PRODUCTION CREW WALKED OFF BALDWIN MOVIE SET BEFORE TRAGIC SHOOTING

From WWW.DAILYMAIL.CO.UK

The armorer and assistant director who handed off a fatal prop gun to Alec Baldwin have been identified, after it was revealed that some crew members walked off the set of the movie Rust over safety concerns before the tragic shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

A search warrant released Friday said that armorer Hannah Gutierrez laid out three prop guns on a cart outside the filming location, and first assistant director Dave Halls grabbed the gun from the cart and brought it inside to Baldwin, unaware that it was loaded with live rounds.

‘Cold gun!’ shouted Halls before handing the gun to Baldwin, using the phrase to signal to cast and crew that the gun was safe to fire for the scene, the warrant said.

Seconds later, filming a scene inside an Old West-style church, Baldwin apparently aimed towards the camera and pulled the trigger, accidentally killing Hutchins as she filmed him, and injuring director Joel Souza, who stood behind her.

The gun that fired the fatal shot was a vintage-style Colt revolver, DailyMail.com has exclusively learned. The movie, set in 1880’s Kansas, stars Baldwin as the infamous outlaw Harland Rust, whose grandson is sentenced to hang for an accidental murder.

A call sheet from the set identified the armorer’s name as Hannah Gutierrez Reed, according to the Wall Street Journal. Gutierrez-Reed, 24, is the daughter of legendary Hollywood armorer and firearms consultant Thell Reed, who trained her from a young age, she said in a recent podcast interview.

She said in the podcast that she had recently completed her first film as head armorer on The Old Way, starring Nicolas Cage. ‘I almost didn’t take the job because I wasn’t sure if I was ready, but doing it, it went really smoothly,’ she said in the interview last month.

Halls is a veteran assistant director with scores of credits on productions involving prop guns, including Fargo, The Matrix Reloaded, and the TV cop comedy Reno 911.

In 2000, Halls was the second unit’s first assistant director on The Crow: Salvation, the sequel to the film in which Bruce Lee’s son Brandon Lee was killed in an on-set firearms mishap in 1993.

Neither he nor Gutierrez-Reed immediately returned messages from DailyMail.com late on Friday. Neither has been charged or named as a criminal suspect in the case, though a police investigation is ongoing.

The warrant also said that a single bullet struck Hutchins in the chest, and then struck director Joel Souza in the shoulder as he was standing behind her, injuring him, suggesting the bullet traveled all the way through Hutchins’ body.

After the shooting, the armorer took possession of the gun and a spent casing, which were turned over to police, along with other prop guns and ammunition used on the set.

Baldwin also changed out of the Western costume he was wearing, which was stained with blood, and turned it over to police.

The warrant does not reveal the model or caliber of the prop gun that fired the fatal bullet, but the film is set in the Old West of the 1880s and DailyMail.com has learned it was a Colt.

The warrant was obtained Friday so that investigators could document the scene at the ranch where the shooting took place.

Unionized workers had walked off the set hours before the fatal shooting, after they complained about long hours, shoddy conditions and another safety incident days earlier involving ‘two misfires’ of a prop weapon.

A yet-unnamed prop master who oversaw the gun used in the fatal shooting was a non-union worker who was ‘just brought in’ to replace the workers who left over safety concerns, a source involved in the movie told the New York Post.

It’s unclear whether Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer, had recently joined the production, or was one of the crew members who stayed behind after the walk-off.

However, a link in her Instagram bio points to an article about Rust from May, suggesting she had been attached to the production for some time.

Unionized employees had been complaining about the fact they had to stay overnight in Albuquerque – an hour’s drive from the set – and not Sante Fe because production wouldn’t pay for their hotels, according to sources cited by The Los Angeles Times and multiple social media posts by film and TV insiders.

When they turned up to set to clear their things on Thursday, they found they’d been replaced by locals.

It begs the question of who those local workers were, what their training was and to what extent did they check the weapon before it was handed to Baldwin.

