An aerial view of the set of Rust
In a continued trend of no one shouldering responsibility for the fatal error that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza on the Rust set last October, the production company behind the film has also denied liability in the incident.
A producer with Rust Movie Productions argued on Tuesday the banner isn’t at fault in the shooting because they were an independent contractor and didn’t technically employ anyone on the set, per The Hollywood Reporter. The move is a clear decision to create distance from armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who supervised gun safety on the Rust set It also comes just as the Santa Fe County district attorney’s office prepares whether or not to file criminal charges over the incident.
In their argument, the producer reportedly asserts that Gutierrez-Reed was “singularly responsible for all tasks associated with the use of firearms and ammunition,” such as “ensuring that RMP’s express prohibition against the presence of live ammunition was strictly followed, ensuring that only blanks were used when called for by the script, and that only dummy rounds were used.”
Alec Baldwin has asserted similar thoughts in his own statements, including in a recent interview where he pointed fingers at both Gutierrez Reed and assistant director Dave Halls. Gutierrez-Reed handed Halls the gun before he handed it to Baldwin, who ultimately fired it.
“There are two people who didn’t do what they were supposed to do,” Baldwin said at the time. “I’m not sitting there saying I want them to, you know, go to prison, or I want their lives to be hell. I don’t want that, but I want everybody to know that those are the two people that are responsible for what happened.”
The production company pushed back against any notion that Gutierrez-Reed’s responsibilities were “somehow transferred to other individuals” such as assistant director Dave Halls. Gutierrez-Reed has maintained in legal proceedings that Halls took on ultimate responsibility when she handed him the gun. She has also maintained that she believed she would be called back to the set before the camera rolled to conduct a safety check on the firearm.
An attorney for Gutierrez-Reed shared a statement with THR stating that the armorer had been overworked, and had not been able to assure all of the actors on set were properly trained with firearms.
“Production did not ensure Hannah had appropriate time to train actors. Hannah fought for more training days. She was not given the necessary support to ensure that everyone was properly instructed and trained,” the statement reads. “OSHA performed an exhaustive analysis and investigation and its conclusions that Production had several safety failures are beyond sound.”