Peyton Lewis ‘23, Managing Editor/Layout Director
When the cast and crew arrived on the set of Rust, a western style film starring Alec Baldwin, for a new day’s work, it seemed like it would be just another typical Thursday. However, it would soon prove to be exactly the opposite. On this day, a gun, which at the time was believed to have contained no actual ammunition, would be fired by Baldwin and result in a horrific tragedy.
According to an article by CNN, “Baldwin was demonstrating a “cross draw” — pulling a gun from a holster on the opposite side of his body from his draw hand. The scene required him to point the gun toward the camera.” As it turns out, this gun contained a live round, and it went off, striking director Joel Sancheza in the shoulder, and killing 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. This tragic accident has brought about criticism to the film’s producers and Baldwin himself. The incident has also inspired conversations about gun safety, specifically when it comes to filming movies and television shows.
This is not the first time someone has been killed in an accident involving a prop gun. In 1993, 28-year-old actor Brandon Lee was killed on the set of a fantasy film called The Crow. According to an article by Entertainment Weekly, “A bullet was mistakenly left in a gun from an earlier scene, and was fired at Lee in a scene that called for blank rounds, striking the actor and killing him.” As proven by this most recent incident on the Rust set, gun safety on production sets has failed to improve in the 18 years since.
One thing, though, that has improved tremendously since 1993, is special effects and computer-generated imagery (CGI). Filmmakers are able to create almost anything with computer generated images. Movie franchises such as Jurassic World and Marvel rely heavily on CGI, and almost every movie these days uses at least a little bit of special effects. Yet, despite access to this technology, most movie sets still use real guns. Usually, these guns are filled with blanks. But, as seen in the Rust incident, accidents can happen, and the results are deadly. A petition on Change.org has been launched to ban the use of real guns on production sets. The goal of this petition is to avoid another unfortunate and tragic accident like this one.
ABC cop drama The Rookie has decided to ban the use of guns on set after this incident. The drama’s “new policy will mandate the use of airsoft guns, which are replica guns with reduced power that typically fire plastic pellets,” an article by CNN said. Hopefully, more television and movie sets will follow in The Rookie’s footsteps, to ensure an incident like this will never happen again.
Even though this was an accident, it was a preventable one. Instead, a man was injured, and a talented young woman lost her life. If you would like to help, a GoFund me, which has raised over 225 thousand dollars, has been started by The International Cinematographers Guild to help Hutchins’ family.