The “Rust” Film Set Shooting, Who’s to Blame?

The “Rust” Film Set Shooting, Who’s to Blame?

On Oct. 21st, Alec Baldwin discharged a round from a prop revolver while shooting his upcoming movie “Rust”, killing one member of the crew and injuring another. How this tragedy happened enrages me. Not only do I believe that this should’ve never happened, but it speaks to the main issues of filming movies in the modern market. 

Alec Baldwin was handed a gun he was told was not loaded to film a scene for “Rust.” When he pulled the trigger, the gun discharged a live round at the crew. This killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza. The question is, why was there a real round on set in the first place? 

While the reason live rounds were even present on set hasn’t been confirmed, many who worked on the set have revealed that the filming had been anything but safe. Many claim that there was a walkout of several staff members in the days preceding the accident due to poor working conditions.

 According to some sources, safety was put by the wayside to film the movie on a tight budget and an even tighter schedule. If this statement is true, then I believe that the tight schedule is to blame for the loss of life on that day. Obviously, the quicker the production, the faster both the investors and the studio get paid. This could have led to corners being cut in the safety department in order to push the film out quicker. In the film business, time is money, because of this, some studios are sacrificing the safety of their crew for quicker production time and lower costs. It shouldn’t need to be said, but I believe that rushing production can only lead to more problems in the long run. 

When it comes to who’s to blame for the entire situation, many point fingers at the production’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed. It was her duty to check the firearm and make sure it was safe to hand off. While it was true that she’s at fault for not checking the pistol before handing it off, I believe that there are more that shoulder the blame for this tragedy. Take Baldwin himself, when you’re holding a firearm for a film shoot that requires you to aim off-screen, you shouldn’t be aiming it at a member of the crew. In my opinion, this was very negligent, but whether Baldwin himself or the director is at fault is uncertain. The industry-standard set of rules essentially say that unless a scene calls for a gun to be aimed at another actor, the firearm should be treated as if it were loaded at all times. The action of pointing the gun at the crew breaks both of those rules, even if the gun was in fact, not loaded. Baldwin has been on sets with firearms several times before and there has been no incident, it’s reasonable to believe that he would be taught on those sets how to properly treat them while filming. 

Furthermore, Baldwin is a producer of the movie, therefore he would likely have authority over some of the safety and staff operations within the production. As a producer, he would have an easier job appealing to the studio’s board of directors to delay the movie or to make changes to the safety of the crew. As a producer he would also have the final say when it comes to the hiring, retaining, and firing of staff. To me, it looks like he had the power to make changes within the production, yet for reasons unknown to us didn’t. 

There was no reason for live rounds to be present on set, and whoever brought those rounds onto the set, holds a substantial burden of blame when it comes to this tragedy. This should be seen as a lesson to all, never, under any circumstances, cut corners when dealing with something as volatile as firearms.