Halyna Hutchins, a 42-year-old Ukrainian woman who worked as a director of photography on Hollywood films and called herself a “restless dreamer,” was identified by sheriff’s officials in New Mexico as the woman shot and killed with a prop gun by actor Alec Baldwin.
Hutchins was the director of photography for Baldwin’s film “Rust”; she died when a prop gun discharged, according to a local sheriff in New Mexico.
According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, Baldwin was questioned by authorities and was seen in tears. The newspaper reported that authorities are trying “to determine if the incident was an accident” as well as “what type of projectile was discharged.”
According to Variety, Baldwin, a co-producer on the movie, plays “infamous outlaw Rust, whose 13-year-old grandson is convicted of an accidental murder.”
The death brings to mind the death of Brandon Lee, the son of Bruce Lee, who was killed in a prop gun accident on the set of the movie The Crow in 1993. According to Biography.com, in that case, a bullet had become stuck in a prop gun that was only supposed to fire blanks. It’s not clear yet what specifically led to the prop gun tragedy that took Hutchins’ life.
Tributes flowed for Hutchins. “Absolutely horrifying and devastating news about cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins. My heart goes out to her family,” tweeted the actor Elijah Wood.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Hutchins & the Film’s Director, Joel Souza, Were Both Shot by Baldwin; Hutchins’ Last Instagram Post Spoke About the ‘Perks’ of Shooting a Western
A news release from the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office says that deputies “were dispatched to the Bonanza Creek Ranch movie set of the western ‘Rust,’ October 21, 2021, when an 911 caller reported a shooting on the set.”
“There was an accident today on the New Mexico set of ‘Rust’ involving the misfire of a prop gun with blanks,” one of the film’s producers said in a statement to ABC News. “Production has been halted for the time being. The safety of our cast and crew remains our top priority.”
The sheriff’s office “confirms that two individuals were shot on the set of Rust,” the news release continued. “Halyna Hutchins, 42, director of photography and Joel Souza, 48, director, were shot when a prop firearm was discharged by Alec Baldwin, 68, producer and actor.”
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Two days before the fatal shooting, Hutchins posted a video of herself on Instagram riding horses and wrote, “One of the perks of shooting a western is you get to ride horses on your day off:)”
2. Hutchins, Who Studied Cinematography, Was From Ukraine & Called Herself a ‘Restless Dreamer’
On her Facebook page, Hutchins described herself as the “Director of Photography at ICG: International Cinematographers Guild (IATSE Local 600).” She wrote that she “studied Cinematography at AFI Conservatory,” lived in Los Angeles, California, and was from Kyiv, Ukraine.
According to her website, Hutchins was “a Los Angeles based union cinematographer who graduated from the AFI conservatory in 2015 and has since established a track record of successful narrative features. Halyna was selected as one of American Cinematographer’s Rising Stars of 2019 as well as a cinematographer for the 21st Century Fox DP Lab in 2018.”
On Instagram, Hutchins called herself, “Restless Dreamer. Adrenaline junkie. Cinematographer |ICG Local 600| Los Angeles| AFI Cinematography 🎥. Represented by Innovative Artists.”
She was a mother who was married to Matthew Hutchins, who has worked as a lawyer.
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You can see examples of her work here.
3. No Charges Have Been Filed in the Death of Hutchins, Who Grew Up on a Soviet Military Base & Worked as an Investigative Journalist on British Documentaries
Hutchins’ website says that she “grew up on a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle surrounded by reindeer and nuclear submarines. She holds a graduate degree in International Journalism from Kyiv National University in Ukraine and previously worked as an investigative journalist with British documentary productions in Europe.”
Filmmaker and journalist Jim Hemphill told CNN that Hutchins’ time on the Soviet military base played a role in developing her love of filmmaking.
“She grew up on a Soviet military base where there wasn’t much to do but watch movies. So she fell in love with movies at a young age, came over here, was really making a name for herself as a cinematographer of genre movies,” he said. “She was known for action films and horror films. It is just a devastating loss, I think, to everybody in the cinematography community.”
According to her website, “Her work on Adam Egypt Mortimer’s art house superhero action film Archenemy, starring Joe Manganiello, premiered at Beyond Fest 2020 and was in official competition at the Sitges International Film Festival, receiving a nomination for Best Motion Picture.”
The site added: “Halyna’s recent work also includes Blindfire, racially charged cop drama written and directed by Mike Nell starring Brian Geraghty (The Hurt Locker, TNT’s The Alienist) and Sharon Leal (Supergirl, Instinct),winner of Best Crime Drama at the Houston International Film Festival, 2020.”
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It continues, “Darlin’, a horror feature lensed by Hutchins and directed by Pollyanna McIntosh (The Walking Dead), has premiered at the SXSW film festival 2019 with limited theatrical release in the US while playing internationally at the Edinburgh Film Festival, Fantasia, London FrightFest, BiFan, Sitges, Galway Film Fleadh (Best International Film nomination), Fangoria Chainsaw Awards (Best First Feature nomination).”
Authorities have not filed charges in connection with Hutchins’ death, which remains under investigation.
The investigation “remains open and active. No charges have been filed in regard to this incident. Witnesses continue to be interviewed by detectives,” the sheriff’s office news release said.
It’s not yet clear whether there is any criminal culpability, but Baldwin was criticized by many people on social media anyway.
However, others offered well wishes and prayers.
4. Hutchins Was Transported to a Hospital, Where She Died
Hutchins was “transported, via helicopter, to University of New Mexico Hospital where she was pronounced dead by medical personnel,” the sheriff’s office said. “Mr. Souza was transported by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center where he is undergoing treatment for his injuries.”
Tessa Mentus, KOB4 evening anchor, wrote on Twitter, “MAJOR #UPDATE: @santafesheriff confirms actor and producer of #Rust, Alec Baldwin, discharged the prop gun on set that killed the film’s director of photography, Halyna Hutchins (42), and injured the film’s director, Joel Souza (48). @KOB4.”
5. Hutchins Posted Photos From the Set of the Movie Praising the ‘Incredible Sky’ at Bonanza Creek Ranch
On her Facebook page, Hutchins’ top photo, from October 19, shows her on the set of the film “Rust.” “Our IATSE solidarity stand on RUST,” she wrote.
On October 11, she wrote, “Incredible sky of New Mexico at Bonanza Creek Ranch. #sunset #western #filming #onlocation #bonanzacreekmovieranch.”
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