It turns out that Alec Baldwin’s movie set wasn’t being run very well, as they had unionized camera operators walking off the set to protest working conditions and being replaced with non-union workers just hours before the tragic accident that led to the death of one cinematographer:
LA TIMES – Hours before actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer on the New Mexico set of “Rust” with a prop gun, a half-dozen camera crew workers walked off the set to protest working conditions.
The camera operators and their assistants were frustrated by the conditions surrounding the low-budget film, including complaints of long hours and pay, according to three people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to comment.
The camera crew showed up for work as expected at 6:30 a.m. Thursday and began gathering up their gear and personal belongings to leave, one knowledgeable crew member told the Los Angeles Times.
Labor trouble had been brewing for days on the dusty set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe.
Shooting began on Oct. 6 and members of the production said they had been promised the production would pay for their hotel rooms in Santa Fe.
But after filming began, the crews were told they instead would be required to make the 50-mile drive from Albuquerque each day, rather than stay overnight in nearby Santa Fe.
The cinematographer who was accidentally killed, Halyna Hutchins, had been advocating for safer conditions for her team, said one crew member who was on the set.
As the camera crew — members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees — spent about an hour assembling their gear at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, several nonunion crew members showed up to replace them, the knowledgeable person said.
A member of the producer staff then ordered the union members to leave the set. She said if they didn’t leave, the producers would call security to remove them.
Even worse, it’s being reported they had three prop gun misfires in the last week or so, suggesting safety on the set was also not good:
“Corners were being cut — and they brought in nonunion people so they could continue shooting,” the knowledgeable person said.
There were two misfires on the prop gun on Saturday and one the previous week, the person said, adding “there was a serious lack of safety meetings on this set.”
A representative for the production company did not immediately comment.
“The entire cast and crew has been absolutely devastated by today’s tragedy, and we send our deepest condolences to Halyna’s family and loved ones,” the spokesperson for Rust Movie Productions said in a statement Thursday.
The shooting occurred about six hours after the union camera crew left.
Baldwin, the film’s star who also served as a producer on the film, was apparently rehearsing a scene outside the church of the Bonzana Creek Ranch set, according to two knowledgeable people.
The scene involved a gun fight that began in the church, and then Baldwin’s character was supposed to back out of the church, according to production notes obtained by The Times. It was the 12th day of a 21-day shoot.
It could very well be that the 12th day of the shoot is the last day of the shoot. Misfires are one thing but someone being killed is another.
It’s really starting to look less like an accident and more like negligence. The question remains, what was a live round doing on the set?