Was the ‘Rust’ Tragedy Inevitable?

Insiders argue that the era of Peak TV has contributed to shoddy practices on set.

An interesting report at Variety (“‘Rust’ Tragedy Reflects Troubling Trends on Movie and TV Sets: ‘We Did This to Ourselves’“) sheds some light on the conditions that led to the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins at the hands of Alec Baldwin. While there were clear mistakes made by multiple people on the “Rust” set that contributed to the tragedy, some think it was inevitable.

[K]nowledgeable sources pointed to a number of concerning industry trends that are reflected in the behind-the-scenes story of the low-budget independent Western.

Inexperience among crew members: The huge spike in the demand for content during the past decade has stretched below-the-line talent beyond its breaking point. “In some places you can’t find qualified people for these jobs so you are taking (crew) with very little experience,” said a veteran producer.

Inexperience among producers: The low barrier to entry in producing for streamers who pay production costs upfront has allowed smaller companies and startups to attempt large-scale productions without adequate staff, skills or equipment. Among the seven production entities listed as backing “Rust” was Streamline Global, a company founded in 2017 to use films produced with production tax incentives as vehicles to create tax breaks for wealthy investors. Streamline Global co-founders Emily Hunter Salveson and Ryan Donnell Smith serve as executive producer and producer, respectively, on “Rust.” Industry sources cite inherent problems that can occur when goals and incentives among producers are not aligned.

“We have developed new financial models to attract capital that would otherwise be unavailable to the film industry,” Salveson told Variety in 2017. “Films are the byproduct of the comprehensive tax planning strategies we employ for our clients.”

Complacency: Many producers and crew members have been working at the kind of high volume and pace that can breed a sense of complacency and over-confidence in key positions.

Attorney Jeff Harris, who represented the family of Sarah Jones, the camera assistant killed in 2014 in a horrific accident on the set of indie movie “Midnight Rider,” said that in his experience accidents are often the result of complacency about requirements to follow safety bulletins and protocols for dangerous activities.

“You live in this fantasy land where you’re fake shooting people and blowing things up,” says Harris, of Atlanta-based Harris Lowry Manton, who also represented the family of “The Walking Dead” stuntman who died of a head injury on set in 2017. “It’s easy to get into a false sense of complacency of ‘Oh we’ve done this a million times.’ “

Producers were quick to blame the Peak TV phenomenon for stretching the talent pool for below-the-line, craft and technical crew positions well beyond the breaking point.

The strain at every level created by the spike in the number of original scripted TV series is reverberating throughout the creative community. The pace of production has more than doubled in a decade, rising from 216 scripted series airing across broadcast and cable networks in 2010 to 532 across broadcast, cable and streaming in 2020, according to research by FX Networks.

The biggest evidence of the tension caused by the windfall of so much work was the strike drama that gripped Hollywood this month. IATSE, the union representing most production workers, threatened to walk out over quality of life issues in volatile contract talks that may yet be influenced by the jolt of Hutchins’ death.

Producers and other industry veterans spoke to Variety with both anger and anguish about the turmoil surrounding production workers that is reflected in larger IATSE labor conflict. And now the “Rust” death puts a giant spotlight on an problems that sources say are all too common on sets these days. As a picture emerges of an allegedly chaotic low-budget film set, the only certainty is that an accident took the life of a 42-year-old cinematographer, wife and mother of a 9-year-old son.

“As an industry, in Peak TV times, we did this to ourselves,” said a producer.

Multiple sources pointed to the importance of having experienced skilled technicians on set when weapons are involved. The details of “Rust” situation are not clear, but industry veterans noted that Westerns typically involve a number of firearms for multiple actors.

“On some shoots you might have a truck full of (firearms) and somebody has to keep track of every one of them and how they’re being used,” the producer said.

The armorer on set typically “spends a lot of time coaching people how to handle a gun safely,” the producer said. “In between takes that person is always standing around coaching.”

The producer added that there can often be problems with actors not taking the gun safety training seriously – that’s another reason for having experts on the set and maintaining safety protocols down to the letter. “This protects people from themselves,” the producer said.

Attorney Harris noted that the use of firearms on a set involves extra layers of disclosure and planning for insurance purposes. Harris and other industry veterans said producers are usually required to submit their plans for using firearms on set for review by insurance officials as part of the overall bond for the production.

