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Director of photography killed, movie director injured after Alec Baldwin discharged prop firearm on movie set


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1 hour ago, Travis Shannon said:

As for your secondary possibility it does happen and I’ve worked as a camera assistant on exactly those reality jobs focusing on firearms where we document the weapons being fired at the range- the difference is that they are always in the care of esteemed professionals who know every basic of firearm training which is why they are entrusted with live rounds, they are in no way similar to an in character actor with no generally next to no firearms training so honestly it’s not comparable in my mind.

Bullets don’t belong on film sets. 

My reasoning is that NO ONE should handle any kind of firearm or prop (whether it being empty OR containing blanks OR containing live rounds) without having proper extensive safety training for handling and using real firearms first. I would not entrust an actor with a firearm containing blanks if he does not know how to safely handle a similar weapon containing live rounds. Just take the freaking actors and crew to a shooting range for couple of hours and teach them to use the weapons safely with actual real rounds... ONLY THEN they could be even theoretically entrusted with the unloaded prop guns or guns with blanks inside. People have to respect the weapons first before starting to handle them by themselves. and only getting them used to handle "toy guns which are not lethally dangerous and which don't need to be handled carefully" is the exact opposite of the safe handling culture we are trying to emphasise here. 

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Here is what I believe should happen:

First AD, Dave Wells: PROSECUTE

”Amourer”, Hannah Gutierrez: PROSECUTE
 

All producers including Alec Baldwin for not securing a safe and sane work place resulting with a work place death and injury: PROSECUTE

Possibly the director as well if it is proven that he was complicit with promoting an unsafe work environment.

 

Edited by Gregory Irwin
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10 hours ago, aapo lettinen said:

I can see why a corner cutting indie production would use real rounds for close ups: no need to specifically get non operational but real looking props rounds made which would cost more than use the same rounds the gun's owner already has. I never said this was OK, I just said that it is easy to see why this could happen in a small production when corners are cut enough to make things difficult to do safely.

Using live rounds would be possible if shooting content where the guns are used on a shooting range and handled just the same way than when used for normal target practicing (not pointing them at people, treating them with respect, no one touches any guns when there is people in the target zone, etc.) . That would work for a documentary style content but for a full scale feature film it is not practical and not safe enough whether shooting on a shooting range or not

You mention close up. Are real rounds used to show muzzle flash? Sounds very dangerous fooling with live rounds on a set. I thought movies only used blanks with the little remote explosion devices to show impact. 

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It's just all very sad and tragic.

As we all know, guns are incredibly dangerous. Any time there are real guns around, whether believed to be loaded with live rounds or not, or whether believed to be loaded with blanks, everyone should make sure they can totally trust all who are present to be safe with guns, and have been thoroughly trained with them. I've worked in jobs requiring use of guns. People who are fully trained are incredibly safe and strict with them, if they are well trained. There are many rules for what you just never do. Never even lean a gun up against a wall or fence, etc. Always carry pointed straight up. Never climb through a fence with one. Put it through the fence first, on the ground. Then climb through. Tragic mistakes just shouldn't happen.

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3 hours ago, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

You mention close up. Are real rounds used to show muzzle flash? Sounds very dangerous fooling with live rounds on a set. I thought movies only used blanks with the little remote explosion devices to show impact. 

They don't use rounds with bullets for muzzle flash, for close ups, where you can see the chambers they have dummy rounds. There are now a number of TV interviews where film armourers show what they do.

https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/multiple-mistakes-necessary-for-gun-accident-on-modern-film-set-expert-124420677853

There  was a good one on the BBC News channel at 9.30pm last night, but unless you've got iPlayer you probably can't get it.

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4 hours ago, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

You mention close up. Are real rounds used to show muzzle flash? Sounds very dangerous fooling with live rounds on a set. I thought movies only used blanks with the little remote explosion devices to show impact. 

blanks should have more pronounced muzzle flash so if wanting to have a cinematic flash it would be much more practical to use blanks for that purpose in any case. 

I was talking about corner cutting indie productions using real rounds for closeup shots where it is shown how the rounds are loaded into the magazine/gun (so that if using a blank for this the viewer would see immediately they are blanks because they don't have bullets in place and/or are crimped.  Real productions would have possibility to make special rounds which have the casing and bullet in place but which don't contain any gunpowder or the primer

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I am surprised these days why blanks need to be used at all.  Surely plastic fake bullets can be shown being loaded if necessary, and the actual firing can be done either using some kind of lighting/smoke effect or created later in post. Or both.  The recoil effect if needed, would obviously be acted by the 'gunman'.

