April 27, 2022

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

in court

Rust shooting: Maximum fine for producers who demonstrated ‘plain indifference to employee safety’

The producers of the film Rust, who’s cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was accidentally shot dead on set by actor Alec Baldwin, have been hit with the maximum $136,793 (£105,000) fine.

Halyna Hutchins was killed, and Director Joel Souza injured, on October 21, 2021, as Alec Baldwin rehearsed with what he believed to be a safe gun.

The New Mexico Environment Department said that the film makers showed “plain indifference to recognised hazards associated with use of firearms on set” and issued the maximum $136,793 (£105,000) fine to Rust Movie Productions.

Baldwin, who was also a director on the film, had previously said that he did not pull the trigger, that the replica Colt .45 revolver fired after he cocked it during rehearsals, and that a live bullet “wasn’t even supposed to be on the property”.

Police have released footage from the set, including of the aftermath of the shooting. Santa Fe Sheriff Adan Mendoza also released crime scene photos and witness interviews, including Mr Baldwin’s.

Fatal accidents like that which occurred on the set of Rust are described as being ‘incredibly rare’. However, that doesn’t deter from the fact that, according to research by the Associated Press, more than 150 people have been left with life-altering injuries from accidents occurring on US film sets since 1990.

Safety failings

New Mexico Environment Department Cabinet Secretary James Kenney said: “There were several management failures and more than sufficient evidence to suggest that if standard industry practices were followed, the fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins and the serious injury to Joel Souza would not have occurred.

“Through our investigation, we determined that Rust Productions’ failures were both serious and wilful.”

He added: “The bottom line here is that it was the employers’ obligation to follow national standards, and that did not happen on the set of Rust.”

He said that his thoughts were with the victim and her family and that, whilst no fine can compensate for the loss of life, the agency is holding Rust Productions ‘fully accountable’.

A statement from Rust Movie Productions, given to Reuters news agency, spokesman Stefan Friedman said: “While we appreciate OSHA’s time and effort in its investigation, we disagree with its findings and plan to appeal. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Halyna’s family.”

Alec Baldwin’s lawyer acknowledged that the report exonerated the actor, saying he and the film’s Assistant Director, Dave Halls, believed the weapon contained dummy rounds and that Mr Halls indicated it was unloaded by shouting ‘cold gun’, before handing it to Mr Baldwin.

Film set safety – what needs to be done?

Related Topics

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments