Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

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Lemmy Caution
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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#26 Post by Lemmy Caution » Sat Oct 23, 2021 1:51 am

From an AP article:
Chris Burbank, a former police chief in Salt Lake City who has consulted on several TV productions, said firearms for simulations during police trainings or film productions are often made so that they can only be loaded with blanks.
But note the use of the word "often" in there.

It also explains why live rounds might be involved:
“Rust” is set in the 1880s and according to Hall, when period weapons are used “you have to use actual historic period weapons and to check the safety of those weapons I have known live rounds to be fired out of revolvers, certainly, to make sure that they do function in a way that when you put a blank in, it isn’t going to blow up or explode in the actor’s hands.”

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Toland's Mitchell
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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#27 Post by Toland's Mitchell » Sat Oct 23, 2021 3:20 am

As someone who works as a grip, and worked with Halyna Hutchins a few times several years ago, this incident hits very close to home, and I've been following the story for updates all day.
RIP Film wrote:
Fri Oct 22, 2021 10:07 pm
Maybe a simpleton response to this, but how does live ammunition end up on set? I’d like to imagine the blanks are painted pink or something and given proper oversight. Absent of foul play it just seems avoidable.
You're right. It is absolutely avoidable. For those interested:
https://www.csatf.org/wp-content/upload ... REARMS.pdf
https://www.csatf.org/wp-content/upload ... NITION.pdf

So yes, live ammunition is allowed on set. And as I said on page 1, there are several crew members who are supposed to check guns before they are handed to actors/actresses (the armorer, the prop master, the key grip, and the first assistant director). The links above detail when real guns with blanks and live ammo can be used and what the safety protocols are. Every set I've ever worked on with guns present followed these protocols, and nobody was ever hurt. However according to the LA Times article, the people in charge on Rust ignored the safety procedures over and over again. Before yesterday's fatal shooting, there were '3 accidental discharges' yet nobody was fired from their job? Just boggles my mind. As we now know, this production's negligence and disrespect of the crew was running in other aspects too. The crew wasn't getting paid on time. They were forced to commute 100 miles per day in addition to working 12-13 hours shifts. They didn't even hold daily safety meetings despite guns on set. These terrible conditions were primary reasons there was nearly a nationwide strike only 4 days ago, that was averted at the last minute. I'm interested to see if this incident can prompt changes when IATSE and the AMPTP have their next round of negotiations sometime in the next few months.

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Finch
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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#28 Post by Finch » Sat Oct 23, 2021 4:03 pm

Variety on the fallout from the tragedy
Production veterans say the industry needs to work to promote a zero-tolerance approach for anyone who tries to avoid or ignore safety protocols. In the case of firearms, producers also emphasized that so much can be done easily now with inexpensive vfx that there is no excuse for pushing the envelope on safety.

“You can add a muzzle flash so easily now with five minutes of green screen,” the producer said.

Producers also need to deeply understand the gravity of what they are getting into when they go into production, particularly on location. And industry veterans say that safety protocols need to be a point of pride for producers who need to adopt a buck-stops-here attitude on set.

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The Pachyderminator
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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#29 Post by The Pachyderminator » Sat Oct 23, 2021 4:55 pm

Lemmy Caution wrote:
Sat Oct 23, 2021 1:51 am
It also explains why live rounds might be involved:
“Rust” is set in the 1880s and according to Hall, when period weapons are used “you have to use actual historic period weapons and to check the safety of those weapons I have known live rounds to be fired out of revolvers, certainly, to make sure that they do function in a way that when you put a blank in, it isn’t going to blow up or explode in the actor’s hands.”
I still don't understand this. It should be just as easy to make a realistic prop model of a period weapon as a modern one.