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29 minutes ago, Doug Palmer said:

I am surprised these days why blanks need to be used at all.  Surely plastic fake bullets can be shown being loaded if necessary, and the actual firing can be done either using some kind of lighting/smoke effect or created later in post. Or both.  The recoil effect if needed, would obviously be acted by the 'gunman'.

most productions nowadays seem to fake them in post because it is much cheaper than arranging safe shooting conditions for using blanks. CGI muzzle flashes and airsoft guns differ a lot from blanks and real guns in the end result but it is so much cheaper and easier to shoot the scene with them that they are used anyway. most of the flicks using guns are not using them in a realistic way anyway (more of a shoot em up, bang bang, big explosion style) so the cgi muzzle flashes and unrealistic bb/airsoft guns fit those productions perfectly

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We're all appalled by what appears to have happened here and if everything we're hearing is both true and complete then I find it hard to disagree with much of what has been said.

If the information we have is true and complete.

Personally I feel that everyone involved deserves the benefit of the doubt until the facts are in, given that the degree of ineptitude that appears to have taken place is so extreme that it calls into question whether we're really getting the whole story.

I would advise caution on further speculation, much as, for instance, professional pilots tend to avoid commenting on the cause of air crashes until some sort of official report has been issued.

 

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As Phil says, no doubt there will be an inquest on the death and the cause, plus any legal/criminal cases that will result. As with air crashes, hopefully all aspects will be covered, both the safety, procedural and human aspects. The latter in aviation covers the power dynamics and relationships inside the cockpit, which have been factors that contributed to a number of accidents/incidents.

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12 minutes ago, Brian Drysdale said:

As Phil says, no doubt there will be an inquest on the death and the cause, plus any legal/criminal cases that will result. As with air crashes, hopefully all aspects will be covered, both the safety, procedural and human aspects. The latter in aviation covers the power dynamics and relationships inside the cockpit, which have been factors that contributed to a number of accidents/incidents.

technical diving community has improved all the safety aspects a lot when adopting experiences from other industries, especially aviation and analysing how aviation accidents are investigated and learned from. This has improved the overall safety a lot and prevented thousands of life threatening scuba accidents from happening.

The film industry has not adapted this approach yet and thus the film industry relies only on the reputation of people to try to prevent accidents from happening (never hiring a person again if he/she has made a mistake in the past) instead of preventing the conditions and procedures in the workplace which promote the accidents being more likely in the first place (for example power dynamics, bad communication, trying to hide small mistakes instead of correcting them, taking shortcuts on checklists and safety checks, wrong or lazy maintenance procedures, etc). Simply determining that the root cause of an accident was a "human error" does not improve safety any further nor prevent consequent accidents from happening... it just promotes culture where people are trying to hide their mistakes rather than correcting them and learning from them as a group

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The medical community (in the UK at least) also haven't taken up the same methods. That's possibly due to a history of litigation, although the common complaint by the people making the claim is that just to find out what happened and trying to make sure it doesn't happen again.

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The brief way to express this is that the rulebook is written in blood.

The problem is that it doesn't always work. NASA infamously succumbed to go-fever, the normalisation of deviance and a detached and actively anti-technical management culture before Challenger, and they did something shockingly similar in Columbia. I'd bet we'll discover that the rulebook was not followed here for very similar reasons.

P

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Lucien Charles is a an IATSE union prop master who works on many police and “gun” involved shows in New York. He is trained and certified in the use of firearms on a movie set. Here is an excerpt from a recent interview:
 

Charles also pointed out that when it came to projects he’s been involved with like "The Blacklist" and "FBI: Most Wanted," the actors became well-educated with the props they were using – and what can occur if they’re not careful.
"They did send the actors to weapons specialists for theatrical gun training – how to hold a gun," he said. "Because a lot of them, they don’t know how to hold a gun and never shot a gun before. So they get… the same class that union members take with the vendor weapon specialists."

"Usually a camera will be there," he said. "We’ll give them shade shields [and] ear protection, depending on how loud the load is. I do a safety check every time before I hand a gun to an actor. If you do enough safety checks along the way, nothing should happen. But obviously, the gun on Alec Baldwin’s set was not checked. Because if it was, they would have seen the bullet in there. Because a blank and a bullet look like two different types of ammo. With a bullet, you know. You have the bullet at the end of the casing. But on a blank, the front is crimped."

"They would have been able to tell the difference if they had done a proper safety check," he added.

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you know the swiss cheese model of accidents?

this case will become infamous for how hard every party involved worked to line up the cheese holes for the accident to happen.

each new piece of evidence i hear is more mindboggling than the previous one.

good on the IA camera crew for walking away, but it is a terrible catch 22 for halyna - as a rising star sometimes you can't walk away from your career-building project.

