Approximately six hours before Alec Baldwin fired the prop gun that killed Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, several members of the camera crew staged a walkout to protest poor and unsafe working conditions. Two people who spoke to Consequence on condition of anonymity said that Rust’s assistant director Dave Halls — the person responsible for managing the production schedule and who police say handed the weapon to Baldwin — had a troubling history of ignoring safety protocols.
News of the walkout first spread via a viral Instagram post on the @ia_members account, which is run anonymously by members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, or IATSE. The post showed a screenshot of a text message from a member of the Rust camera crew, saying, “The entire camera crew walked off that morning,” because of “lack of payment for three weeks, taking our hotels away despite asking for them in our deals, lack of COVID safety, [and on] top of that, poor gun safety!” The text added that producers “brought in 4 non union guys to replace us and tried calling the cops on us.”
The Los Angeles Times has confirmed the walkout and gathered more details about the production’s lack of gun care. A prop gun dangerously misfired twice on Saturday, October 16th, and one more time the week before. One source noted, “there was a serious lack of safety meetings on this set.”
Sources tell Consequence that this is part of a pattern for Halls, a veteran assistant director who has worked on projects including Reno 911, Bones, and The Matrix Reloaded. One person who asked to remain anonymous said that she had twice filed formal safety complaints against Halls. Another person, who asked to be identified as ‘Jay,’ recounted several times that he said Halls ignored safety protocols.
In one instance when, “We did have a gun on set,” Jay said Halls consistently tried to either skip or hurry through the safety run-throughs. “I would want to have these safety meetings. I can show them [actors] that the chamber is empty, the magazine is empty, so they can be comfortable on set. I’m the only person who holds it, or maybe an armorer if you wanted a flashbang effect. The AD is supposed to check it each time, they are supposed to be the last line of defense. He would always roll his eyes. ‘Do we need to do a safety meeting?’ He would do it and he would be flippant. ‘Well guys, we’ve got a gun on set, same as always.'”