The assistant director and the armorer on the Rust film set have come under scrutiny in the days following the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins after Alec Baldwin discharged a prop gun with live rounds.
CNN reports that assistant director Dave Halls — who handed Baldwin the prop firearm and declared it was a “cold gun,” or a firearm without live rounds, prior to filming the scene — received complaints on a prior film set for what was considered a disregard of safety protocols.
“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,” propmaster and pyrotechnician Maggie Goll, who worked with Halls on the set of the Hulu series Into the Dark, said in a statement.
Halls was also “dismissive” of safety meetings and demanding that Into the Dark continue filming despite unsafe conditions, including during a storm as well as after a a licensed pyrotechnician had a medical emergency.
“I told him they are free to film whatever they want, but that there would be no fire or sparks, etc., until the medic, fire safety officer, and all of my crewmates were safely back on set,” Goll told CNN.
Rust script supervisor Mamie Mitchell also blamed Halls in the immediate aftermath for the on-set incident in a recorded phone call to 911. “This fucking [assistant director] that yelled at me at lunch – asking about revisions, this motherfucker – he’s supposed to check the guns, he’s responsible for what happens on the set,” Mitchell said in the call. “We were rehearsing and it went off and I ran out, we all ran out.”
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who worked as lead armorer on only one other film — The Old Way — before Rust, also caused concern on that film set; Gutierrez-Reed is cited in the affidavit as the armorer on set when Baldwin was handed the prop firearm.
“She was a bit careless with the guns, waving it around every now and again,” a source who worked on The Old Way told The Daily Beast. “There were a couple times she was loading the blanks and doing it in a fashion that we thought was unsafe.”
In one incident, Gutierrez-Reed — the daughter of longtime Hollywood armorer Thell Reed — loaded a prop firearm on the pebble-filled ground and then handed it to an 11-year-old actress without checking to make sure if there was barrel obstruction.
“She was reloading the gun on the ground, where there were pebbles and stuff,” the source added. “We didn’t see her check it, we didn’t know if something got in the barrel or not.”
Neither Halls nor Gutierrez-Reed have publicly commented since the Rust incident Thursday left Hutchins dead and director Joel Souza injured. The Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office continue to investigate the incident, with no charges filed as yet.