ALBUQUERQUE, N.M: The crew was setting up a difficult shot during filming on the New Mexico set of "Rust", and the movie's cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, wasn't quite satisfied.
She turned to Lane Luper, a member of the camera crew, who suggested some adjustments that she found worked perfectly. That kind of collaborative spirit, Luper said at a candlelight vigil on Saturday, was what made Hutchins such a joy to work with.
"Her photography was beautiful, and every day, everybody on the camera team was proud to be there for her, because we were proud of what we were creating – what she was creating," he told the crowd, two days after Hutchins was killed in an accident when actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on set.
Luper said he would have been lucky to work with her again. "And I don't get to. And it sucks," he said, breaking into tears.
While organizers emphasized that the vigil in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was to honor Hutchins' memory, rather than focus on her death, some in the crowd held signs that read "Safety on Set," a reminder that the circumstances surrounding Thursday's shooting remain murky.
Details have emerged suggesting the production was troubled before the accident. Several crew members walked off the set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, south of Santa Fe, just hours before the incident, protesting what they saw as poor working conditions, several media outlets reported.
Last week, Baldwin's stunt double accidentally fired two rounds with a prop firearm after being told it was "cold," an industry term meaning a weapon is not loaded with ammunition, the Los Angeles Times said. At least one employee complained to a production manager about gun safety on set, the newspaper reported, citing unnamed crew members.
The same mistake may have occurred on Thursday, according to court records. An assistant director, Dave Halls, handed Baldwin the prop gun and told him it was a "cold gun", according to an affidavit from the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office.
When Baldwin fired the gun, Hutchins was fatally struck in the chest, according to the sheriff's office.
It is unclear why the gun contained a projectile. The person in charge of weapons on set is known as an armorer. The armorer for "Rust," Hannah Gutierrez, had set up the gun and two others, according to the affidavit.
Halls and Gutierrez could not be reached for comment on Saturday.
Rust Movie Productions said in a statement on Friday it had not been aware of any safety concerns but was investigating the incident.
"Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down," the company said. Baldwin is among the film's producers. (Reuters)
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