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Filmmakers call for an end to using firearm blanks after 'Rust' cinematographer Halyna Hutchins' death by prop gun

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Actor Alec Baldwin
The actor Alec Baldwin at the Hamptons International Film Festival in East Hampton, New York, on October 7, 2021. Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images for National Geographic
  • Hollywood filmmakers are calling for an end to using firearm blanks in movies.

  • This follows the death of "Rust" cinematographer Halyna Hutchins who was killed by a prop gun.

  • "Mare of Easttown" director Craig Zobel says using blanks is "an unnecessary risk."

Hollywood filmmakers are calling for future movies to stop using firearm blanks after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died after being shot on the set of "Rust" by a prop gun.

Alec Baldwin, who stars in the movie, discharged a "prop firearm" that killed Hutchins and injured the director Joel Souza on Thursday, the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office said. A production spokesperson told Deadline Thursday: "There was an accident today on the New Mexico set of 'Rust' involving the misfire of a prop gun with blanks."

On Friday, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 44 told its members that the gun discharged by Baldwin contained a "live round," calling the incident an "accidental weapons discharge."

Many filmmakers and actors are paying tribute to Hutchins after her tragic death, however, some directors and cinematographers, including "Mare of Easttown" director Craig Zobel are criticizing the use of firearm blanks, which they say are no longer necessary for films.

Zobel tweeted: "There's no reason to have guns loaded with blanks or anything on set anymore. Should just be fully outlawed. There's computers now. The gunshots on Mare of Easttown are all digital. You can probably tell, but who cares? It's an unnecessary risk."

Some filmmakers are vowing to never use prop guns with blanks on their sets ever again.

"Someone hurt or killed on my set is my worst nightmare," Eric Kripke, the showrunner of "The Boys," tweeted. "Sending love to Halyna Hutchins' family, @JensenAckles, cast & crew of 'Rust.' I'm so sorry. In her memory, a simple, easy pledge: no more guns with blanks on any of my sets ever. We'll use VFX muzzle flashes. Who's with me?"

Ackles stars in "Rust" and is set to join "The Boys" in its third season.

The Oscar-nominated cinematographer Rachel Morrison wrote on her Instagram story that Hutchins' death could have been "preventable" in her tribute.

Morrison wrote: "Also I just want to vent for a second that there is no fathomable reason to use blanks anymore when it costs like 50c to add gunfire in post and even less reason to use them during a day scene where there is little to no interactive light. I am so mad at this needless and completely preventable loss."

"Also if you don't have enough funding to make a film safely, you shouldn't be making it," she added. "No shot, no scene, and no movie is worth the loss of life."

Ben Rock, "The Blair Witch Project" production designer, and David Slack, the producer of "Person of Interest," wrote Twitter threads explaining further how films can simulate gun violence more safely by using airsoft guns and adding visual effects.

"From a filmmaking perspective, blanks SUCK. They're extremely dangerous and under the best of circumstances they eat time," Rock wrote. "Yes, we would lose that absolute realism in exchange for a single frame of composited flash. It's not impossible to spot the fake stuff. But the muzzle flash from a blank also doesn't look exactly like a real bullet either. So pick your lack of realism. I side with safety."

In Slack's thread, he mentioned Hollywood's crewmember labor union, The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which Hutchins supported, that recently made a deal with Hollywood's main studios after threatening to strike.

"And remember how IATSE crew members have been demanding reasonable rest and longer turnarounds? Stuff like this is one of the big reasons why," he wrote.

The official account of Brandon Lee, the son of Bruce Lee, run by Brandon's sister Shannon also tweeted: "No one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period."

Brandon Lee was killed on the set of "The Crow" in 1993 after a bullet that was lodged in the barrel of a prop gun was propelled out by a blank round.

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