After being questioned about his involvement in filming "Rust," Alec Baldwin spoke on the phone from Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office parking lot. (Jim Weber / The New Mexican via AP).
A half-dozen members of the camera crew walked off the set protesting working conditions hours before Alec Baldwin shot the cinematographer on the New Mexico "Rust" set with a prop gun.
According to three sources familiar with the matter, the conditions surrounding low-budget films were frustrating for both the camera operators and their assistants. They complained of long hours and not getting their paychecks.
According to one crew member, the camera crew arrived at work on Thursday morning as planned and started preparing their personal and equipment for departure.
Aerial view of Bonanza Creek Ranch church, near Santa Fe (N.M.)
On the Bonanza Creek Ranch, near Santa Fe, labor trouble was already brewing for several days.
Filming began Oct. 6, and members of the cast stated that they were promised by the production that Santa Fe would pay for their Santa Fe hotel rooms.
However, filming started and crews were informed that they would have to drive 50 miles from Albuquerque each morning, instead of staying overnight in Santa Fe.
Halyna Hutchins was the cinematographer who was killed accidentally. She had advocated for safer conditions for her crew, according to one crew member.
The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Workers' camera crew spent approximately an hour assembling their equipment at Bonanza Creek Ranch. Several nonunion crew members arrived to replace them, the knowledgeable individual stated.
The producer staff ordered the union members to vacate the set. She stated that if they refused to leave, security would be called in order to have them removed.
The knowledgeable person stated that "Corners were being trimmed and they brought in nonunion workers so they could continue shooting."
According to the person, there were two misfires at the prop gun on Saturday, and one on the previous week. He also stated that there was "a serious shortage of safety meetings" on this set.
Continue the story
Rust Productions and all those associated with Rust Productions place safety first. Rust Movie Productions LLC released a statement. While we weren't made aware of any complaints regarding weapon or prop safety on the set, we will be performing an internal review of our processes while production is stopped. We will continue to work with Santa Fe authorities to investigate and provide mental health services for the cast and crew during this terrible time."
Six hours after the departure of the union camera crew, the shooting began.
According to two people who are well-versed, Baldwin, the film's star, was apparently practicing a scene at Bonzana Creek Ranch outside.
According to production notes obtained from The Times, the scene featured a gunfight that started in the church. Baldwin's character was then supposed to retreat from the church. It was the 12th day in a 21-day shooting.
According to the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, deputies were sent to Bonanza Creek Ranch to film the western Rust. This was after 911 calls at 1:50 pm. Baldwin was the star and one of the producers.
Although no charges have been filed against anyone, the Sheriff's Office stated that detectives continue to interview witnesses.
Baldwin stated Friday that he is fully cooperating in the police investigation into this incident.
Baldwin sent a series tweets Friday expressing her shock and sadness about the tragic accident that claimed the life of Halyna HUTCHINS, a wife and mother, and a deeply admired colleague.
Filming on the low-budget movie has been stopped. It was originally shot in this month.
Local 44 of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees sent an email to its members stating that the shot that injured Joel Souza and killed Hutchins was a single round live.
According to a North Hollywood-based local, Rust was accidentally shot with a weapon. The principal actor accidentally fired a single shot on the set, striking both Halyna Hutchins (Director of Photography), and Joel Souza (Director). According to an email, both were taken to the hospital.
Local 44's source said they don't know the projectile in the gun. They clarified that live is an industry term meaning that a gun has some material, such as a blank, ready for filming.
Bonanza Creek Ranch is a favorite filming spot for over 60 years. The Man From Laramie was the first film to be shot there. It starred Jimmy Stewart. It was also the location for The Blazing Saddles, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, and the TV series Longmire.
This report was written by Wendy Lee, Anousha Suoui, and Richard Winton.
This story first appeared in Los Angeles Times.