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Blanks look different than real bullets. But, dummy bullets, that are sometimes used in revolver chambers when seen in the shot, look like real bullets.

it’s possible that it was assumed that dummy bullets were loaded in the weapon, making it a “cold gun”… when in reality they were real bullets which should never be present anywhere on a film set.

The “reports” that the prop weapons were used for target shooting when not filming are shocking, if true.

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I just wanted to add my 2 cents. 

Turns out the armorer was a stunt shooter. They were showing people how well they shoot, using real ammo. So there was LIVE ammo on set, which is a HUGE no-no. First rule of gun safety on set; never have real ammo anywhere near set.

Obviously everyone knows about the 1st AD's issues and the stressful days, but the armorer was nowhere to be found when the first AD grabbed the weapon. Second rule of gun safety on set; the guns are being watched by someone 24/7. End of day, the guns are put in a locked safe or building and security personal assigned to watch over it. I don't care how small the production is, no weapon of any kind should be "left lying around" at any point during production.

The actor in question was not trained on how to check their weapon before using it in a scene. Third rule of gun safety on set; anyone who touches a gun, should be trained on how to use it before the production beings. They should know not to point the gun at anyone, no matter what the reason. The gun should always be on "safety" (uncocked) and pointed at the ground when out of a holster or not in shot. The actor should know, never to point it AT anyone, even if it's for the shot. 

Finally and this is what kills me about this production. Never on any circumstance have "real" guns on set. Prop guns exist for a reason. Where they are not 100% perfect as they can throw debris all over the place, prop guns do not allow the loading of real bullets, it's impossible. They have a blocker in the barrel that stops any use of them. Plus, some prop guns are bored out slightly larger, so they can't even accept real bullets.

This was a horrible and tragic event. Many lives have been ruined all because nobody really knew the basic rules. As someone who enjoys shooting guns and understands the safety aspects. As someone who has used prop guns on sets before. As someone who has guns in my house as well. I simply can't understand why all the rules were broken. It's heartbreaking for everyone involved and for the industry as a whole. 

The 1st AD and armorer will be the ones to blame and take the stiffest punishments. The producers will also face a lot of flack especially the line producer for hiring those people in the first place, but I don't think any of them will see jail time. The production will probably not start back up again, not only due to this incident, but the way the crew were treated. The stories coming out from set are horrible, stupid long hours, people sleeping in cars because the hotel was so far away, it's all unacceptable. The entire crew should have walked when the safety practices went down hill, but many people can't afford to lose work, so they stayed. When money trumps safety, you know things are bad. We as a community need to help fix these issues and prevent further accidents like this on set. It's our prerogative to do so and I hope people listen up this time around. 

 

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30 minutes ago, Tyler Purcell said:

I just wanted to add my 2 cents. 

Turns out the armorer was a stunt shooter. They were showing people how well they shoot, using real ammo. So there was LIVE ammo on set, which is a HUGE no-no. First rule of gun safety on set; never have real ammo anywhere near set.

Obviously everyone knows about the 1st AD's issues and the stressful days, but the armorer was nowhere to be found when the first AD grabbed the weapon. Second rule of gun safety on set; the guns are being watched by someone 24/7. End of day, the guns are put in a locked safe or building and security personal assigned to watch over it. I don't care how small the production is, no weapon of any kind should be "left lying around" at any point during production.

The actor in question was not trained on how to check their weapon before using it in a scene. Third rule of gun safety on set; anyone who touches a gun, should be trained on how to use it before the production beings. They should know not to point the gun at anyone, no matter what the reason. The gun should always be on "safety" (uncocked) and pointed at the ground when out of a holster or not in shot. The actor should know, never to point it AT anyone, even if it's for the shot. 

Finally and this is what kills me about this production. Never on any circumstance have "real" guns on set. Prop guns exist for a reason. Where they are not 100% perfect as they can throw debris all over the place, prop guns do not allow the loading of real bullets, it's impossible. They have a blocker in the barrel that stops any use of them. Plus, some prop guns are bored out slightly larger, so they can't even accept real bullets.

This was a horrible and tragic event. Many lives have been ruined all because nobody really knew the basic rules. As someone who enjoys shooting guns and understands the safety aspects. As someone who has used prop guns on sets before. As someone who has guns in my house as well. I simply can't understand why all the rules were broken. It's heartbreaking for everyone involved and for the industry as a whole. 

The 1st AD and armorer will be the ones to blame and take the stiffest punishments. The producers will also face a lot of flack especially the line producer for hiring those people in the first place, but I don't think any of them will see jail time. The production will probably not start back up again, not only due to this incident, but the way the crew were treated. The stories coming out from set are horrible, stupid long hours, people sleeping in cars because the hotel was so far away, it's all unacceptable. The entire crew should have walked when the safety practices went down hill, but many people can't afford to lose work, so they stayed. When money trumps safety, you know things are bad. We as a community need to help fix these issues and prevent further accidents like this on set. It's our prerogative to do so and I hope people listen up this time around. 