Deadline also cites an unnamed source who said a gun had gone off ‘in a cabin’ while someone was holding it, days prior to the shooting that killed Hutchins.

‘A gun had two misfires in a closed cabin. They just fired loud pops – a person was just holding it in their hands and it went off,’ they said, apparently referring to unintentional discharges.

Rust Production LLC did not respond to repeated requests for comment from DailyMail.com on Friday about the incident, but members of the union that represents many of the crew who were involved in the production said they had expressed fears about on-set safety.

It is the same union that had been threatened to galvanize an industry-wide strike in protest over poor working conditions including low pay and laxed safety. IATSE Local 44 – whose members were involved in the Rust production – said in a statement to its members that no union members were on the set on Thursday.

One text message that was circulating on social media, shared repeatedly by union members, refers to a ‘walk out’ by staff the day before the tragedy.

The text message claims that Halyna was one of the few people who decided to stay. She belonged to IATSE Local 600 and had been campaigning for better conditions for her team when she was killed.

One person who was involved with the production posted on social media that crew had been sleeping in their cars at the movie set because they were too tired to drive the one-hour back to Albuquerque after grueling days.

The movie does not have a large budget like other productions, and one experienced prop master who was offered the job turned it down because it wasn’t paying enough for her to take the job.

DailyMail.com spoke with the crew member who ranted on social media about the deplorable work conditions that led union members to walk out hours before the fatal accident.

‘I am literally on the show in New Mexico with him and the producers on that movie are treating the local crew like f**king dog sh*t,’ he wrote in one post earlier this week.

‘At the moment I’m fighting to get my crew, on this movie, hotel rooms when we go long or are too tired to drive the hour back from location to Albuquerque,’ he wrote in another. ‘They either say no or offer a garbage roadside motel….’

Reached by DailyMail.com and shown the posts in question, the member, who lives in Albuquerque, N. M., didn’t deny he wrote them. But he wouldn’t answer follow-up questions, saying he didn’t want to interfere with the police investigation.

‘I can’t speak to anything until I know that the police have the strongest possible case against the people who are ultimately responsible for this,’ he told DailyMail.com.

Zak Knight, a pyrotechnic and special effects engineer who is a member of Local 44, told DailyMail.com on Friday that he’d heard from others involved in the production that there was a walk-out.

‘It’s very possible that the union members said ‘we’re out’, and they brought in people to fill the positions on the fly. There’s a lot of grey area.’

He added that different gun laws between New Mexico and California may have also contributed to the accident. In California, both a trained armorer and a prop master is required on a film set and those are the standards the union adheres to as well.

‘You will find the best and most well-trained individuals in Los Angeles. You can’t guarantee that as you go across the country,’ he told DailyMail.com on Friday.

In the days before the tragedy, IATSE had been threatening a large-scale strike that would have crippled Hollywood production. Among the complaints were overworking staff and poor rates. Baldwin recorded a video of himself encouraging the union members to strike if they felt they needed to, saying studio bosses ‘don’t give a f**k about you’, that the union shared online.

‘There’s a direct correlation between maintaining a safe set and the hours that we work. At a certain time there’s no such thing as a safe set if we’re all exhausted,’ Knight, a special effects artist, said.

Whatever happened in the moments leading up to her death, Knight said it was caused by a ‘cascade of failures’ by multiple people.

‘We have a hard and fast rule that no live ammunition ever goes into a prop truck or set at any time. We just don’t do it.

‘If you see bullets on set they are complete dummy rounds and are in no way functional. This goes back to Brandon Lee. There’s protocol.

‘There should have never been live rounds on a movie set, that’s number one. Number two is every single person on a movie set has a right to inspect a weapon before it’s fired. And number three is, there is no reason to ever put a person in front of a weapon that’s firing.

‘Anytime you see a movie where the barrel is pointed down the camera lens, there should not be an operator behind it. It’s obvious that the considerations of this resulted in that gun being pointed dir… (Read more)