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Producers defend safety on Alec Baldwin’s set

The production company of “rust” challenged sanctions by New Mexico officials for alleged security violations on the film’s set, where actor-producer alec baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer in October, according to documents released Wednesday by state regulators.

Rust Movie Productions is challenging the basis for a $137,000 fine imposed on it by state occupational safety regulators, who say production managers on the western’s set did not follow standard industry firearm safety protocols.

On a ranch outside Santa Fe on Oct. 21, 2021, Baldwin was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins inside a small church during rehearsal for a scene when the gun went off, killing Hutchins and wounding the director. Joel Sousa.

Baldwin said in a December interview with abcnews that he was aiming at Hutchins following his instructions when the gun went off without him pulling the trigger.

“The law appropriately allows producers to delegate functions as critical as firearms safety to experts in that field and does not impose such responsibility on producers whose expertise is organizing the financing and contracting of the logistics of filming,” Rust Movie Productions said in the document. The company “did not ‘intentionally’ violate any security protocols and, in fact, enforced all applicable security protocols.”

In April, the New Mexico Office of Occupational Safety and Health imposed the maximum fine against Rust Movie Productions and distributed a scathing narrative of safety lapses, including testimony that production managers took limited or no action to address two safety lapses. blank ammunition on the set before the fatal accident.

The bureau also documented gun safety complaints from crew members that went unaddressed and said weapons specialists were not allowed to make decisions about additional safety training.

Rust Movie Productions responded by saying that the glitches leading up to Hutchins’ fatal shooting did not violate safety protocols and that “appropriate corrective action was taken, including briefings to cast and crew.”

“In fact, a security meeting was held the morning of the incident,” the company said in the document, apparently referring to the Hutchins shooting, without providing further details.

Rust Movie Productions also disputes allegations that set gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez Reed was overworked, stating that she had enough time to properly inspect and protect all weapons and ammunition on set. The producer cites comments from a costume designer that Reed had “plenty of time” to do her job properly.

State investigators say Gutierrez Reed was hired as a gunsmith for only eight days to oversee weapons and training, and was given lighter duties as a prop assistant. When she ran out of her time as a gunsmith, Gutierrez Reed warned a manager and was turned down.

The sheriff investigating the fatal shooting described disorganization and neglect of security measures in the making of the low-budget film. Santa Fe County Sheriff Adam Mendoza said he awaits a forensic analysis of the gun, projectile, fingerprints and more from the FBI and state medical examiners before referring the case to prosecutors to decide whether to press charges. penalties.

The state’s findings and sanctions against Rust Movie Productions have implications for at least five lawsuits that have been filed over the shooting, including one for wrongful death brought by the Hutchins family against Baldwin and the film’s other producers.

The lawsuit on behalf of widower Matt Hutchins and his 9-year-old son alleges a “callous” disregard for complaints about set safety.

The state fines would apply to a film with a budget of about $7 million. Baldwin was assigned a salary of $250,000 dollars as an actor and producer and it is possible that he reinvested some of that money in the production.

Rust Movie Productions says in its document that all staff on set were informed they had the authority to cease activities at any time until security issues were resolved, with shop stewards on site to ensure safety protocols were adhered to. of the film guild.

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