Alec Baldwin fatal prop gun shooting raises questions about working conditions

While accidents or dying from prop firearms are extraordinarily uncommon, the unintended killing of Halyna Hutchins on a Sante Fe film set Thursday has sparked inquiries about working conditions for Hollywood crew members.

"I've been in the industry 21 years," stated Kevin Williams, the prop division supervisor on the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. "I have not heard of any circumstances like this. So, this is definitely one of these things, and it sounds like a cliche to say, but it really sounds like a freak accident."

The circumstances of the shooting are beneath investigation. The Santa Fe County Sheriff's workplace confirmed that actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of "Rust," a Western being filmed on the Bonanza Creek Ranch, killing the movie's director of images and injuring its director, Joel Souza.

Security guards and a compliance officer at New Mexico's Bonanza Creek Ranch on Oct. 22, 2021, the movie set the place actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded a director when he discharged a prop gun.Adria Malcolm | Reuters

Souza has since been discharged from the hospital. No prices have been filed. The Santa Fe County Sheriff's workplace didn’t instantly reply to CNBC's request for remark.

While it's unclear at this level what precisely transpired Thursday, many within the trade have begun to inquire about working conditions on set. These queries come because the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees works to finalize a brand new three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers that addresses the union's requires higher working hours, safer office conditions and improved advantages.

"There have been times that I have been on projects for 18 to 20 hours and then been asked to return in six," Williams stated.

Crew protested working conditions

The IATSE issued an announcement Friday addressing Hutchins' dying and inspiring its members to contact the union's security hotline in the event that they really feel unsafe on set.

"Our entire alliance mourns this unspeakable loss with Halyna's family, friends, and the 'Rust' crew," the assertion learn. "Creating a culture of safety requires relentless vigilance from every one of us, day in and day out. Please, if you see something, say something."

The union declined to remark additional.

An individual acquainted with the matter advised NBC News that half a dozen digital camera crew employees walked off the "Rust" set in protest of working conditions simply hours earlier than the shooting came about. Among their considerations had been a number of misfires of the prop gun.

Earlier Friday, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing three unnamed individuals concerned with the manufacturing, that the crew was pissed off with the manufacturing's lengthy hours. It additionally alleged that there have been two earlier prop gun misfires on set, one the earlier week and one on Saturday.

​"The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company," Rust Movie Productions stated in an announcement supplied to CNBC. "Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down."

Rust Productions is cooperating with the Santa Fe authorities of their investigation.

A 'potential failure within the system'

Hollywood productions usually adhere to strict security measures for stunt work, notably relating to weapon and prop security. The Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee has written and distributed security bulletins on finest practices for tv and film productions.

"Blanks can kill," the primary bulletin reads. "Treat all firearms as though they are loaded. 'Live ammunition' is never to be used nor brought onto any studio lot or stage."

These tips are suggestions and should not apply to actuality reveals corresponding to "Mythbusters" or "Top Shot" the place stay rounds are used to check scientific theories or for marksmanship competitors.

"I can say unequivocally that a blank round versus a live round is really easy to identify in the hands of an experienced armorer or prop master," Williams stated. "I can't imagine anybody would say 'whoops' and just put that in there."

He additionally famous that security demonstrations are carried out with all solid and crew concerned in firearm stunts who’re instructed that prop weapons ought to by no means be pointed at one other actor or crew member. In circumstances the place a director needs to movie a weapon being pointed on the digital camera and discharged, ballistic shields are used, he stated.

"There are a lot of safety measures put in place," he stated. "If it turns out that a live round was loaded into a vintage weapon and it turns out that that is how this happened, then we need to figure out why."

That's a "potential failure in the system," Williams stated.

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