Rust Movie Productions denies allegations of wrongdoing by New Mexico safety agency

Rust Movie Productions LLC, the company behind the low-budget western Halyna Hutchins that Halyna Hutchins was working on when she was killed, has denied allegations by the New Mexico Health and Safety Bureau that resulted in a $136,793 fine .

The company behind the film Rust said Tuesday afternoon in a filing with the New Mexico Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Occupational Safety and Health that the penalties imposed on it were unjustified.

The company listed several other defenses, including that it relied on specialty contractors such as gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez Reed, that it was not the controlling employer on the site, and that each violation of regulations was caused by “unavoidable employee misconduct.”

A gunsmith’s responsibility on a film set is to “ensure that there is no live ammunition on the premises — as expressly prohibited by either (Rust Movie Productions) or Bonanza Creek Ranch — or to ensure that no live ammunition is purchased or accidentally loaded into a set firearm,” the company wrote in its filing.

Representatives from Rust Movie Productions and Gutierrez Reed did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The New Mexico Agency imposed its maximum sentence on producers in April, six months after actor Alec Baldwin accidentally fired a live round during a rehearsal last fall, fatally shooting cameraman Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.

The murder shocked the film industry and prompted a push to regulate guns on film sets. The agency accused production managers of “simple indifference” to staff safety and said management knew firearm safety procedures were not being followed on set.

In its 21-page response, Rust Movie Productions denied it was indifferent to staff safety, saying live ammunition was specifically prohibited on set and that policy had been communicated to everyone on site.

“Specialized independent contractors have been specifically engaged to train individuals in firearm safety and operation, to procure firearms and blanks and dummy ammunition, to securely manage the transfer and use of firearms on premises, and to conduct safety briefings on days when blanks are fired were performing,” Rust Productions said in its filing. It found that blank cartridges were used on eight of the eleven days of production.

The company denied that Gutierrez Reed was ever instructed to focus less on her gunsmith duties or that the actors or stunt crew did not receive the necessary training, saying that all actors and stunt crew received a received firearms training.

Gutierrez Reed claimed in text messages with the production that she was overwhelmed at the two jobs she was hired to do: gunsmith, in charge of guns and gun safety, and assistant to props master Sarah Zachry, who was in charge of the props that were used to recreate 1880’s Kansas on the film production set south of Santa Fe.

The company said Gutierrez Reed’s prop duties were secondary and would be offered to augment her income on days when firearms were not used.

Rust Movie Productions (RMP) also said union representatives were always present on set and were involved in disagreements with the crew over living conditions during filming. According to the Times Chronicle of Events, cinematographer Lane Luper and other members of the “Rust” camera crew finished production the morning Hutchins died.

In its response to the state agency, RMP said Luper resigned because the company refused his request for payment of lodging expenses, which he said were unnecessary and not required by the union.

The company said it had received no complaint from the union about gun-related safety issues, adding that there were two accidental firearm blank shots that “were in the hands of the very people who were designated to firearm blanks on set.” handle”.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2022-09-07/rust-productions-denies-new-mexico-osha-wrongdoing-allegations Rust Movie Productions denies allegations of wrongdoing by New Mexico safety agency

Sarah Ridley

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