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.