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Baldwin shooting highlights lack of safety on film sets

By Sophia Qin Nov. 8, 2021


In preparation for a scene in the Western film “Rust,” an alleged cold gun—containing no ammunition—was handed to lead actor Alec Baldwin. Seated on a pew in a small wooden church, Baldwin was cornered by a sheriff and a U.S. Marshal and tasked to shoot his way out. When it came time to rehearse this scene, Baldwin pointed his .45 Long Colt revolver to the camera and cocked the gun. This run-through, though seemingly harmless, resulted in the death of one crew member and the injury of another.

Ellie Kim Art

According to investigators, the gun contained a live round, which shot through the chest of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and lodged into the shoulder of the movie’s director Joel Souza. Since real ammunition is only loaded in the gun after the approval of the assistant director, the misfiring raised concerns regarding firearm safety and the treatment of cast and crew on movie sets.


Typically, productions use blank rounds with fake firearms, which can still be dangerous if fired too close to another person, CNBC states. The Baldwin accident, however, was another matter. In reference to a rising national labor battle over treatment of workers in the film industry, the New York Times reports that tensions on the set increased. The day before the shooting, six crew members sent in resignation letters citing the lack of organization within the set and the lack of experience of the armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. Despite the criticism against her, Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyers argue that the set became unsafe due to several factors, including the lack of safety meetings.

Ellie Kim Art


Though the incident sparked national attention, it is not a new occurrence for the film industry. Several past incidents have placed crew and cast members at risk—an Associated Press investigation from 2016 totals 43 deaths occurring on production sets between 1990 and 2016. During the 1993 filming of “The Crow,” actor Brandon Lee was shot and killed with a gun that supposedly held blank cartridges. Meanwhile, in 2015, Olivia Jackson was injured from colliding with camera equipment while performing as a stuntwoman in “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter,” leaving her with a half-amputated left arm, several torn nerves in the spinal cord and disfiguration. Jackson took to social media to protest the film production’s prioritization of profit over the safety of crew members.

In response to the Baldwin shooting, celebrities such as Dwayne Johnson, who has experience filming with firearms, introduced reforms regarding false firearms. In an interview with Variety, Johnson describes his plan to use rubber guns with any studio he works with going forward, in order to prevent accidents similar to the “Rust” occurrence.

Ellie Kim Art

“Despite the gravity of the incident, it is good that actresses and actors are advocating for gun safety during filmings. I believe this is the right step towards general safety on set,” Sophomore Sarah Sun said.


Though investigations have failed to determine a source of the live rounds, this incident seems to originate from a lack of accountability within the “Rust” production team. As they endanger cast and crew members, such occurrences have received an increasing amount of news coverage, raising awareness about safety and security within the film industry.

 

About the Contributors

Sophia Qin

Staff Writer


Sophia Qin is a freshman at Leland High School and a staff writer for The Charger Account. During her free time, she loves dancing, baking, reading, hanging out with friends and family, and drawing.

Screen reader support enabled.








Ellie Kim

Artist


Ellie Kim is currently a junior at Leland High School and is an artist for The Charger Account. Her hobbies include reading, drawing, and spending time with friends.

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