October 26, 2021

Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin was drawing a revolver across his body and pointing it at a camera during rehearsal on the set of ‘Rust’ when the weapon fired and struck the cinematographer in the chest, according to an affidavit released on Sunday. The affidavit provided additional details about Thursday's accidental shooting in New Mexico that killed 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza.” Reuters

“An assistant director unwittingly handed Alec Baldwin a loaded weapon and told him it was safe to use in the moments before the actor fatally shot a cinematographer, court records released [last] Friday show.” AP News

Both sides condemn the reported pattern of safety failures on the set:

“Baldwin served as an on-location producer for the movie… Three former members of the film’s crew have reportedly stated that there were at least two accidental gun discharges on the set just days before the fatal shooting… Even if Baldwin was unaware of [these] prior gun mishaps, a prosecutor could effectively argue that a responsible producer would have put procedures in place to make sure that such vital information was conveyed to him in his executive capacity overseeing the filming while on the scene. Failure to do so would constitute the kind of recklessness or negligence the law forbids…

“[The film’s armorer -- the person on set responsible for handling, maintaining, and securing firearms] is reportedly 24 years old and the daughter of a well-known Hollywood armorer and stunt man. She stated that she learned from her father and was otherwise self-taught but ‘still-learning.’ Is this the kind of person who should be placed in charge of dangerous instrumentalities on a movie set? Were producers negligent or reckless in hiring someone who was, by her own admission, a neophyte in the industry? Was safety sacrificed to save money in this low-budget production?”
Gregg Jarrett, Fox News

“Six camera crew members, who are part of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), had walked off the set after their concerns about safety and working conditions had gone unaddressed. They quit just six hours before the fatal shooting occurred, and they were replaced by nonunion crew members. A producer threatened to call security if the union crew members did not voluntarily leave the property… Hutchins herself had been advocating for better working conditions on the set before the incident occurred…

“‘This is not a freak accident,’ says [Leah Caddigan, an independent filmmaker and former network production assistant]. ‘Multiple steps of safety fail-safes had to be purposely ignored in order for a person to get fatally shot and another person to get injured.’… [Hutchins’s death] is a tragic consequence of studios prioritizing profit and speed over crew members’ lives. Alec Baldwin’s culpability isn’t about him pulling the trigger on a prop gun — it’s about his and his fellow producers’ cost-cutting decisions.’”
Alex N. Press, Jacobin Magazine

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Left

“According to an affidavit filed in a Santa Fe court last week, assistant director David Halls yelled ‘cold gun’ before handing the firearm to Baldwin for the scene. The court document states that Halls didn't know there were live rounds in the weapon, which was one of three prop guns that were set up in a cart by an armorer for the movie. In movie parlance, a ‘cold gun’ is not loaded with any ammunition…

“Baldwin did not have the responsibility to stop the rehearsal and examine the gun's cylinder to determine that the supposed ‘cold gun’ was loaded with blanks. By custom and practice in the movie industry, an actor has the right to rely on other individuals on set with the responsibility to ensure that prop firearms are safe for use.”
Paul Callan, CNN

“On Friday, producers of the ABC show The Rookie announced the series will no longer use live guns on set… Other TV and movie productions may follow suit… A single, apparently accidental death has caused the entertainment industry to rethink its firearms practices — to question its priorities and rules, the way it does business. Things are already starting to change. If only we could do the same for the many Americans who die of gun violence every day, on the streets and in their own homes…

“The Biden administration announced some initiatives back in June, but they mostly amounted to a pledge to more vigorously enforce gun laws already on the books. The House of Representatives passed a pair of measures earlier this year, but they've gone nowhere in the Senate… the overall lack of action suggests we collectively have decided that thousands upon thousands of gun deaths are somehow acceptable.”
Joel Mathis, The Week

From the Right

“Alec Baldwin is likely to be held, at least in part, responsible. ‘If you’re capable of memorizing 120 pages of dialogue, you can memorize four lines of gun safety,’ special-effects and firearms expert Steve Wolf tells The Post. ‘If that scene required him to put the gun to his head and pull the trigger, I’m sure he would have taken a look inside the gun. Wouldn’t you?’…

“As a veteran actor who has starred in multiple films involving firearms — ‘The Departed’ and two installments of ‘Mission: Impossible’ come to mind — you would think Baldwin would be extra cautious wielding a gun on set. ‘Don’t point guns at people,’ is the most elemental rule on sets, Wolf says… As for how live ammunition found its way on set, Wolf is speechless.”
Maureen Callahan, New York Post

“The only way you end up with someone being shot on a film set is if there are multiple safety failures. One expert who’s worked on films told the Deseret News that he once shut down an entire set because a crew member brought live rounds in for a scene in which an actor simply had to pick up those rounds off the ground. Just the presence of real ammo was too great a risk. What the hell happened on Alec Baldwin’s set, then?”
Allahpundit, Hot Air

Some ask, “Why, with all of the technology available to the film industry, are we still allowing clueless actors to handle live firearms on movie sets? Couldn’t they all have actual prop guns that are incapable of firing a projectile and just work in the audio and visual gunfire effects using CGI in post-production?… If Hollywood can convincingly make a tyrannosaurus rex come out of a jungle and rip someone out of a bathroom stall (which they were able to do decades ago), they should be more than capable of producing a realistic depiction of gunfire.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

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