Hollywood News

‘Rust’ Misfire: Producers Challenge New Mexico Safety Bureau’s Report

The producers of Rust have challenged the report of the New Mexico Environment Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (OHSB), which stated that the film’s crew “willfully violated” safety norms and regulations, leading to the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.


Rust Movie Productions LLC noted, in an appeal filed on Tuesday, that the safety bureau mistook a device that was used to generate fake smoke for a fire extinguisher. “The attempt to extend the application of a fire extinguisher regulation to a special effects device shows their misunderstanding of the film industry,” read the notice.

Hutchins died on October 21, 2021 due to a prop gun misfire when actor Alec Baldwin was rehearsing with the firearm on the sets of the film, in New Mexico.

Since then, Baldwin, assistant director Dave Halls and armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed have been under investigation by the authorities. Multiple lawsuits have also been filed against Baldwin and the other producers for negligence and unlawful conduct.

In April, the OHSB published a report stating that the management team was aware that gun safety procedures were not being followed on the film’s sets, and had failed to rectify it. Thus, the production was fined nearly $137,000, the maximum amount allowed as per New Mexico laws.

In their recent filing appealing that report, the film’s producers have claimed that safety protocols were followed on set, including during the three alleged incidents of misfire. “The first was not a misfire at all and did not involve a firearm – it was a harmless noise from a special effects ‘popper.’ The other two involved discharges of blank rounds. Contrary to NMED’s statements, none of the ‘misfires’ violated firearm safety protocols on the set and appropriate corrective actions were taken, including safety briefings of cast and crew.”

They also stated that the cast and crew of the film received safety trainings, and claimed that one such meeting even took place on the day Hutchins was killed.


The producers further challenged the bureau’s report, which had noted that Gutierrez-Reed was tasked with other unrelated duties causing her to be distracted from her role as armourer and leading to the fatal shooting. They claimed that the 24-year-old had sufficient time on her hands to check the weapons, and was told that her duties as an armourer “always took precedence over any responsibilities related to props.”

It is to be noted that Gutierrez-Reed earlier told investigating officers that while she had cleaned the gun and was able to load it, she “didn’t really check it too much” before loading the final bullet because the gun had been locked up during lunch.

Rust Movie Productions also emphasised that the law permitted the producers to delegate “such critical functions as firearm safety to experts in that field and does not place such responsibility on producers, whose expertise laid in arranging finances and contracts for the logistics of filming.”