July 22, 2024

The ‘Rust’ Shooting Spurs a Debate Over Using Guns on Film Sets

The “Rust” shooting happened on Oct. 21, after an old-fashioned revolver was placed in Mr. Baldwin’s hands and proclaimed “cold,” meaning that it should not have contained any live ammunition. But it did: As Mr. Baldwin practiced drawing the gun for a scene, it fired a real bullet, law-enforcement officials said, killing the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, and wounding its director, Joel Souza. There should not have been any live ammunition on the set at all, according to court papers, and law-enforcement officials are investigating how the gun came to be loaded with a lethal bullet.

The backlash to Mr. Baldwin’s proposal to have police officers monitor on-set gun safety included comments from industry veterans like David Simon, the creator of “The Wire,” who tweeted that “the average cop is no more a totem of gun safety than a trained film armorer.”

Then there are those calling to ban the use of functional guns — which are supposed to be loaded only with dummies or blanks — on sets. They say that technology has advanced to the point where special effects can be used to create the illusion of convincing gunfire. After the shooting in New Mexico, Craig Zobel, the director of the HBO whodunit “Mare of Easttown,” noted that all of the gunshots on that show were digital. But some studio executives say that there are times when visual effects are not sufficient, and that some actors struggle to make fake weapons that cannot even fire blanks appear convincing.

The calls for systematic change are complicated by the fact that it is still unclear exactly why the tragedy occurred.

Some crew members voiced concerns about the experience level of the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, whose lawyers have defended her training and commitment to safety and faulted the production. And the film’s first assistant director, Dave Halls, told a detective investigating the case that he should have checked the gun more thoroughly before Mr. Baldwin handled it, according to an affidavit. (His lawyer later said in a television interview that checking the gun was not his job.) But the central question, of how a live round got into the revolver in the first place, remains a mystery.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/09/movies/rust-movie-shooting-gun-debate.html

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