Harris emphasized that he has no information about the “Rust” case. But if it turns out that safety protocols were skipped, that would be a big problem for the film’s insurer.

Evidence that corners were cut could lead to “a coverage fight with the (insurance) carrier who will say, ‘You told me you were doing this but instead you did this,’ ” Harris said.

Experienced producers and one veteran on-set safety expert who spoke to Variety emphasized the fundamental importance of having crew members with proper training and experience. That’s traditionally been one of the perks of hiring union workers. But in recent years, there’s been so much demand for crew positions that key jobs with big responsibilities have gone to younger members who haven’t had as much chance to learn from seasoned mentors on set.

Reports that “Rust” producers allegedly allowed multiple non-union workers to come into the production at some point were also confounding to industry veterans. Multiple sources with decades of production experience confirmed that the only way a union production is authorized to bring in non-union workers is if there are no union employees available for the job. In that scenario, IATSE or the relevant union has a formal vetting process for the non-union employee and has to grant a waiver to the production for the hire, sometimes on a day-to-day basis.

Those of us who have sat through the end credits of a Marvel movie waiting for the short trailer giving clues as to upcoming movies are amazed at just how many people are involved in bringing a motion picture to us. While MCU pictures, with their elaborate stunts and CGI, are surely at the upper end of that—and presumably use some of the best talent in the business—even relatively low-budget affairs like “Rust” are just a dude with a camera that starts shooting when the director yells “Action!”

It stands to reason that, in an era where a seemingly endless supply of networks and streaming services are competing to produce original content, that there simply isn’t enough experienced talent to go around.

Still, even a day after the tragedy, it was clear that the atmosphere on the set of “Rust” was especially problematic. Multiple safety mishaps had already happened before Hutchins was killed. The producer was clearly more worried about shooting fast to stay under budget than about the safety of the crew. If that was compounded by a slew of people who simply didn’t know what the hell they were doing, it’s not at all surprising that it led to tragedy.

FILED UNDER: Entertainment, Popular Culture
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. SKI says:

    The producer was clearly more worried about shooting fast to stay under budget than about the safety of the crew.

    My understanding is that Alec Baldwin was a producer for Rust.

    1
  2. Mister Bluster says:

    @SKI:..My understanding is that Alec Baldwin was a producer for Rust.

    EddieInCA addressed this last Saturday.

    EddieInCA says:
    Saturday, 23 October 2021 at 14:27
    @CSK: @gVOR08:

    Having a title as “Producer” may or may not mean anything. My current show has 17 producers. Of those 17, three of us (Greg Berlanti, me, and our Showrunner), have the power to hire or fire. And only one (me) is responsible for hiring the below the line crew. So just because he has the title of “Producer” doesn’t mean he had any power, or oversight, other than being the star of the film. It’s also safe to assume that Baldwin was given a “Producer” title because his involvement in the film is what allowed the financiers to fund the film.

    Film and Television credits are much more nuanced than most people understand.

    9
  3. Tony W says:

    One person gets shot accidentally on a movie set and there is much hand-wringing and momentum to assure prop guns never kill again.

    Dozens die most weeks in the U.S. to intentional shootings, and we collectively yawn and accept it as the cost of “freedom” or whatnot.

    23
  4. Kathy says:

    This has me thinking about Mythbusters, a show that used live ammo, explosives, violent chemical reactions, rockets, car crashes, and more, all with few problems.

    We saw some of the safety measures explained in the show, but not all. and there was the one time they punched a hole in a house with a cannonball.

    1
  5. mattbernius says:

    First, 100% @Tony W.

    Second I feel like the “it’s all premium TV’s fault” seems like a bit of weak tea for me. Obviously, I could be wrong, but I feel like we’ve been in “boom” cycles for low-budget media production in the past–there were a LOT of direct-to-video films shot during the 80’s and early 90’s.

    As always I’m curious about Eddie and WR’s takes on this.

    3
  6. James Joyner says:

    @Tony W: I’m not interested in turning this into yet another conversation about gun control.

    5
  7. Modulo Myself says:

    I’ve heard enough stories about how finance/tech bro money has changed film and tv. Money has always been the goal of popular culture, but there are different ways to make money. A show being a line on a tranche’s spreadsheet somewhere with a bunch of other holdings is not the same thing as a bunch of people who know what they’re doing putting money up because they happen to like to turning a profit on TV.

