ANALYSIS – While we should all wait to assign fault in the on-set fatal shooting by Alec Baldwin of crew member until the investigation is complete, various issues have already come to light.
First, why was there a live round in a “prop” gun? I personally can’t see any reason for there to ever be live rounds on a movie set.
The tragic incident occurred when a prop gun (an old-style revolver) thought to have been ‘laid out’ by the armorer reportedly misfired. But the gun handed to the actor by an assistant director was loaded with a live round, according to a warrant from the ongoing police investigation.
Other than fake prop guns, most other real guns used on movie sets are modified to fire only blanks with some sort of internal restrictor like the blank firing adapters (BFAs) used externally by the military. The restrictor used in movies is inside the barrel, so it isn’t seen.
Though even with blanks and restrictors debris can get caught in the barrel, or the blast itself can cause injury if too close. And there is always the possibility of a faulty weapon or ammunition.
However, the assistant director was not aware that the gun was loaded since it was one of three laid on a cart by the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. Being placed on the cart supposedly meant they were “cold” or unloaded. (i.e.: safe).
The revolver’s discharge – or misfire – killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and also injured director Joel Souza.
Significantly, the set’s armorer was described as being “inexperienced and green” by a Rust production source.
One source told The Daily Beast: “She was a bit careless with the guns, waving it around every now and again.” Gutierrez-Reed, a 24-year-old former model, is the daughter of an experienced armorer who reportedly prepared her for the job.
Her dad is a former Marine who was Brad Pitt’s gun coach on “The Assassination of Jesse James.
The prop master who supervised Gutierrez-Reed on “The Old Way” with Nicolas Cage insisted that he was “stymied” by the possibility she could be involved in last week’s fatal shooting.
“I’m surprised that any of this happened under her watch,” Jeffrey Crow told the Los Angeles Times.
“I thought she was an exceptionally young, up-and-coming, very eager and talented armorer.
However, the source, who worked alongside Hannah Gutierrez-Reed on another recent film, added that: “There were a couple times she was loading the blanks and doing it in a fashion that we thought was unsafe.”
Sources say that there were at least two previous incidents of guns being unsafely discharged by other crew members before the final incident on Thursday.
Hannah previously told a podcast that she almost didn’t take the job, her first as head armorer, because she wasn’t sure if she was “ready” for it.
On the podcast last month, she discussed working on The Old Way movie, saying: “It was a really bada** way to start off a really long and cool career, I’m hoping. I just finished up working on The Old Way with Nicolas Cage, his very first Western.”
She added: “It was also my first time being head armorer as well. You know, I was really nervous about it at first, and I almost didn’t take the job because I wasn’t sure if I was ready, but, doing it, like, it went really smoothly.”
Hannah also spoke of her dad who helped to train her as an armorer: “He took me from being completely green and taught me everything I know so far and by all means, I am still learning. Dad has taught me everything but a lot of things I just kind of caught on by myself through observation, watching him do things or just knowing how the firearms work.”
“I think loading blanks was the scariest thing to me because I was like “oh I don’t know anything about it.”
Was this the issue or was there something else, like faulty blank ammunition or a live round in the revolver? Or did she simply not check the gun properly before it was ‘laid out?’ Or was there something else?
Lots of unanswered questions remain. Hopefully the investigation will illuminate. ADN