 

 Tyler is spot on with his assessment. I couldn’t agree more. This incident has really affected me. I am beyond saddened and extremely angry over this. Not to take away from Sarah (Jones) or Brent (Hershman) or any other set tragedy but for some reason, this one has hit me hard. 
 

Let’s be smart everyone. Let’s take an extra moment and think things through. We need to look out for one another everyday on every set. After all,  we work in a world of make believe. 
 

G

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On 10/25/2021 at 9:44 AM, aapo lettinen said:

most of the media sources specifically stated them being actual rounds, NOT blanks. the most probable explanation for that (if it not being intentional sabotage) is that someone used the gun for target practice (aka playing with it) and just left in laying around when getting bored to it and then the AD just grabbed the nearest gun when it got hasty to shoot the next scene. It tells a lot about the safety culture of the production that there is just random guns laying around with unknown contents and NO ONE checks what is in them before starting using them as props. that is insane on so many levels 

Wow okay. I've seen a lot more sources saying that at this point and I'm furious about it. This is a huge mess and I feel like this is effecting the entirety of the industry at this point. There should not have been live rounds on set to begin with and whomever was handling the weapons was obviously not qualified enough, if at all, to use the guns. I've heard she was 24 or something like that... Is that correct? Either way, this is a huge thing for me, again, why the hell was there ammo on set to begin with? They should have only been using blanks, right? I don't think I've ever heard of people using live rounds in a production... If you have an example, please give it to me because I'm actually really curious to see if that's ever happened. There are so many accidents that have been occurring on set and again, I think we're all dealing with this and I 100% believe we're all paying for it. It's certainly not fair to Baldwin who is an emotional mess at this current time and I'm livid about all of this. 

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On 10/22/2021 at 7:53 AM, Gregory Irwin said:

Yes 2 people were involved. The cinematographer is now dead! The director was injured! There is no excuse for this under any circumstances!!! I looked at IMDb and RUST seemed like a smaller size production that had people of limited experience in charge. But that is not the real issue. We work in a world of make believe. In reality, this is COMMON SENSE! It’s not even a movie issue. Simple common sense would have prevented this from ever happening. And to answer your question, this thankfully does not happen often. But when it does happen, the people involved need to be held responsible. 

I'm willing to bet it wasn't a high budget movie, so they're hiring people with much MUCH less experience. I haven't looked into the budgeting for it, any input? 

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1 hour ago, Amber Rout said:

It's certainly not fair to Baldwin who is an emotional mess at this current time and I'm livid about all of this. 

I respectfully disagree with you Amber about Baldwin. Yes, he’s an emotional mess and should be. But as an actor who is charged with handling firearms on set, he is equally responsible for gun safety. I’ve been on numerous big, action, gun movies where the cast shares in the gun check. Also, Baldwin is a producer on the film and he did not ensure a safe workplace. He had to be aware of the prior safety complaints and yet nothing was done about them. I bet he will be charged with involuntary manslaughter. He must be for his shared negligence along with the others. 
But I do appreciate everything else you said. 
 

G

Edited by Gregory Irwin
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Quote

There were some 500 rounds of ammunition, a mix of live, dummy rounds and blanks, on set as well as potentially additional live rounds recovered. 

Quote

The sheriff also said while the industry generally has had a record "of being safe," there appears to have been "complacency" on this set.

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/rust-shooting-alec-baldwin-active-part-investigation-district-attorney-170600019.html

 

A mix of live rounds and dummy rounds on the same set sounds very scary. It would be way way easier to mistake a live round being a dummy round than to mistake a blank being dummy round or a live round being a blank.  First bringing dummy rounds on set because they look like live rounds close enough but then bringing live rounds as well which are similar enough to dummy rounds that someone could mix them up with deadly results

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On 10/26/2021 at 9:59 PM, aapo lettinen said:

tThe film industry has not adapted this approach yet and thus the film industry relies only on the reputation of people to try to prevent accidents from happening (never hiring a person again if he/she has made a mistake in the past)

The armorer and assistant director on the Rust production had both demonstrated unsafe work practices on previous films. Hannah Gutierrez fired a gun close to Nicholas Cage without any prior warning. Not surprisingly, the sound gave him a real shock.

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/10/27/entertainment/armorer-rust-set/index.html

And Dave Halls the AD had previously been fired on another film over gun safety issues. A crew member was injured in that incident.

https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-59055138 

So with those two fools being recruited in addition to the fast paced shooting schedule and the availability of live rounds for 'off hours' target practise, all the elements were there for a potentially tragic outcome. it was like an accident waiting to happen.

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