    2
  8. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Every industry has budget and schedule constraints.
    And in every industry there are people who do things right, and people who do things half-assed.
    Unfortunately there many situations in life where doing things half-assed can get you killed.

    I would only add that when Republicans rail against regulations, they are advocating for doing things half-assed. Which, again, can get people killed.

    3
  9. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m not interested in turning this into yet another conversation about gun control.

    While I am in total agreement with you…this is clearly not a gun control issue…not everyone agrees.
    https://shopdonjr.com/collections/mens-apparel/products/guns-dont-kill-people-mens-apparel-1

    5
  10. SKI says:

    @Mister Bluster: Yes, which is why I said “a” producer.

    And the reasons he was made a producer are exactly the reasons he had enough influence to have the ongoing issues addressed, even if he technically didn’t have the direct authority over those areas.

    Do you think he regrets not making sure that protocols were being followed?

    2
  11. SKI says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Every industry has budget and schedule constraints.
    And in every industry there are people who do things right, and people who do things half-assed.

    And in every industry and entity, some people raise their hands and their voices when they see things not being done right and there are those who don’t.

    If your entity doesn’t have those folks, if you don’t have a culture from leadership that rewards raising concerns, you will ultimately end up paying a price.

    4
  12. gVOR08 says:

    So the real villain here is late-stage capitalism?

    “We have developed new financial models to attract capital that would otherwise be unavailable to the film industry,” Salveson told Variety in 2017. “Films are the byproduct of the comprehensive tax planning strategies we employ for our clients.”

    would seem to confirm that indeed it is.

    Pareto’s Rule seems to apply to a lot of things and we generally focus on the 20% of workers who are capable and productive, not the 80% who are not.

    2
  13. Tony W says:

    @James Joyner:

    another conversation about gun control

    That’s understandable.

    All we ever do about it is talk.

    11
  14. EddieInCA says:

    I’m not going to defend any of the people on the “Rust” set. However, having said, that I’ll take the safety of the Film and TV industry against pretty much every other industry. I’d wager that less people get injured or killed on film and TV sets domestically than pretty much any other business. Since the 1920’s, there has been less, on average, than 25 incidents per decade, with a small percentage of those incidents resulting in deaths.

    But pretty much most of these incidents were caused by mistakes by humans, and could have been avoided.

    And yes, there currently are NOT enough qualified production people to fill in insatiable need for content. I’m been bemoaning that fact for months on this very blog.

    Yes. Certain companies are only worried about the budget, and, because of it, hire some sketchy people. The Assistant Director on the film was well known in the business for not taking safety seriously – having been fired from his last show due to gun safety issues and accidental discharges. He’s someone I would have never even considered, much less hired.

    Like any other business, film and TV has people with great, GREAT credits, who still suck at their jobs. But they keep getting work due to those three-four great films they worked on a dozen years ago, rather than the dreck they’ve been working on the last decade. If a Line Producer doesn’t do his due diligence on each crew member, you end up with a crew like you did on “Rust”.

    I’ve done my share of low-budget projects. It’s possible to find inexperienced people who are hungry, but who still follow the rules. These producers didn’t do that.

    It was a completely avoidable tragedy. You can’t say that about some tragedies. This one, you certainly can.

    17
  15. Michael Reynolds says:

    @SKI:
    Blaming Baldwin is silly. He’s an actor, FFS. Slapping a ‘producer’ title on an actor doesn’t make the actor anything but an actor. I’ve got a producer credit (under a different name) for a documentary feature. Know how I got that credit? I called a guy I knew who does documentaries and said, “Hey, you should take your camera to ___. I’ll cover the air fare.” Ta da! Producer.

    More recently I was offered a producer title on a certain movie adaptation of books my wife and I wrote. The job description amounted to, “Do nothing but publicly endorse all our decisions.” I told them to fuck off, because telling people to fuck off is kind of my thing. But had they slapped my name on the credits it would have meant absolutely nothing in terms of responsibility, still less in terms of power.

    7
  16. Mu Yixiao says:

    @EddieInCA:

    It was a completely avoidable tragedy. You can’t say that about some tragedies. This one, you certainly can.

    Having only worked live theatre, not film, that’s exactly my take.

