifiable.” The union will soon vote on a new standards agreement that will cover 60,000 members of the film and television team – an agreement reached with major studios after the IATSE prepared for the first strike in its 128-year existence.


“Rust” executive producer Allen Cheney said in a statement that the film’s six producers together have more than 35 years of experience in film and television. “Rust” called it “union-certified production.”

James Gunn, director of Guardians of the Galaxy, believed that a failed culture could be partly to blame.

“Dozens have died or been severely injured at film venues due to irresponsibility, ignoring safety protocols, inadequate leadership and a set culture of mindless rush,” Gunn wrote on Twitter.

Rust administrator Serge Svetnoy accused the film’s producers of “negligence.”

“To save some cents, you hire people who aren’t fully trained for complex and dangerous work,” Svetnoy said in a Facebook post.

This aerial photo shows the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, NM, on Saturday, October 23, 2021. Actor Alec Baldwin killed the cameraman on Thursday, October 21, while filming a western filmed on the ranch. , officials said. (AP P

Gary Tuers, asset master of the films “Tomorrow War” and “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” said the shooting is “an accusation of a modern production culture that has sought tax breaks for the past 30 years and seemed in every way possible (and more which do not) sacrifice crew health and safety in the name of budgetary awareness. “

“This tragedy was an obvious disaster,” he wrote on Instagram. “But it was also a predictable result of the incentive structure in the modern film industry.”

Several companies have teamed up to fund and produce “Rust,” including Baldwin’s El Dorado Pictures. The film, based on the story of Souza and Baldwin, was partly funded by Las Vegas-based Streamline Global, which describes its business model as “acquiring films that offer certain tax benefits” that can “reduce the owner’s federal income tax”. liability from income from other sources. “


BondIt Media Capital, an independent film financier, also funded Rust. The Santa Monica, California-based company has helped fund other action thrillers with men’s films, such as Liam Neeson’s “Honest Thief,” Mel Gibson’s “Force of Nature,” and Bruce Willis ’“ Hard Kill. ”

Even before filming, the most likely destination for “Rust” was probably video on demand. Baldwin’s agency, the Creative Artists Agency, has pre-sold some distribution rights. Last year, Baldwin promoted the film to customers at a virtual film market in Cannes. The actor told The Hollywood Reporter that the script reminded him of “Unforgiven,” a 1992 western starring Clint Eastwood.

The film was shot under a tax provision called Section 181 that applies to films that cost between $ 2.75 and $ 7.5 million. It can allow investors to break down before the film reaches any screen, especially in a country with generous tax breaks like New Mexico. The country has been a popular place for productions in recent years. Some of its regulations, even for gun experts on set, are less stringent than in California.

In his 30-year career, the Tristano armored car has often had no experience with producers or crew members opting for safety. But when safety is in question, he didn’t hesitate to pull his team out of the set.

“Whenever I was on set where there was a lot of panic about whether AD (assistant director) was in a hurry, I said,‘ Okay, I’m locking the gun back to the truck, ’” Tristano said. “I’d say, ‘When you’re guys ready to do the right thing, we’ll do it. If you don’t like it, forgive me.’ “

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