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‘Rust’ Gaffer: My Friend Lay Dying in My Arms After Filmmakers Put Profit Over People

·3-min read
Sam Wasson
Sam Wasson

The chief electrician on the set of the Alec Baldwin movie Rust said he blames the producers and a young armorer for the accidental shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who bled in his arms.

In a blistering Facebook post, gaffer Serge Svetnoy accused movie bosses of putting savings above safety on the western being shot in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

He said he was “standing shoulder-to-shoulder” with Hutchins when Baldwin fired what he believed was a “cold gun”—one that does not contain live ammunition—at the 42-year-old director of photography.

“I was holding her in my arms while she was dying. Her blood was on my hands,” Svetnoy said.

Svetnoy, who said he had worked on numerous movies with Hutchins and considered her a friend, wrote that he was posting on Facebook to “tell my opinion on why this has happened.”

“It’s the fault of negligence and unprofessionalism,” he said. “The negligence from the person who was supposed to check the weapon on the site did not do this; the person who had to announce that the loaded gun was on the site did not do this; the person who should have checked this weapon before bringing it to the set did not do it. And the DEATH OF THE HUMAN IS THE RESULT!”

Police have identified the armorer on the Rust set as Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, 24, who was described by a production source as being “green and inexperienced.” Sources from a previous movie, The Old Way, told The Daily Beast that Gutierrez-Reed alarmed them by handing a gun that had not been properly checked to a child actress.

Additionally, Gutierrez-Reed—who has not commented publicly on Hutchins’ death—had told a podcast that she almost didn’t take the job as armored on The Old Way because “I wasn’t sure if I was ready.”

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Svetnoy said an armorer with that little experience should never have been in charge of the weapons on Rust.

“I’m calling out to the Producers!” he wrote. “We have a fascinating and amazing job, but it's also dangerous. We film in the mountains, in the open water, underwater. We have explosions, shooting guns, car crashes, electricity after all, and much more.

“To save a dime sometimes, you hire people who are not fully qualified for the complicated and dangerous job, and you risk the lives of the other people who are close and your lives as well. I understand that you always fight for the budget, but you cannot allow this to happen. There should always be at least one professional in each department who knows the job.”

He continued, “It is true that the professionals can cost a little more and sometimes can be a little bit more demanding, but it is worth it. No saved penny is worth the LIFE of the person!”

The producers announced this week that they are shutting down the production while police investigate and while they conduct an internal review.

“We are limited in our ability to say anything further publicly or privately” until those are complete, they said in an email to crew and cast, according to Variety.

The shooting has also brought scrutiny to assistant director David Halls, who handed the gun to Baldwin and was in charge of overall safety on the set.

CNN reported Monday that Halls was fired from the film Freedom’s Path in 2019. when there was a gun mishap on set.

“Dave was very remorseful for the events, and understood the reasons he was being terminated,” Rocket Soul Studios said in a statement to CNN. “A new assistant director as well as a new armorer were hired for the duration of principal photography. Production of the film finished successfully.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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