The team behind Rust is wrapping production on the movie until police investigations into the fatal on-set shooting incident involving star and producer Alec Baldwin, that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza, are complete, and have not ruled out restarting production at a later date.
“As we go through this crisis, we have made the decision to wrap the set at least until the investigations are complete,” the producers said in a letter sent to crew Sunday that was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. Later in the letter, the producers say the wrap announcement was a “pause rather than an end” to the production, although no greater detail was provided on the project’s future.
The letter began with the producers mourning the loss of Hutchins and said they were in close contact with her family. They also said that Souza is recovering and that they are “supporting him however we can knowing just how difficult his journey is.”
The production team also revealed they would be donating to the Halyna Hutchins Scholarship Fund and matching any donation made by the crew. There was also information on emotional support for crew including access to in-person and virtual grief counselors at any time.
The letter said that a wrap-out schedule will be sent out tomorrow, providing crew information on how to pick up personal items.
Complicating the wrap-out process will be a pair of warrants issued Sunday by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, for evidence including physical evidence such as cameras, camera equipment, tapes, hard drives, memory cards, computer hardware, firearms, ammunition and all paperwork related to firearms, and clothing, including costumes.
The warrants, also obtained by THR, lay out the timeline of events that led up to the shooting and its immediate aftermath as ascertained by investigators. The documents also include Souza’s and camera operator Reid Russell’s account of what happened as told to investigators.
According to the warrant, the movie’s assistant director Dave Halls grabbed one of three prop guns as laid out by the production’s armorer Hannah Guiterrez Reed. The report states that Halls then took the gun to Baldwin, who was in full old Western costume inside the church set, and “yelled, ‘Cold Gun,’ indicating the prop gun did not have any live rounds.”
The report says the prop gun was fired by Baldwin and struck Hutchins and then Souza, who was standing behind her. It adds that Halls did not know there were live rounds in the prop gun when he handed it to Baldwin.
In the aftermath of the shooting, the prop gun was given to Reed who removed the spent casing and she handed the firearm to deputies when they arrived on the scene.
The warrants also include a statement that Det. Joel Cano of the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office obtained from Souza on Friday Oct. 22. In the director’s statement, he outlines how the workday had started at 6:30 a.m., but on that day, Oct. 21, they started late on filming as the camera crew had quit and they needed to find another camera crew. Because of the staff issues, he had only one camera available to do the filming.
Souza states that “everyone was getting along” on the day of the incident and that “there were no altercations that took place to his knowledge.”
He continues that no film was recorded of the events as the crew was busy setting up rehearsal of the church scene. Inside the church set, Souza was standing next to Hutchins, with Baldwin sitting on a wooden pew “facing south towards the camera and crew.” “Joel said the rehearsal entailed actor Alec Baldwin cross drawing his weapon and pointing his revolver towards the camera lens,” the statement reads.
The statement adds, “According to Joel, it was his belief the gun being used in the rehearsal was safe and used the term ‘cold gun’ when explaining the firearm safety announcements. He said, he remembered the phrase ‘Cold Gun’ being said, while preparing for the scene.”
“Joel said as far as he knows, no one gets checked for live ammunition on their person prior and after the scenes are being filmed,” the statement said. “The only thing checked are the firearms to avoid live ammunition being in them. Joel stated there should never be live rounds whatsoever, near or around the scene.”
Souza says the actors and crew then broke for lunch around 12:30 p.m., and were “shuttled to an area away from the set” where they had their meals. The director said they returned to the set after lunch but that “he is not sure if the firearm was checked again.”
“Joel stated they had Alec sitting in a pew in a church building setting, and he was practicing a cross draw. Joel said he was looking over the shoulder of [Halyna], when he heard what sounded like a whip and then loud pop,” the statement reads.
Souza told Cano he heard Hutchins complaining about her stomach and grabbing her midsection as she stumbled backward. He added that he was bleeding from his shoulder and saw blood on Hutchins.
The warrant also includes a statement from Reid Russell, the camera operator who was standing next to Hutchins during the incident. Russell says that the morning of Oct. 21 was busier than usual as six people had quit the production over issues “involving payment and housing.” He also said the camera crew who walked out sent a letter to the producers about their disagreements.
Russell confirmed that no film or audio had been recorded as they were just setting up the scene for the rehearsal. He said that due to a shadow they had to set up the camera in a different angle from Baldwin. While that was going on the actor was explaining to Souza and Hutchins how he was going to draw out the firearm and where his arm would be when he pulled the gun from the holster. Russell said he “was not sure why the firearm was discharged and just remembered the loud bang.”
Russell was asked by Cano about the behavior of people on set during the church scene and he said that “everyone seemed to be getting along.” He also said in his statement that Baldwin was very careful with the firearm, and he relayed an incident earlier during filming when the actor made sure things were safe when he discharged a firearm.