James Gunn Blasts Hollywood For Lack Of Safety On Sets

By Annie Banks | 2 weeks ago

james gunn

Tragedy is unpredictable. It doesn’t discriminate against where it will strike next. On Thursday, October 21, 2021, the reports of a shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin’s Western, Rust, had been confirmed to be fatal for cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Her on-set death resulted in reviving the conversation around the importance of on-set safety and elicited emotional reactions from those who actively participate in the film industry. Those such as James Gunn took to openly discuss their fears around a similar incident happening on their own sets.

The prop gun was fired by Baldwin, who was unaware that the gun was live and loaded. It was confirmed that it was he that discharged the weapon after it was given to him, and Hutchins, as well as two other crew members, were rushed to a hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In the wake of the accident, James Gunn issued a Tweet that calls attention to not only his personal fears of an accident similar to what happened on the set of Rust happening during a production of his own, but to how on-set deaths are being discussed. He shifts the blame of the incident to ignoring safety protocols, irresponsibility, improper leadership, and the “set culture” of mindless rushing.

Baldwin responded to the events that had taken place on the set of Rust, and much like James Gunn chose Twitter as his platform to publically speak on the matter. He expressed his shock and sadness around the passing of Hutchins and informed the public that he would participate with the police to investigate how this could have happened.

The tragedy of the prop gun firing has since stirred up emotions around the passing of Brandon Lee’s shocking death, who lost his life in a similar incident while filming The Crow in 1993. Lee was the son of kung fu star Bruce Lee and was killed after an explosive used to simulate gunfire was triggered. It was later revealed that Lee was killed by a .44 caliber.

Lee’s family also utilized Twitter, much like Baldwin and James Gunn, to voice their sentiments over the passing of Rust‘s cinematographer. They sent out their message through Lee’s account and wrote that their hearts go out to Hutchins, as well as Joel Souza, who was injured during the gunfire.

The Rust crew exhibited a walk-off from the set in protest of the safety measures that were being practiced and ultimately allowed the fatal accident to happen. It has been reported that the camera operators and their assistants were unhappy with the conditions that they were asked to work in, as the film is a low-budget production. Complaints targeted long hours of work and not being paid in a timely manner.

The crew also said that there were unfulfilled promises of hotel rooms in Santa Fe being paid for, but then were told that they would have to make the 50-mile commute to Albuquerque on their own each day. Union members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees were replaced by non-union counterparts, and there were two misfires of props, one resulting in Hutchins’ fatality. James Gunn, and those who worked on Rust, have generated a conversation around the mistakes that can happen on set if production is taken too carelessly. Hopefully, the loss of Hutchins can call awareness to the severity of recklessness in the industry.