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lacritfan
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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#31 Post by lacritfan » Mon Oct 25, 2021 3:47 pm

It's TMZ but looks like the assistant directory is the one who yelled "cold gun"
I can't find the source now but read somewhere else this same AD and others were using live rounds for target practice.

black&huge
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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#32 Post by black&huge » Mon Oct 25, 2021 3:51 pm

The Pachyderminator wrote:
Sat Oct 23, 2021 4:55 pm
I still don't understand this. It should be just as easy to make a realistic prop model of a period weapon as a modern one.
I'm with you here but again there could always be some oddly specific reason why that statement could be true. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

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domino harvey
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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#33 Post by domino harvey » Mon Oct 25, 2021 3:56 pm

lacritfan wrote:
Mon Oct 25, 2021 3:47 pm
I can't find the source now but read somewhere else this same AD and others were using live rounds for target practice.
This spread on Reddit shortly after the incident but no one has been able to back it up with a source. I think some users may have taken a hypothetical explanation and it quickly got Telephone Gamed into something more. It’s certainly plausible, but no evidence for it that I’m aware of as of yet

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Toland's Mitchell
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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#34 Post by Toland's Mitchell » Mon Oct 25, 2021 4:02 pm

The Pachyderminator wrote:
Sat Oct 23, 2021 4:55 pm
Lemmy Caution wrote:
Sat Oct 23, 2021 1:51 am
It also explains why live rounds might be involved:
“Rust” is set in the 1880s and according to Hall, when period weapons are used “you have to use actual historic period weapons and to check the safety of those weapons I have known live rounds to be fired out of revolvers, certainly, to make sure that they do function in a way that when you put a blank in, it isn’t going to blow up or explode in the actor’s hands.”
I still don't understand this. It should be just as easy to make a realistic prop model of a period weapon as a modern one.
Of course, if they can make an animatronic dinosaur, a realistic-looking prop model of a period weapon should be a piece of cake. In addition, surely they can make a real gun that looks like a period gun that can handle blanks that won't explode in someone's hand. On a side note, I think the title of this thread should be changed because it wasn't a prop gun that killed Halyna Hutchins, it was a real gun.

domino's link above addresses the incompetent of Rust's weapons handler, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, a beneficiary of nepotism. This article goes deeper:

'Careless' and 'inexperienced' armorer, 24, on Alec Baldwin Rust set halted filming on last movie - starring Nic Cage - after 'giving gun to child actress, 11, on set'

Apparently Reed didn't know how to properly load blanks, and also apparently once gave a gun to a child actress. The 1AD, Dave Halls, also apparently had a long history of neglecting his job:

Assistant director on 'Rust' was subject of complaints dating back to 2019

Together, these two were a recipe for disaster.
Last edited by Toland's Mitchell on Mon Oct 25, 2021 9:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

black&huge
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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#35 Post by black&huge » Mon Oct 25, 2021 4:09 pm

Toland's Mitchell wrote:
Mon Oct 25, 2021 4:02 pm
On a side note, I think the title of this thread should be changed because it wasn't a prop gun that killed Halyna Hutchins, it was a real gun.
Yes but the context of the actual situation and one for the discussion of this tragedy was that this was carelessly passed off as a prop. Perhaps the only edit should be putting prop in parentheses but that would just make it even more confusing. Thread title is just fine imo

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domino harvey
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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#36 Post by domino harvey » Mon Oct 25, 2021 4:14 pm

Prop in movie or theatre sense doesn’t mean fake, though I think a lot of people assume it means model or facsimile. If anything, it’s a helpful reminder that these are often real weapons being used. But I guess the title could just as easily say “Death by a Gun on Set”… I’ll leave it to the discretion of my fellow mod who split this off

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swo17
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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#37 Post by swo17 » Mon Oct 25, 2021 4:19 pm

I named the thread and my only strong feeling is that it should include the victim's name

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Toland's Mitchell
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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#38 Post by Toland's Mitchell » Mon Oct 25, 2021 4:51 pm

There is a difference between a prop gun and a real gun, and I think that difference is relevant here. Prop guns cannot fire bullets or blanks, therefore I think the title should be changed but it isn't a big deal.

And to lacritfan and domino harvey, here is a source reporting the crew was out shooting targets the day before:

Alec Baldwin's Gun in Rust Shooting Was Used for Target Practice by Crew Members

So that's what they were doing on their day off. I don't have an issue with that, if that's they wanted to do for fun and as long as they did it safely. But again, the responsibility comes back to the armorer/weapons handler. It was Hannah Gutierrez-Reed's duty to remove the real bullets from the guns before they ended up in Baldwin's hands. She failed. As did David Halls, the 1AD who didn't check the gun before giving it to Baldwin.

