'He Is In Every Way Responsible': Rust AD Had History Of Being 'Flippant' About On-Set SafetyOctober 25, 2021
The floodgates have opened for insider info on the tragic Rust shooting.
As we’ve been reporting, certain names have emerged regarding who’s to blame for the on-set accident that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza. While star (and executive producer) Alec Baldwin was the one wielding the prop gun, fingers are now pointing towards first assistant director Dave Halls as the person who handed off the loaded weapon.
Now, a film crew member who worked with Halls “on two similarly low-budget sets in Los Angeles in spring 2019” shared details with DailyMail.com that reveal a pattern of behavior from the AD in which he failed to prioritize safety, or worse, disregarded it entirely. The anonymous source, who claimed revolvers, Glocks, and shotguns were used on his previous projects with Halls, explained:
“He was very flippant about my insistence on having a safety meeting about the weapons, on both of the sets. He would rush through it and say, alright guys, be safe, let’s get to work.”
The insider continued:
“Even though the guns were not loaded, you have to treat it as if it always is. And for me that means doing a safety meeting that may be seen as unnecessary but should absolutely be done so that everyone is on the same page.”
As to why Halls would be so negligent about safety protocols that are industry standard, the 10-year film veteran said:
“Systemically, so much pressure is put on the first assistant directors to meet a schedule, to ‘make the day,’ meaning to get all the work done that you already have scheduled for the day. When it comes to safety on set, or having to wait for anything, because safety takes time, I have seen 1st ADs get annoyed for having to wait. But they ultimately understand it needs to be done. But when I worked with him, it was the only time I’ve had any AD ask me, ‘Do we really need to have a safety meeting?’”
There are a number of procedures followed for on-set gun safety, per DailyMail.com: no live bullets, no pointing guns at other people, and having the armorer “shine a flashlight down the barrel” to make sure there are no blockages or projectiles, to name a few. (Even if a gun is loaded with blanks, it can still fire out a projectile in the barrel.) The source added:
“When you fire, no projectile is supposed to come out, though it still could be dangerous. That’s where there are rules. You don’t aim it at anybody at any time.”
And though Halls reportedly gave the actor the gun shortly before the fatal accident, this crew member insisted the first AD was never supposed to be touching a weapon at all:
“His job is to check the guns, visually, check them with the actor and with the steward on set who is the property person or the armorer. … The chain of custody for the gun should only be between the armorer, the property person and the actor directly handling it.”
A newly released affidavit revealed that the director was unsure whether the crew present that day were checked for ammunition. Of course, according to this insider, there shouldn’t have been any live ammunition on set, and Halls certainly shouldn’t have announced “cold gun” without having actually checked if that was true. The source elaborated:
“That’s what makes me feel he is in every way responsible. … First of all, he was never supposed to handle that prop. Then he declared it a cold gun. It literally takes just a few seconds to check the gun to make sure it’s safe. He had no idea if it was a cold gun, so why make that announcement? If it weren’t for the actions he took in those few seconds, I believe Halyna would still be alive.”
Pyrotechnician Maggie Goll previously opened up about her negative experience with Halls on a separate 2019 project. Speaking with DailyMail.com, she added:
“The Prop Master frequently admonished Dave for dismissing the talent without returning props, weapon included, or failing to make safety announcements.”
Maggie even apparently “filed multiple complaints with a safety line and tried to contact the Directors Guild of America,” but “nothing was done”:
“That was the last I saw of Dave and that AP. That is, until I saw Dave’s name pop up in relation to the accident on the set of Rust. I am gutted at not pushing harder for greater accountability and safety. … Many of us have messaged each other wondering the same thing: is there something we could have done then that would have prevented the tragedy in New Mexico yesterday? It is a horrible feeling.”
We’re sure there’s a lot more information about the unsafe conditions that led to the Rust tragedy that will be coming to light soon enough.
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