Producers scold ‘Rust’ gunsmith days before fatal shooting

A week before Alec Baldwin killed ‘Rust’ cinematographer, the film’s 24-year-old gunsmith was reprimanded for leaving guns unattended on set and for not juggling enough with two prominent roles, according to emails.

The gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, had been hired to do two jobs on the low-budget western: the gunsmith in charge of weapons and gun safety, and also an assistant to the prop master, who was in load of props used to simulate 1880s Kansas on film set south of Santa Fe, NM

On October 14, the film’s executive producer, Gabrielle Pickle, chastised Gutierrez Reed in an email reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, saying the production office had received complaints that two shotguns had been left unattended. on the tray. Pickle also faulted Gutierrez Reed for not doing enough to support the film’s prop master, Sarah Zachry.

“We hired you as both Armor and Key Assistant Props,” Pickle wrote in the Oct. 14 email, according to a copy shared with The Times. “It has come to my attention that you are focusing much more on armor and not supporting accessories as needed.”

Gutierrez Reed protested the demand that she devote more time to her prop role, saying she had to be careful about gun safety.

“Since we started, I’ve had plenty of days where my job should only be to focus on guns and everyone’s safety,” Gutierrez Reed wrote, noting that gun-intensive days during filming, the role of props assistant “must take a back seat. Real firearms on set are absolutely my priority.

“When I have to do both [jobs]this is when mistakes are made,” Gutierrez Reed wrote.

Other emails seen by The Times also showed producers trying to ensure safety protocols were followed when a child actor used firearms during filming.

A spokesperson for Third Shift Media, Pickle’s employer, declined to comment Friday night. A spokesperson for Rust Movie Productions also declined to comment. Pickle could not be reached for comment.

The email exchanges highlighted tensions and security issues at Bonanza Creek Ranch in the days leading up to Oct. 21, when Baldwin accidentally shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who died later in the aftermath. noon, and director Joel Souza, who survived.

The fatal shooting has become a rallying cry in the film industry for safer sets.

According to law enforcement documents, during a rehearsal, the film’s assistant director, Dave Halls, handed Baldwin a replica of a vintage Colt .45 pistol, pronouncing it “cold,” meaning that there was no ammunition inside. But the weapon contained dummy cartridges and at least one lead bullet.

Gutierrez Reed, according to affidavits filed by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, had loaded the guns that day, but told sheriff’s detectives she hadn’t realized any real bullets were there. contained in a new ammo box that arrived on the set that day. .

Gutierrez Reed told sheriff’s detectives that although she checked Baldwin’s gun that day before the unscheduled rehearsal, she “didn’t really check it too much” because the gun had been locked in a safe during a lunch break.

She also complained to deputies that she was stretched too thin in her prop role and was unaware that a rehearsal was taking place.

Santa Fe County authorities did not say where the live ammunition came from. Law enforcement officials have previously said their investigation is focused on the actions of Gutierrez Reed, Halls and Baldwin.

The October 14 exchange with Pickle, who was the producers’ contact in charge of day-to-day production, highlights how the young women in the props department, with limited experience, were struggling to keep up with the the production of the movie.

Other emails shared with The Times showed a second email conversation on October 14.

In this exchange, second assistant director Tim Barrera asked Gutierrez Reed to explain what ammunition was used. He wanted to know the decibel level of the shots so the crew could determine if any of the child actors would need to wear hearing protection during practices and filming scenes. The assistant director also asked if Gutierrez Reed was present when the child actor used his gun and if any misfires occurred.

“Are you checking the barrel? Barrera asked.

“Yes, as a gunsmith my job is to be present when all the actors are shooting,” Gutierrez Reed wrote in the Oct. 14 post. “No misses happened on any of my sets. I always check the barrels, rip Brandon Lee.

Barrera declined to comment.

Brandon Lee, son of the late kung fu star Bruce Lee, died on the set of ‘The Crow’ in 1993 after a prop gun discharged live ammunition.

On the morning of the fatal shooting, several members of the film crew left the set, protesting the lack of housing in Santa Fe, a rushed filming schedule and two accidental discharges the weekend before the tragedy. Most of the film crew live in Albuquerque, about 50 miles from the ranch, which has long served as a popular filming location.

The email exchange between Pickle and Gutierrez Reed was first mentioned in a podcast, “America’s Untold Stories.”

Several crew members, including gaffer Serge Svetnoy, complained about the lack of gun safety in the days before the fatal crash, when Baldwin pointed the gun at Hutchins during rehearsal for a scene in an old wooden church. Hutchins was setting up a scene in which the camera lens was staring down the barrel of the gun.

“The trigger was not pulled. I didn’t pull the trigger,” Baldwin said during an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “I would never point a gun at someone and pull the trigger.”

A veteran prop master previously told The Times that he turned down offers to join the film crew, in part because he was concerned about the producers’ insistence on combining two important jobs – gunsmith and prop assistant – in saying “it’s an accident waiting to happen”. ”

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