Just a few hours before a cinematographer was fatally shot with a prop gun by Alec Baldwin while filming Rust, several camera crew workers walked off the New Mexico set to protest working conditions. The camera operators and their assistants were unhappy with the conditions surrounding the low-budget movie. It is just another twist in this tragic story.
The crew’s complaints included things like long working hours and getting their paychecks on time. The information was revealed by three people familiar with the situation who were not authorized to comment. The camera team arrived for work on the Alec Baldwin film at 6:30 am on Thursday and began gathering up their gear and personal belongings to leave, one knowledgeable crew member told the Los Angeles Times. Problems had been brewing for days on the rustic set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe.
When filming for Rust began on October 6th, members of the production said they had been promised the studio would pay for their hotel rooms in Santa Fe. But after they began work on the Alec Baldwin starrer, the crews were told would have to make the 50-mile drive from Albuquerque each day, rather than stay overnight in Santa Fe.
Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer who was accidentally killed, had been advocating for safer conditions for her team, said one crew member who was on the set. But as members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees assembled their gear at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, several non-union crew members showed up to replace them. And the union members were ordered to leave.
According to an anonymous source, the production brought in non-union people so they could continue working on the Alec Baldwin film. There were two misfires with the prop gun on Saturday and one the previous week, the source said, adding that there was a serious lack of safety meetings on this set.
About six hours after the union camera crew left the fatal shooting occurred. Alec Baldwin, the film’s star who also served as a producer on the project, was rehearsing a scene outside the church of the Bonzana Creek Ranch set. The scene involved a gunfight that began in the church. The actor’s character was supposed to then back out of the church. It was the 12th day of a 21-day shoot.
Alec Baldwin expressed his sadness and regret about the incident in a series of tweets on Friday. He said there are no words to convey his shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins. He added that she was a wife, mother, and deeply admired colleague. Production has been halted on the low-budget movie, which began filming this month.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office said deputies were dispatched to Alec Baldwin’s movie set after calls to 911 were received at 1:50 pm. Alec Baldwin, who was starring in the movie in addition to serving as one of the producers, is fully cooperating with the police investigation into the incident. No charges have been filed, but the Sheriff’s Office said that witnesses continue to be interviewed by detectives.