Rust Movie Productions defends itself against “intentional” violation of on-set safety protocols

Rust Movie Productions (RMP) has challenged the New Mexico Environment Department’s (NMED) citation that it “willfully” violated safety protocols on the set of the Western.

The company denied that it was the “employer” who was responsible for overseeing the set or certain procedures, including on-set maintenance and loading of weapons.

It comes after a report on cinematographer Halyna Hutchins’ fatal shooting found that the production company “knew that firearms safety procedures were not being followed on set” and “demonstrated open indifference to staff safety”.

RMP was fined US$136,793 (£104,810), the maximum fine allowed under New Mexico state law, after the six-month investigation into the incident.


Ms Hutchins was killed on the set of the western film in October last year after a prop actor held by Alec Baldwin was fired (Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office/PA).

Ms Hutchins was killed on the set of the western film in October last year after a prop-gun actor held by Alec Baldwin was fired.

Director Joel Souza was also injured while filming at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe.

In new filings challenging the citation, attorneys argued that the law allows film producers to delegate “critical functions” like firearms safety to “experts in the field,” and the responsibility does not rest with the producers.

The documents obtained by the PA news agency also argued that the NMED demonstrated a “misunderstanding” by the film industry.

“RMP was not the ’employer’ responsible for overseeing the film set, much less overseeing specific protocols such as gun maintenance and loading,” the filings say.

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“The law allows producers to delegate such critical functions as firearm safety to experts in the field, and does not give that responsibility to producers whose expertise is arranging financing and contracting for shooting logistics.

“RMP has not ‘willfully’ violated any security protocol but has enforced all applicable security protocols.”

The documents state that all firearm-handling actors received appropriate training and additional safety restrictions were put in place to protect a child actor on set.


Director Joel Souza was also injured in the Bonanza Creek Ranch shooting near Santa Fe (Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office/PA)

They added that deputy directors had been instructed to conduct safety briefings on all days firearms were to be used and one was conducted on the morning of the fatal shooting.

Lawyers also argued that the film’s gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, was not “overwhelmed” by the workload, but “didn’t do her job properly,” contrary to the NMED findings.

Gutierrez Reed’s attorneys said the NMED report shows that the gunsmith “despite her concerns expressed, were not provided with adequate time or resources to carry out her work effectively.”

“OSHA also critically noted that production had failed to bring in Hannah to perform her gunsmith duties and inspect the firearm immediately prior to its use in the impromptu scene with Baldwin,” the statement said.

“As we said before, had someone on the production called Hannah back to the church to confer with her prior to the scene, this tragedy would have been averted.”

Baldwin’s attorneys said they were “grateful” to the New Mexico Occupational Safety and Health Bureau after the report was released and said it “exonerated” the actor.

NMED was contacted for comment. Rust Movie Productions defends itself against “intentional” violation of on-set safety protocols

Fry Electronics Team

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