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domino harvey
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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#39 Post by domino harvey » Mon Oct 25, 2021 5:16 pm

Thanks for the link, Toland’s Mitchell, I appreciate having the source for that. If it is true that she didn’t take the bullets out before okaying/handing off the gun, I wonder if that’s enough for a manslaughter charge for her?

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zedz
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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#40 Post by zedz » Mon Oct 25, 2021 5:57 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Oct 25, 2021 5:16 pm
Thanks for the link, Toland’s Mitchell, I appreciate having the source for that. If it is true that she didn’t take the bullets out before okaying/handing off the gun, I wonder if that’s enough for a manslaughter charge for her?
My law degree is covered in moss from disuse, but - unless the definition of manslaughter is very different in the US - manslaughter means that you intentionally performed the act that killed somebody, but you didn't intend to kill them. If she didn't actually fire the gun, I doubt she could be charged with manslaughter, but criminal negligence seems likely under these circumstances

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domino harvey
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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#41 Post by domino harvey » Mon Oct 25, 2021 6:09 pm

We have a distinction of “involuntary manslaughter” which covers deaths arising from criminal negligence. My law degree comes from watching Law and Order though, so I’ll leave the actual legalities for others, but my layman understanding is that it may be applicable here

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EddieLarkin
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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#42 Post by EddieLarkin » Mon Oct 25, 2021 6:15 pm

If this was in the UK, I imagine she would absolutely be facing a charge of gross negligence manslaughter. Someone in her position would owe a duty of care to all other cast and crew, and obviously it would be considered grossly negligent to fail to take live rounds out of a prop gun.

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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#43 Post by captveg » Mon Oct 25, 2021 6:42 pm

Toland's Mitchell wrote:
Mon Oct 25, 2021 4:51 pm
There is a difference between a prop gun and a real gun, and I think that difference is relevant here. Prop guns cannot fire bullets or blanks, therefore I think the title should be changed but it isn't a big deal.

And to lacritfan and domino harvey, here is a source reporting the crew was out shooting targets the day before:

Alec Baldwin's Gun in Rust Shooting Was Used for Target Practice by Crew Members

So that's what they were doing on their day off. I don't have an issue with that, if that's they wanted to do for fun and as long as they did it safely. But again, the responsibility comes back to the armorer/weapons handler. It was Hannah Gutierrez-Reed's duty to remove the real bullets from the guns before they ended up in Baldwin's hands. She failed. As did David Halls, the 1AD who didn't check the gun before giving it to Baldwin.
This could explain why director Souza reportedly stated that "there should never be live rounds whatsoever, near or around the scene." Seems a terribly moronic thing to have practice target shooting on the side with the guns for a movie shoot, thereby pairing those guns with live ammo during production even in off hours.
Last edited by captveg on Mon Oct 25, 2021 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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furbicide
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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#44 Post by furbicide » Mon Oct 25, 2021 8:07 pm

If what's alleged is true, then Gutierrez-Reed and Halls (and whoever else) should be held accountable for their negligence. But I hope they don't end up entirely taking the fall for the people holding the purse strings on this production, whose corner-cutting and the poor labour conditions they oversaw seem to have been significant factors in what occurred. If you hire an unqualified person and work them and everyone else around them 17 hours a day (as has been claimed), then you absolutely deserve a share of criminal culpability for lethal accidents that occur.

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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#45 Post by pistolwink » Tue Oct 26, 2021 1:21 pm

My students asked me today if Baldwin was culpable for firing the gun that killed Hutchins. I said almost certainly not, since he was told it was "cold." But if he has any liability, moral and/or legal, it's from being a producer on a production that seems to have been saturated in corner-cutting. Though "producer" means many things (sometimes it's just a way for an actor to get "points") and it's not clear how much input he had on hiring or responsibility for the overall running of the production.

Sadly, very seldom in this country does upper management (which is what the producers on this film are equivalent to) suffer any consequences for the decisions they make that lead downstream to suffering and death. If they hired somebody who lacked some basic credential then that could be an actionable form of negligence, but that seems unlikely.