    In live theatre, there may only be a few seconds for an actor leaving the stage, be handed the weapon, and return to the stage. And yet proper safety protocols are followed. It’s unconscionable, in a situation where you have minutes, to not follow those same protocols.

    My primary job in theatre was as a rigger and flyman. I would move (literally) tons of wood and steel from 50-100 feet in the air to the ground in a matter of seconds–while actors/dancers/performers were running around underneath. It was my responsibility to not maim or kill any of them.

    I had strict protocols for loading and unloading batons. At times they could be up to half a ton out of weight. It was a call-and-response between the ground, the rail (100′ in the air where they load the weight) and the stage (where things are moving). In 10 years, I never had an incident–and we’d do hundreds of shows a year. After leaving one theatre, they had 2 runaways in a matter of months.

    Two anecdotes stand out in my mind:

    1) A deck manager for one of the shows watched me going through the load and commented that they had just done a show at Annapolis–and I made the cadets look sloppy in comparison.

    2) I had not called a load clear, and the road crew instructed the locals to start removing the scenery from the baton. I called them to stop–which they did. The roadie got pissed “This is my show, I say what goes!” My reply was simple: “This is my crew, and they won’t do shit until I give the clear.” The roadie tried to get them going again. The crew stood there and waited for me.

    Proper protocols, well-trained crews. Zero incidents. It’s not that difficult.

    7
  17. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I blame Baldwin a little simply because he should know better than to point a gun, even a “cold” one, at somebody. But he’s way down the list of who fucked up the most here and he’s going to have to live with this the rest of his life. There’s just no reason to pile on.

    4
  18. Cheryl Rofer says:

    Maybe we shouldn’t be making so many violent movies. Maybe we shouldn’t be glorifying violence as the answer to our problems.

    One account said that the gun was to be pointed directly into the camera. That means that the audience would see the gun pointed directly at them. This is one reason why I hardly ever go to the movies any more. Nobody should have the experience, even simulated, of having a gun pointed at them.

    3
  19. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner: Baldwin is probably far from the most culpable, but he is the individual who shot them, and he has deep pockets, so he’ll catch a lot of the flack, perhaps unfairly. He has my thoughts and prayers.

  20. EddieInCA says:

    @James Joyner:

    Alec Baldwin is guilty of only one thing, and its a biggie. You never, ever, point the gun directly at your target. You aim a foot to the right or a foot to the left. The camera can’t tell that you’re not aiming it directly at them. Unless the gun went off accidentally during movement, there is no way he should have been aimed at any person.

    3
  21. a country lawyer says:

    @Michael Reynolds:” …(H)ad they slapped my name on the credits it would have meant absolutely nothing in terms of responsibility”. Maybe, maybe not. Like many things the devil is in the details, in this case, what does the contract say and sometimes, just as important, what is the custom in the industry. Much of the civil litigation in which I’ve been involved arose because someone assumed a particular outcome without actually having a professional review and opine on it.
    Several years ago a client of our firm who was the chairman of a big board company was asked to invest in a Hollywood movie. He did, purely as an investment and was listed as a producer. His involvement was limited to writing a check and knowing him, I doubt he even watched the final product. But you can be sure our transaction people went thougth the contract with a fine tooth comb and made sure he was fully protected either with indemnity or insurance. I would have expected Baldwin’s attorneys to have done the same, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

    2
  22. flat earth luddite says:

    @SKI:
    Trust me, Mr. Baldwin will relive this catastrophe every time he closes his eyes. Every. Single. Time. Probably for the rest of his life.

    4
  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    The producer was clearly more worried about shooting fast to stay under budget than about the safety of the crew.

    I can understand that. This is somebody’s tax break we’re talking about here. How could the lives of people (probably mostly nameless ones at that) possibly compare to minimizing one’s tax burden? Priorities man!

    1
  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @SKI: Forgive me for being this guy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Alex Baldwin can’t tell the difference between a protocol and a catering truck bagel.

    1
  25. dazedandconfused says:

    @EddieInCA:

    And yes, there currently are NOT enough qualified production people to fill in insatiable need for content.

    I suspect it will turn out to be what should be etched on the gravestone of the Project Rust. Seems likely the producers committed themselves to a schedule assuming they would be able to acquire good people, they had Alec effin’ Baldwin, fer cryin’ out loud, they thought they were big boys on the production block. But that didn’t happen. All the qualified, experienced armorers were booked. It was either go with a rook or abandon the project.

