‘Rust’ assistant director’s on-set actions criticized in wake of Alec Baldwin shooting


As more “Rust” crew members continue to detail their concerns with production, one in particular has spoken out against assistant director Dave Halls.

In a lengthy expose about the conditions in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the movie was filming before it halted following the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, a digital utility technician named Jonas Huerta admitted to feeling “anxious” on set because of Halls’ alleged fast-moving pace.

“I also feel anxious on set, I’ve seen firsthand our [assistant director] rush to get shots and he skips over important protocols,” Huerta wrote in his email to the LA Times.

The digital technician went on to claim that there were other instances prior to Alec Baldwin firing the gun that killed Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza that left him feeling uneasy on the Western-genre film set.

‘RUST’ ASSISTANT DIRECTOR DAVE HALLS BREAKS SILENCE FOLLOWING FATAL ON-SET SHOOTING

Alec Baldwin was handed the firearm by assistant director Dave Halls, who believed there was no ammunition loaded, authorities said.

Alec Baldwin was handed the firearm by assistant director Dave Halls, who believed there was no ammunition loaded, authorities said.
(IMDB |  Getty)

Speaking of Halls, Huerta said, “He often rushes to shoot, I’ve had more than a few occasions where I have been close to the weapons being fired with no regards to my hearing. Sometimes he rushes so quickly that props [department] hasn’t even had the chance to bring earplugs and he rolls and the actors fire anyway.”

An attorney for Halls did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment.

Dave Halls was one of four people to handle the gun on Oct. 21, the day of the shooting, law enforcement has said, along with Baldwin, armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and prop master Sarah Zachry.

On Monday, Halls broke his silence on the matter, offering a statement to the New York Post.

“Halyna Hutchins was not just one of the most talented people I’ve worked with, but also a friend,” he said. “I’m shocked and saddened by her death.”

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The filmmaker continued: “It’s my hope that this tragedy prompts the industry to reevaluate its values and practices to ensure no one is harmed through the creative process again.”

This aerial photo shows the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, N.M., Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of a Western being filmed at the ranch on Thursday, Oct. 21, killing the cinematographer, officials said. 

This aerial photo shows the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, N.M., Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of a Western being filmed at the ranch on Thursday, Oct. 21, killing the cinematographer, officials said. 
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong  |  Photo by Fred Hayes/Getty Images for SAGindie)

Halls didn’t provide any details of what he thinks might be reformed or how changes might have helped avoid what happened on the set of “Rust.”

Furthermore, he said that he’s “overwhelmed by the love and support” and added that his “thoughts are with all who knew and loved Halyna.”

Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza said last week there was “some complacency” in how weapons were handled on the set. Investigators found around 500 rounds of ammunition — a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and suspected live rounds — even though the set’s firearms specialist, Gutierrez-Reed, said real ammo should never have been present.

Gutierrez-Reed said through her attorneys that she didn’t know where the live rounds came from and blamed producers for unsafe working conditions.

On Monday, Halls’ attorney Lisa Torraco appeared on “The Story with Martha MacCallum” and first said that Halls “absolutely did not” hand the loaded gun to Baldwin, though later backtracked and dodged questions on the matter.

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When pressed further, the attorney said she has spoken to some crew members who remember Gutierrez-Reed handing the weapon to Baldwin while others recall seeing Halls pass it to the actor directly after being passed the weapon by Gutierrez-Reed himself.

Alec Baldwin discharged a firearm – he was told was ‘cold’ or unloaded – on the set of 'Rust.' 

Alec Baldwin discharged a firearm – he was told was ‘cold’ or unloaded – on the set of ‘Rust.’ 
(Barbara Nitke/Peacock/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

According to a warrant from authorities, Baldwin was handed the firearm by Halls. A warrant stated that Halls handed the gun to Baldwin and declared it “cold,” an industry term meaning that the weapon was not loaded with ammunition, including blanks. Per The Associated Press, citing the application for the search warrant, Halls was unaware live rounds were inside the firearm.

The gun Baldwin used was one of three that Gutierrez-Reed had placed on a cart outside the building where a scene was being rehearsed, according to court records.

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The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department is still investigating the incident and said it was “too early” to comment on potential charges during a press conference Wednesday. However, Sheriff Adan Mendoza has since referred to the department’s efforts as a “criminal investigation.”

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was accidentally shot and killed during a rehearsal of the film ‘Rust.’ Director Joel Souza was also injured but has since been released from the hospital.

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was accidentally shot and killed during a rehearsal of the film ‘Rust.’ Director Joel Souza was also injured but has since been released from the hospital.
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

“I’d be careful using the word ‘accident,'” Mendoza said during an appearance Thursday on “Fox & Friends.”

“This is obviously a tragedy, and it was avoidable, so right now it’s a criminal investigation.”

Fox News’ Nate Day, Lauryn Overhultz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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