Alec Baldwin shooting: Directors Guild of America launches safety committee after 'Rust' tragedy

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The Directors Guild of America, which represents more than 19,000 members, has launched a review committee to improve on-set safety following the Alec Baldwin “Rust” movie shooting that left cinematographer Halyna Hutchins dead and director Joel Souza wounded in October.

The new team will be led by director Karen Gaviola, who is also involved in an upcoming round of studio contract negotiations, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“We have been leading advocates for mandatory safety training and for demanding increased safety precautions on sets,” the guild told the paper. “The committee has been working with sister guilds and unions and government leaders in California on new legislation to address set safety concerns.”

This aerial photo shows the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, N.M., Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of a Western being filmed at the ranch on Thursday, Oct. 21, killing the cinematographer, officials said. Inset: Halyna Hutchins attends the SAGindie Sundance Filmmakers Reception at Cafe Terigo on January 28, 2019, in Park City, Utah.

This aerial photo shows the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, N.M., Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of a Western being filmed at the ranch on Thursday, Oct. 21, killing the cinematographer, officials said. Inset: Halyna Hutchins attends the SAGindie Sundance Filmmakers Reception at Cafe Terigo on January 28, 2019, in Park City, Utah.
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong  |  Photo by Fred Hayes/Getty Images for SAGindie)

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The DGA did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s emailed questions, and a spokesperson did not return a call seeking comment.

The low-budget “Rust” movie’s shooting allegedly followed a number of missteps and failures to meet the bare minimum of industry safety protocols, according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Hutchins’ family.

After lunch on Oct. 21, assistant director David Halls allegedly handed Baldwin a loaded .45 revolver during rehearsal, telling him it was a “cold gun,” or safe. While going through a scene, with the cameras off, he pulled out the firearm just a few feet away from the victims, according to the lawsuit.

Alec Baldwin spoke with reporters about the deadly on-set shooting on the movie "Rust."

Alec Baldwin spoke with reporters about the deadly on-set shooting on the movie “Rust.”
(Fox News Digital)

Baldwin aimed the weapon at Hutchins and toyed with the hammer while practicing for a scene, according to court filings. The gun went off, sending a .45-caliber round ricocheting through Hutchins and into Souza’s shoulder.

Souza is a member of the DGA, guild president Lesli Linka Glatter said shortly after the shooting in late October.

“I think it’s clear what happened,” Brian Panish, the lead attorney for Hutchins’ husband and son, told reporters in February. “Alec had the gun in his hand. He shot it. Halyna was killed.”

The wrongful death lawsuit names Baldwin and a number of co-defendants connected with the movie’s production, alleging they “had the power to prevent her death if they had only held sacrosanct their duty to protect the safety of every individual on a set where firearms were present instead of cutting corners on safety procedures where human lives were at stake, rushing to stay on schedule and ignoring numerous complaints of safety violations.”

Baldwin’s attorneys have called accusations of recklessness “entirely false.”

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But industry guidelines are clear.

According to the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the Contract Services Administration Trust Fund, “live ammunition” is never supposed to be brought onto a studio lot or stage.

All firearms are supposed to be treated as if they are loaded, according to written guidelines, and guns should never be pointed at anyone “unless absolutely necessary to do so on camera.”

There are also a series of redundant safety checks in which the film’s armorer and prop managers are supposed to check each dummy round to make sure it’s inert.

Crew members raised red flags about “Rust” set safety before and after the shooting.

An aerial view of the film set on Bonanza Creek Ranch where Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins

An aerial view of the film set on Bonanza Creek Ranch where Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins
(Reuters)

A union camera crew walked off the job just hours before the incident, citing safety concerns and a dispute over housing. And gun handling on the set appeared alarmingly “green,” “immature” and “lackadaisical,” according to sources who told Fox News Digital in November that they were horrified at times by some of what they saw.

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“People didn’t know the rules,” one of them said.

Lane Luper, one of the cameramen who quit, described armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed’s crew as “three inexperienced people” in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter.

Santa Fe authorities said they recovered a mix of dummy rounds, blanks and real bullets from the set after the shooting.

Prop masters and other armorers not connected to the movie have told Fox News Digital that the assistant director should not have been handling the firearm without going through proper safety checks with the armorer.

A film’s property master or designated weapons handler is tasked with “checking all firearms before each use,” the CSATF guidelines state, and unloading them when not in use for filming or rehearsals. They are also supposed to ensure the “control and distribution of all firearms on set.”

Blank rounds have a distinct appearance – with a crimped or plugged tip where the bullet would go and no projectile. Dummies and actual rounds can appear identical or nearly identical, depending on the manufacturing process, but the difference is supposed to be obvious to anyone who picks one up and shakes it. Dummies are filled with metal balls instead of gunpowder.

A criminal investigation into Hutchins’ death remains ongoing.

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