  26. David S. says:

    Meanwhile, the less high-profile hubbub is Ruby Rose’s allegations over the safety standards at the CW on the set of Batwoman, and most things I’ve read think she’s got a point, as corroborated by reports of other stuff on other CW sets.

    So, yes. Safety standards are almost certainly slipping from the ideal they should be at. But, just the same, the people here abstractly complaining that the workers should have raised concerns are completely ignoring the reported fact that the workers did raise concerns and were ignored.

    That’s why all the union people walked out shortly before the incident: they were being ignored. One of the last things Hutchins is cited as saying is being really sad about their departure. This is entirely a management issue.

    4
  27. Mister Bluster says:
  28. Mimai says:

    Has anyone come across good (or any for that matter) data on the rates of serious injury / death on these sets? The Variety piece didn’t present any.

    I’m open to the idea that increasing pressure (more shows, less money, fewer qualified people) has yielded increasing rates – it makes intuitive sense. But I haven’t seen data on either of those, much less that the former is correlated with (or causes) the latter.

    Disclosure: I haven’t been motivated to look beyond this post.

    1
  29. gVOR08 says:

    @Mimai: Data?! Do you not realize you are on the internet?

    3
  30. Gustopher says:

    @David S.: Management skipping over safety standards is not unique to the entertainment industry, alas.

    Which brings us to Dr. Joyner’s original question — was this inevitable? This or something like it was, as the safety standards and management’s goals of fast and quick are in perpetual tension and enforcement of safety standards will always slowly weaken until there is an “accident” that forces everyone to pay attention to them.

    In this particular workplace, there were enough previous violations with accidental gun discharges, that it shouldn’t have required someone being shot though.

    2
  31. Kathy says:

    @David S.:
    @Gustopher:

    There are all too many times when prior warnings are uncovered after a disaster happens. and about as many times when the warnings were ignored, downplayed, or not addressed adequately.

    let’s be honest, though, who reports on the warnings when they happen, and who is interested? Most often, nothing is reported widely, nor read or consumed widely, until a disaster happens.

    2
  32. wr says:

    @mattbernius: “As always I’m curious about Eddie and WR’s takes on this.”

    Well, since you ask… I think it’s a load of horse shit.

    There are responsible production entities and there are irresponsible production entities. Roger Corman made thousands of low-budget films over decades, and people didn’t die from them. And every production, high budget or low, had safety rituals around handling weapons that sometimes seemed to border on OCD (and bless them all for it).

    If a production company hires someone to be in charge of weapons who doesn’t know or care about safety, it’s because the guys running the place don’t care about safety. The fish always rots from the head down.

    9
  33. wr says:

    @SKI: “And the reasons he was made a producer are exactly the reasons he had enough influence to have the ongoing issues addressed, even if he technically didn’t have the direct authority over those areas.”

    With all due respect. you simply don’t know what you’re talking about. This is not how the business works; this is not what Baldwin’s title means. I don’t know if you’re looking for a way to blame him personally or are just being contrarian, but what you are saying has no relation to the realities of film production.

    6
  34. dazedandconfused says:

    @EddieInCA:

    I wonder if always being a foot off target is possible for an actor practicing a quick draw shot. What I blame Baldwin a little for, and I’ll bet the house he blames himself for a lot, was assuming he had a cold gun because someone yelled it. Takes four seconds to verify.

    2
  35. wr says:

    @James Joyner: “I blame Baldwin a little simply because he should know better than to point a gun, even a “cold” one, at somebody”

    It has been said that the shot to be filmed was of Baldwin firing his gun towards the camera. There’s no way to achieve that shot without having Baldwin, you know, aim his gun at the camera. And it’s not like this is some kind of weird new image — the first time a movie used a cut of someone firing directly at the camera was in Edwin S. Porter’s The Great Train Robbery, which was released 118 years ago. (Movie magic — on screen you don’t see him aiming at a camera, you see the POV of the person he’s aiming at!) The DP was almost certainly standing by the camera to get the shot.

    It’s not a matter of Baldwin “knowing better.” It’s Baldwin doing exactly what the director asked to get a (pretty routine) shot. If this is indeed the case, Baldwin did absolutely nothing wrong.

    6
  36. wr says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: “This is one reason why I hardly ever go to the movies any more. Nobody should have the experience, even simulated, of having a gun pointed at them.”

