Andres Leighton / AP
Mourners gathered at a vigil Saturday to remember cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was killed in an accidental shooting on the film’s set Rust last week.
Alec Baldwin was given a prop pistol, which he was told was safe before firing it, killing Hutchins, 42, and wounding director Joel Souza. Baldwin collaborates with investigators.
Souza, who has since been released from hospital, told NBC that his thoughts were with Hutchin’s family. “She was kind, lively, incredibly talented, fought for every inch and always pushed me to get better,” Souza said according to the statement.
Hutchins’ husband, Matt, tweeted that the loss was “enormous” and added that “Halyna inspired us all with her passion and vision, and her legacy is too meaningful to encapsulate in words.”
The unintentional shooting was not the first gun death on a film or television set, but it has focused on how firearms can be safely used by the entertainment industry – and also raised the question of whether they should be banned directly.
Experts say there are safe ways to handle weapons on set, but implementation varies
Crew members on the set of Rust allegedly raised security issues around production before the shooting, though it is still unclear how Hutchins was shot.
Although there are ways to simulate shots in TV and movies without using real weapons, some filmmakers continue to use live weapons to make the drama appear more real, according to Dan Leonard, associate dean of Chapman University Film School.
“There are many [filmmakers] now who does not use real weapons and does it all in the mail [production], “Leonard said Weekend edition Sunday. “Then there are filmmakers who want that kind of realism and reaction” created using real weapons.
Even when live weapons are used during productions, Leonard says there are simple safety precautions that can help avoid accidental shootings.
First, there is never any reason why live ammunition is on set.
Also, Leonard says, filmmakers can adjust the angle of certain shots so there are no people in the line of fire. And if a scene requires an actor e.g. Aiming a gun at the camera, the filmmaker could use a stopper gun and a computer-generated flash for that scene.
According to the Associated Press, the states provide scarce guidelines whether the use of real firearms on film sets and security standards is often set by unions. Leonard said there should be an industry-standard security standard for the use of real weapons.
“Right now, it’s kind of left to the industry to the police. The big studios have the budgets and use qualified staff,” he said. “But especially in the field of independent film production, they try to do things in the cheapest way possible, and often not all the procedures put in place for safety have been followed.”
Leonard said it can be disruptive when crew members change, as has been reported Rust after a walk-out of several crew members who were upset by the production conditions.
“But in the case of gun safety … only two people should ever touch the weapon. One is the gunman and the other is the actor,” he added. “And each must double check that it is empty.”
Others say it’s time to ban real weapons from movies and television
Some in the film and television industry said that Hutchin’s death shows that it has long been forbidden to exclude the use of actual firearms on sets.
ABCs police drama Novice prohibited real weapons on set from Friday, according to Hollywood Reporter.
Eric Kripke, showrunner behind Amazon Prime’s The boys, tweeted a promise in response to Hutchin’s shooting: “no more guns with items on any of my sets ever. We use VFX muzzle turn signals. Who’s in?”
Other industry insiders noted that it was possible to move away from real weapons on screen.
“There’s no need to have guns filled with items or anything on the set anymore. Just need to be completely banned. There are computers now,” said Craig Zobel, who instructed Jump from Easttown on HBO, tweeted. “The shots on the Mare of Easttown are all digital. You can probably see, but who cares? It’s an unnecessary risk.”
ONE petition on change.org to ban the use of real weapons in the film industry had received more than 17,000 signatures by Sunday afternoon, and a California senator said he would introduce legislation to ban actual firearms from film sets and theater productions in that state.
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