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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#46 Post by jindianajonz » Tue Oct 26, 2021 2:04 pm

EddieLarkin wrote:
Mon Oct 25, 2021 6:15 pm
If this was in the UK, I imagine she would absolutely be facing a charge of gross negligence manslaughter. Someone in her position would owe a duty of care to all other cast and crew, and obviously it would be considered grossly negligent to fail to take live rounds out of a prop gun.
Has it been confirmed that Gutierrez-Reed okayed the gun before use in the scene? I saw some conjecture that Hall may have been in a hurry and grabbed a gun himself without clearing it through her first.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#47 Post by hearthesilence » Tue Oct 26, 2021 2:06 pm

pistolwink wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 1:21 pm
My students asked me today if Baldwin was culpable for firing the gun that killed Hutchins. I said almost certainly not, since he was told it was "cold." But if he has any liability, moral and/or legal, it's from being a producer on a production that seems to have been saturated in corner-cutting. Though "producer" means many things (sometimes it's just a way for an actor to get "points") and it's not clear how much input he had on hiring or responsibility for the overall running of the production.
The Telegraph did an article on this. They got different opinions though:

The Hollywood star could face the charges because of his role as the executive producer of the film, rather than for pulling the trigger, suggested US attorney Joseph Costa.

“As an executive producer, you are in a position of control and you can get prosecuted criminally,” Mr Costa, an attorney with Costa Law in Los Angeles, told the New York Post.

“It’s the equivalent of drinking and driving, meaning someone may not have intended to cause great harm but they do.”

Rebecca Roiphe, of the New York Law School, said Baldwin could be charged with involuntary manslaughter if he failed to exercise the appropriate degree of care.

“But even if a prosecutor determines that he was in some way at fault, these sorts of accidents are not regularly charged criminally," she said.

"A prosecutor would likely look at a number of factors to determine whether it would be appropriate to do so here."

Prosecutors would look at how personally culpable Baldwin was, or whether mistakes were made by a number of people, she said.

“If he was seriously cutting corners, prosecutors may look at it differently,” she added.

Columbia Law School professor James Liebman argued that Baldwin was more at risk for having pulled the trigger than in his capacity as executive producer.

“Manslaughter requires proof that the defendant was actually, subjectively, conscious of a serious risk of the harm that ensued,” he said.

“If Baldwin was told by someone on whom it was reasonable to rely that the gun was safe or unloaded, that should absolve him of liability under either theory.

“If, however, he wasn't so assured, or if he had reason to seriously doubt the reliability of the person who said the gun was safe, then he could be liable under either theory - but the case for his liability as the shooter would be much stronger than the case for it as the producer.”

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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#48 Post by Toland's Mitchell » Tue Oct 26, 2021 2:27 pm

captveg wrote:
Mon Oct 25, 2021 6:42 pm
Seems a terribly moronic thing to have practice target shooting on the side with the guns for a movie shoot, thereby paring those guns with live ammo during production even in off hours.
Yeah, not too bright. I'm no gun expert but sometimes, though rarely, bullets can get stuck in the chamber, and then propelled out by the firing of the next round. That's how Brandon Lee died on the set of The Crow in 1993. Still, that tragedy could have been avoided if the weapons handlers on that set had properly done their job. Flash forward to last week. Indeed it was dumb to go out target practicing with the same guns that were going to used on set, however an experienced, competent armorer probably could have done so in a safe manner. Nevertheless there were several other ways this tragedy could have been avoided.

It is on-set gun safety protocol that if a real gun loaded with blanks is to be fired in the general direction of the camera during a take, then a wall of clear bulletproof plexiglass is installed to protect the camera from getting damaged. If there is no movement of the camera during the take, someone will press the 'record' button and then get the hell out of there before they call "action". However, if there has to be someone operating the camera, for example if the camera pans or tilts during the shot, he or she is provided safety gear in addition to being behind bulletproof plexiglass. Furthermore, even having a gun on set and handing it to actor/actress, real or prop, is a step-by-step process. First there is a brief safety meeting with the entire crew, going over the details of what will happen in the scene. The 1AD calls and runs this meeting. Then the weapon is presented to crew, showing them whether it is real or fake. If it is a real gun, the handler is then supposed to open the magazine or cylinder to show the crew whether it contains blanks, real bullets (which is extremely rare), or nothing at all. Typically, the prop master and key grip will personally inspect it themselves, but any crew member can inspect it if he/she wants. Usually then any unnecessary crew members clear out. Finally, when the handler gives it to the actor/actress, they go through the same steps, showing the actor/actress whether it's real or fake, and if real, whether it is loaded or not.

