Outrage and disbelief over the death of “Rust” director of photography Halyna Hutchins, shot dead by actor and producer Alec Baldwin during a scene rehearsal on Thursday, has resulted in many members of the Hollywood production community are coming out of their silence this Sunday. All observers have their gaze on one of the protagonists of the drama: the first assistant director, Dave Halls.
According to the search warrant filed by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department and obtained by the Associated Press, it was Halls who took one of the three pistols from a mobile cart that had been prepared by the production gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez Reed. Halls reportedly declared “cold weapon,” meaning the weapon was unloaded, as he handed it to Baldwin.
The latter is the subject of virulent criticism which began as soon as a call to 911 from a stage assistant designating him as responsible for the accident. Yet a veteran of the film industry since the early 90s, Halls has worked on films such as “Bad Santa”, “The Matrix Reloaded”, “A Simple Plan” and “Fargo”. What today takes on a whole new meaning in a controversial context, Dave Halls also worked as first assistant director on the second unit of the film “The Crow: Salvation”, the sequel to “The Crow”, the film on which Brandon Lee died in a shooting accident on set in 1993. Tragic irony.
He had worked on the sequel to “The Crow”
This coincidence adds to many criticisms of the technician’s work. It would indeed have caused a “dangerous working environment” on previous productions. Producer Maggie Goll worked with Dave Halls in 2019 on Hulu’s “Into the Dark” series. “At first he seemed like an experienced and affable first assistant but that facade quickly disappeared,” she said, adding: “He didn’t maintain a safe working environment,” the producer added in a statement to NBC News. “The sets were almost always doomed to become dangerous, no fire routes established, exits blocked. Security meetings were nonexistent, ”said this regular on Hollywood sets.
The producer even recounted that once Halls kept letting the cameras roll in the middle of a medical emergency – when something happened to the pyrotechnician – and she clarified that this created a new dangerous situation. The most alarming of the anecdotes remains that once the assistant did not organize safety meetings when a gun was used on the set.
An unsafe environment on the set
The members of the “Rust” team who spoke with the Los Angeles Times also said they did not understand how Halls could have handed over a loaded gun to Baldwin without checking it thoroughly. The role of the assistant director was debated after filming, but some production workers said the protocol on many sets is for the first “AD” to check the safety of the weapon. Two days earlier a stuntman had also fired two shots with an unloaded weapon blank. Here again, proof of an unsecured environment on the set according to employees quoted by the LA Times.
For the record, after the death in 2014 of assistant camera Sarah Jones on the set of the film “Midnight Rider”, assistant director Hillary Schwartz was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years probation. As part of her probation, she was also fined $ 5,000 and banned from working as a director, assistant director, producer or any department head in charge of security.
Evidence of the emotion aroused, a fundraiser launched by the union of directors of photography and intended for the family of Halyna Hutchins exceeded $ 180,000 on Sunday morning, far from the initial objective of $ 10,000. A vigil in tribute to the young woman is to take place Sunday evening in Burbank, a city near Los Angeles nicknamed the “media capital of the world” because of the presence of many film and television studios.
The legislation on the field weapons in question
In addition, a petition on the site change.org, calling for a ban on live firearms on filming and for better working conditions for the teams, had collected more than 15,000 signatures this Sunday.
“There is no excuse for something like this to happen in the 21st century,” says the text of the petition launched by Bandar Albuliwi, a screenwriter and director. “There is an urgent need to address the problem of alarming (labor law) abuses and security breaches taking place on film sets, including unnecessary high-risk conditions, such as the use of weapons.” real fire, ”also pleaded Saturday in a statement Dave Cortese, elected Democrat in the Senate of California.
“I intend to vote on a bill that would ban live bullets on filming in California, in order to prevent this type of senseless violence,” the elected official also said. The successful detective series “The Rookie”, which takes place in Los Angeles, decided in the aftermath of the drama to ban all real weapons on its set, a measure effective immediately, according to the movie magazine The Hollywood Reporter.
“As of today, it is recorded on” The Rookie “that any firearm shooting on the set will be done with weapons air soft (dummy weapons, Editor’s note) with artificial flames coming out of the barrel added in post-production ”, announced in a note to his teams the producer of the series Alexi Hawley, cited by The Hollywood Reporter.