    I don’t know that you can blame contemporary filmmakers for this. Again, Edwin S. Porter used exactly this shot in The Great Train Robbery in 1903. Somehow the world carried on.

    (Although there was a world war just eight years later. Coincidence…?

    4
  37. SKI says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I’m not blaming Baldwin or saying he is the cause of the shooting.

    I’m saying, as far as we know at this point, he failed to speak up and use his influence and clout to get someone to take safety issues seriously. He is going to have to lkive with that.

    And yes, @flat earth luddite, I feel sorry for him bearing that burden. He was told the gun was cold.

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I’m not sure that matters. He knew that there had been two accidental shootings already. One you can write off as a mistake. Two similar errors indicate you likely have a systemic problem. A leader, perhaps especially one who doesn’t have specific expertise, should make sure that the cause is identified and ameliorated. That processes are documented and followed.

    @wr: You are correct that I don’t know film production but I do know humans and organizations and culture. If Baldwin said we don’t proceed until we get the firearms problems resolved, they would have resolved them.

    He wasn’t responsible for the situation but he could have made sure it was addressed – and he is going to live with the consequences of not speaking up.

    2
  38. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @EddieInCA:

    There was mention today of people on the set engaging in what’s apparently termed “plinking”, or using the weaponry assigned to the production in their down time to shoot at cans or some such activity. Evidently live ammunition was used, and according to the person quoted, it’s a common occurrence. I don’t have any idea who she is, but it seemed a fairly serious thing to be alleging. Is this something you’ve run into / is it indeed common?

  39. EddieInCA says:

    @David S.:

    David S. says:
    Tuesday, 26 October 2021 at 14:24
    Meanwhile, the less high-profile hubbub is Ruby Rose’s allegations over the safety standards at the CW on the set of Batwoman, and most things I’ve read think she’s got a point, as corroborated by reports of other stuff on other CW sets.

    Sorry David. But you have no idea what you’re talking about. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t spread disinformation.

    First of all, I’m the producer currently on a “CW”show. For the last four years, I’ve been a producer on a “CW” show. Guess what? CW doesn’t produce any shows. Not one. They license shows to air on their network from studios and other content creators. “Batwoman”, like my show, is produced by Warner Bros Television (WBTV) and Berlanti Productions. CW licenses “Batwoman” from WBTV to air for certain dates. CW also licenses shows from other studios as well. But they produce zero shows. Once that licensing arrangement ends, WBTV regains control of the IP and are free to license it to someone else (Netflix, Amazon, local TV stations, etc). They’re strictly a distribution entity – a television network. Some networks have subsidiaries that produce content (CBS Production, NBC Universal Productions, ABC Studios, etc), but CW doesn’t.

    Secondly, the film and TV business is very good about keeping their dirty secrets out of the public eye. But they can’t keep their secrets from the employees who work in film and TV, and as wr can attest, it’s a very, very small community of the people who work regularly in scripted television or mainstream feature films. We all talk. We all know each other. I knew about the “Rust” accident 30 minutes after it happened and before it made the press. I posted to this very blog about it before “Deadline”, “Variety”, or the “Hollywood Reporter” reported it.

    Having said all that, Ruby Rose had REPEATED and CONTINUING reprimands from the studio for her behavior on Batman. It was so bad, that I, on a production 2000 miles away in a different country, heard about how she treats her hair and makeup people, how she cursed out a van driver, how the sound people hated working with her because of her abusive behavior. There are very few secrets in the business when it comes to the people who work regularly. If the studio could have fired Ruby Rose sooner, they would have. She will lose every lawsuit she were to file (but she won’t file any) because there is so much documented toxic behavior by Ruby Rose that no lawyer will take the case. How do I know it’s true? The makeup artist in question has worked for me. I have texts from her contemporaneously. The Van driver is a former driver of mine, and we caught up recently and I heard the stories about Ms. Rose. The stories are out there about her. She was worse than Clayne Crawford, who was famously fired from “Lethal Weapon” (by the same studio) for behavior as bad as that of Ms. Rose.

    3
  40. EddieInCA says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I’ve never heard of such a thing in my entire career. Literally. Never.

    That behavior, if I learned of it, would get someone fired immediately.

    Guns used for productions should, at all times, be locked under the supervision of the Propmaster or Armourer. No exceptions. There is no reason for any prop gun to ever be int he hands of another crew member for any reason.