So here are some ways Thursday's tragedy could have been avoided:

1. The armorer/weapons handler, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, could have properly done her job, ensuring the gun that was to be used by Baldwin on camera was not loaded with a real bullet.

2. The 1AD, Dave Halls, could have called a safety meeting, allowing the crew to take a look at the gun.

3. Halls also could have opened the cylinder of the gun himself and looked to make sure it wasn't loaded before he gave it to Baldwin (Gutierrez-Reed actually should have done this, but she was not present at the time, god only knows why).

4. Baldwin could have asked Halls to open the cylinder so he could have taken a look before he received the gun. This does not pin any blame on Baldwin, because Halls said it was a 'cold gun' and actors trust their crew, but Baldwin still should have known better.

5. The producers could have allowed time for a bulletproof plexiglass barrier to be installed protecting film crew and equipment in the general vicinity of the action.

6. The producers also could have listened to the crew's complaints about the armorer. There was not 1, not 2, but apparently 3 accidental gun discharges on this set that were reported before the 4th one proved fatal. Reed should have been fired right away after the first one.

Thus this tragedy was a perfect storm of negligence and disregard of gun safety protocols, where everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong. And it just infuriates me as someone who works on film sets in a below-the-line position. I only worked with Halyna Hutchins twice, a short film in 2014 and another short film in 2017, so I barely knew her. But it enrages me all the same, because we below-the-line workers consider ourselves as one large extended family. And if it can happen once, it can happen again. And the next time, it can happen to me or a close friend. But hopefully there will never be a next time. It is a bit odd how this tragedy took place less than 4 days after IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees) nearly called the first ever nationwide, industry-wide strike in the history of show-business. And it should come as no surprise that the conditions the workers wanted to see improvements on were some of the very same conditions that were present on the set of Rust. Halyna would still be alive if there had been a strike. Her death is truly unfortunate, but if any good can come from it, it can be a rallying cry to eliminate the unsafe, oppressive conditions that have gone on for far too long.
Last edited by Toland's Mitchell on Tue Oct 26, 2021 2:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

beamish14
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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#49 Post by beamish14 » Tue Oct 26, 2021 2:48 pm

hearthesilence wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 2:06 pm
pistolwink wrote:
Tue Oct 26, 2021 1:21 pm
My students asked me today if Baldwin was culpable for firing the gun that killed Hutchins. I said almost certainly not, since he was told it was "cold." But if he has any liability, moral and/or legal, it's from being a producer on a production that seems to have been saturated in corner-cutting. Though "producer" means many things (sometimes it's just a way for an actor to get "points") and it's not clear how much input he had on hiring or responsibility for the overall running of the production.
The Telegraph did an article on this. They got different opinions though:


“As an executive producer, you are in a position of control and you can get prosecuted criminally,” Mr Costa, an attorney with Costa Law in Los Angeles, told the New York Post.



This reminds me of a quote from William H. Macy, who was asked about former NYC mayor/failed Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg's production work on the Arthur Miller adaptation Focus: "He was a model executive producer. He signed some checks and attended the wrap party."

It's an incredibly stretch to argue that an EP on a film exerts any real control over the day-to-day challenges of managing a set. They give seed money for development and might have a small degree of creative input once a project goes into production, but that's it.

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mfunk9786
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Re: Halyna Hutchins' Death by a Prop Gun

#50 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Oct 26, 2021 3:33 pm

It's likely the film would not have gotten made without Baldwin's EP credit - sometimes it's not an ego move on the part of the star but a practical one to get a movie financed. My guess is that he read the script, liked it, and did what he could to get it made. What happens beyond that is the responsibility of the production company, in which he is not directly involved. An "executive producer" sounds more important and gets more credit than a producer, but the latter are the people calling the shots on budget, etc and unfortunately more culpable in this incident, though I would say the AD and armorer are the only people who sound worthy of charging with a crime where we sit today.

Very tragic and an unfortunate way of being reminded more broadly who has their head screwed on straight and who doesn't.

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