Armorer analyzes ‘Rust’ red flags, hopes for changes in on-set safety

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An image of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who died after being shot by Alec Baldwin on the set of his movie "Rust", is displayed at a vigil in her honour in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S., October 23, 2021. Photo by Kevin Mohatt/Reuters.

It may take months to learn all that went wrong on the set of “Rust,” resulting in the death of 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

But already very troubling information has emerged. The morning of the shooting, half a dozen crew members walked off the set, in part because of safety concerns. The armorer in charge of the weapons was an inexperienced 24-year-old with a questionable track record. The gun that was handed to star and producer Alec Baldwin had misfired before. 

The first assistant director has now told investigators he did not properly check the gun before handing it to Baldwin. 

According to a Santa Fe County sheriff, investigators have recovered what they believe to be the lethal lead projectile and its shell casing. Authorities also reported finding approximately 500 rounds of ammunition — a mix of blanks, dummy bullets and live rounds — from the set. 

Bryan Carpenter didn’t work on “Rust,” but he raises many questions about what happened on the set, based on what we’ve learned so far. Carpenter spent years working in private security and tactical law enforcement before moving into the film business. He’s worked as an armorer  — the person responsible for overseeing weapons — on series including “Queen of the South” and “Cloak & Dagger.” 

Carpenter sees a lot of red flags around the production of “Rust,” but one is the reddest flag of all. 

“The number one is the live round being on set,” Carpenter says. “That never should occur. That would be the worst case scenario — to introduce a live round onto a movie set that’s using firearms. Aside from that, there’s a litany of mistakes.”

Carpenter details the circumstances that contributed to the tragic death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, and shares his hope that this nightmare will push the industry to embrace certification and more standardized training programs for cast and crew members who handle guns on set. 

He also explains how what happened on “Rust” is different from the series of mistakes that led to the 1993 death of Brandon Lee on the set of “The Crow.”

Credits

Guest:

Host:

Kim Masters

Producer:

Kaitlin Parker