A film production company is appealing sanctions imposed by New Mexico officials over alleged workplace safety violations on the set of the movie “Rust,” in which actor and producer Alec Baldwin killed a cinematographer in October, according to files released by state regulators Wednesday.
Rust Movie Productions is challenging the basis of a $137,000 fine against the company by state occupational safety regulators who say production managers at the Western movie set failed to follow industry standard protocols for gun safety.
On a farm on the outskirts of Santa Fe on October 21, 2021, Baldwin was pointing his gun at cinematographer Helena Hutchins inside a chapel while preparing to shoot a scene when it exploded, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Sousa.
Baldwin said in an interview with ABC News in December that he was pointing the gun at Hutchins on her instructions when it went off without pulling the trigger.
“The law properly permits producers to delegate important functions such as firearm safety to experts in the field and does not place such responsibility on producers whose expertise is in arranging financing and contracting for the logistics of filming,” Rust Movie Productions said in its filing. The company did not “intentionally” violate any security protocol, and in fact enforced all applicable security protocols.
In April, the New Mexico Office of Occupational Health and Safety imposed the maximum fine against Rust Movie Productions and circulated a scathing account of safety failures, including testimony that production managers took limited or no action to address two of the empty ordnance defects on the set before The fatal accident occurred. shooting.
The bureau also documented gun safety complaints from crew members that went unheeded and said gun specialists are not allowed to make decisions about additional safety training.
Rust Movie Productions responded in its filing that the disruptions prior to the fatal shooting of Hutchins did not violate safety protocols and that “appropriate corrective actions were taken, including briefings for the cast and crew.”
“Indeed, a safety meeting was held on the morning of the incident,” the company said, apparently referring to the shooting of Hutchins. Deposit No further details.
Rust Movie Productions is also challenging allegations that film set maker Hana Gutierrez Reid was overburdened, asserting that she had enough time to properly inspect and protect all firearms and ammunition. The production company cites comments by a stylist who said Reed had “plenty of time” to do her job properly.
State investigators say Gutierrez Reid was limited to eight paid days as an armor maker to oversee weapons and training, and was tasked with lighter duties as a props assistant. With the time spent on the gunsmith running out, Gutierrez warned Reed the director and was dismissed.
The mayor investigating the fatal shooting on the set of the film described a disorganization and neglect of safety measures in the making of the low-budget film. Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said he is awaiting forensic analysis of the weapon, projectile, fingerprints and more from the FBI and state medical examiners before referring the case to prosecutors to decide whether to press criminal charges.
The state’s findings and sanctions against Rust Movie Productions have implications for at least five lawsuits filed over the shooting, including the Hutchins’ wrongful death suit against Baldwin and other film producers.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of widower Matt Hutchins and his 9-year-old son, alleges “cruel” disregard in the face of safety complaints on the set.
State fines will be imposed on a film with a budget of about $7 million. Baldwin earned a salary of $250,000 as an actor and producer and may have put some of that money back into production.
Rust Movie Productions says in its filing that all employees on set were instructed that they had the authority to halt activities at any time until safety concerns were resolved, with Film Syndicate agents on site to ensure compliance with union safety protocols.