Assistant Director Who Worked With Baldwin on Rust Was Fired From Film in 2019 Over Gun Incident

Revolver - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.10.2021
On 21 October, Alec Baldwin shot dead cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza with a prop gun during the filming of the upcoming western "Rust". The firearm was supposed to contain blank cartridges.
Assistant director Dave Halls, who worked with Alec Baldwin on the movie "Rust" was fired from a film in 2019 over a gun incident, CNN reported, citing the movie’s production company. According to the outlet, the incident occurred in New Mexico during the filming of Freedom’s Path. Halls was removed from the set after a prop gun discharged and injured a crew member.

The individual was evaluated by an on-set medic and was advised to seek medical treatment, Rocket Soul Studios said.

"Upon wrapping production for the day, Dave Halls was officially terminated and given the specific reasons for his termination. Dave was very remorseful for the events, and understood the reasons he was being terminated. A new assistant director as well as a new armorer were hired for the duration of principal photography. Production of the film finished successfully", the company said.

Complaints against Dave Halls have been made in the past. Maggie Goll, a prop maker and licensed pyrotechnician, told CNN that she filed a complaint with the executive producers of the "Into the Dark" horror film over Halls' conduct. She claims he didn’t hold safety meetings and failed to announce the presence of a firearm on the film set.

"The only reason the crew was made aware of a weapon's presence was because the assistant prop master demanded Dave acknowledge and announce the situation each day", the complaint read.

Ms Goll also told CNN that when another pyrotechnician lost consciousness on the set, Halls asked her to continue with the shoot. In another instance, Halls insisted on continuing filming a scene while a storm hit, despite the fact that wires were exposed to the rain and electrical lights were touching mud, Goll claimed.

Another crew member of "Into the Dark" corroborated her statements, noting that Halls did hold safety meetings, but they were short and the assistant director himself had a dismissive attitude towards safety.

Affidavit and Accusations of Negligence

An affidavit released on Sunday shed more light on the tragic incident that occurred on 21 October. According to the document, assistant director Dave Halls was the person who gave Alec Baldwin the revolver that went off as the actor was rehearsing a scene, during which he was supposed to draw the firearm from a holster and point it at the camera. The bullet hit cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in the chest and also injured director Joel Souza.

Souza said that Halls shouted "cold gun" after bringing the revolver to the set, an announcement used in the film industry to indicate that the weapon is safe and unloaded.

The affidavit states that armourer Hannah Guttierez-Reed had left three prop guns on a cart outside the film set, from which he chose one and gave it to Baldwin.

Reports say that weeks before the tragedy occurred, some crew members used prop guns to practice shooting and used real bullets while doing this. At one point, a prop gun fired two rounds during the filming

Serge Svetnoy, the chief electrician as well as a friend of Halyna Hutchins who stood next to her when the incident occurred, said the tragedy was the result of negligence and unprofessionalism, hinting that producers were cutting corners by hiring people "who are not fully qualified for the complicated and dangerous job".

“Dear Producers, by hiring professionals, you are buying peace of mind for yourself and the people around you. It is true that the professionals can cost a little more and sometimes can be a little bit more demanding, but it is worth it. No saved penny is worth the LIFE of the person!" Svetnoy wrote in an emotional post on Facebook.

The Los Angeles Times writes that hours before the tragedy occurred, six crew members left the film set in protest against poor working conditions and safety concerns, including gun safety.
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