  41. gVOR08 says:

    When I was a little kid in North Dakota we’d go plinking. We’d walk around and shoot .22s at cans or gophers or dirt clods or whatever. ND was largely empty, but it was still a dumb thing to allow us to do. Different time and place. As a 13 year old kid I could go to the hardware store and buy my own ammunition. (It was a lot cheaper then.)

    1
  42. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Thank you for clarifying that. I suspected that it had to be the case. I’ve never been anywhere near a film set (that I knew about anyway) beyond seeing from a distance what I think might have been SVU shooting something at Foley Square, but even to an outsider like me it seemed ridiculous to say it is typical behavior. I read the piece I linked to and just thought “This just can not really be the norm on all sets. It would be textbook workplace insanity. These folks were an disaster waiting to happen”.

  43. Gustopher says:

    @wr:

    It’s not a matter of Baldwin “knowing better.” It’s Baldwin doing exactly what the director asked to get a (pretty routine) shot. If this is indeed the case, Baldwin did absolutely nothing wrong.

    Dumb question: Is there any reason they cannot set up the shot, and then step away from the camera? Might seem safe enough to be at the camera given all the other safety protocols, but, clearly not…

    @EddieInCA:

    Alec Baldwin is guilty of only one thing, and its a biggie. You never, ever, point the gun directly at your target. You aim a foot to the right or a foot to the left. The camera can’t tell that you’re not aiming it directly at them. Unless the gun went off accidentally during movement, there is no way he should have been aimed at any person.

    I think you are assuming that Baldwin is a semi-decent shot. He may have been trying to aim three feet from the camera, for all we know.

    (Not sure how likely it would be, but would you trust your life on a semi-trained person not accidently shooting something 3-5 feet to the left/right of where he was aiming?)

  44. EddieInCA says:

    Attorney Jeff Harris, who represented the family of Sarah Jones, the camera assistant killed in 2014 in a horrific accident on the set of indie movie “Midnight Rider,” said that in his experience accidents are often the result of complacency about requirements to follow safety bulletins and protocols for dangerous activities.

    “You live in this fantasy land where you’re fake shooting people and blowing things up,” says Harris, of Atlanta-based Harris Lowry Manton, who also represented the family of “The Walking Dead” stuntman who died of a head injury on set in 2017. “It’s easy to get into a false sense of complacency of ‘Oh we’ve done this a million times.’ “

    Producers were quick to blame the Peak TV phenomenon for stretching the talent pool for below-the-line, craft and technical crew positions well beyond the breaking point.

    It’s personal for me. Sarah Jones worked for me in Georgia.

    The stuntman, not named in the original post, was named John Bernecker. He worked for me in Louisiana.

    Both were wonderful people taken way too young.

    Both heartbreaking. Both tragic. Both avoidable. Both still with me years later.

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  45. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner: It’s all still a bit sketchy, but at least one source said the scene called for him to point the gun at the camera, and the director and cinematographer were lining up the shot. If that’s correct, yes, they shouldn’t have done it, but it is even more blame for the person whose sole job was to insure gun safety.

  46. MarkedMan says:

    @HarvardLaw92: That is truly disturbing. I’m not involved in the film industry but have been responsible for industrial safety design and there are f*cking unbreakable rules. Screwing around with potentially dangerous equipment is an immediately fireable offense. Any manager that knew of it and let it happen would be gone and any worker who did would be walked out the door and the union would not lift a hand for them. And by my rights one of the unbreakable rules in film production should be no live ammunition or non-prop guns on a set or anywhere near it. None. Never. And if some man-boy state like Texas or Alabama starts chest puffing about right to carry or some such childish nonsense then that state becomes off limits for any productions that might involve guns in a scene.

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  47. Lounsbury says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Nobody should have the experience, even simulated, of having a gun pointed at them.

    Silly church lady namby pambyism. God’s sake, the world has guns in it. And it’s not the end of it if one sees a gun pointed at one. I’ve experienced it several times, real world. Militias. AK. Don’t have nightmares. Of course neither did I get shot, but Church Lady absurdity is boring.

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  48. dazedandconfused says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Unnecessarily harsh but I have to agree. She’s right that nobody should ideally have to have a gun pointed at them, and if it ever happens at a range somebody gets banned, but this is show business.

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