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Alec Baldwin has reposted a lengthy statement from a Rust crewmember strongly denying reports of unsafe working conditions on the set of the indie Western prior to the fatal shooting of the film’s director of photography, Halyna Hutchins.
On Tuesday, the Rust producer and star shared a message from costume designer Terese Magpale Davis on Instagram with the caption “Read this.” In the message, Davis writes, “I’m so sick of this narrative. I worked on this movie. The story being spun of us being overworked and surrounded by unsafe, chaotic conditions is bullshit.”
Per Davis, who according to IMDb has also previously worked as a costumer on Dumplin’ and Lego Masters, the Rust production never worked more than 12 and a half hours in a day, with most days clocking in at under 12 hours. “The day Halyna died we had come off of a 12 hour turnaround” — rest time between work shifts — “after an 11 hour shoot day,” with crewmembers including those in the camera department ending work by 6:30 p.m. The weekend before, the production had a 56-hour rest period, she said, and “no one was too tired to do their jobs.” Davis says she can point to time sheets that back up her claims.
Davis also wrote that camera crew members who reportedly walked off the set over work conditions were advocating for nicer hotels, not safer places to stay, and suggests they had a 35-minute commute. She also said these crewmembers “tried to renegotiate their contracts halfway through the show and hold the producers over a barrel by walking out.”
A source close to the production previously told The Hollywood Reporter that crew frustrations had been mounting over issues such as safety, delayed payment and the fact that after 12- to 14-hour shifts they had to drive an hour from the production’s Bonanza Creek Ranch set, near Santa Fe, back to Albuquerque, where most of them lived, rather than stay in local hotels.
According to Davis, Rust’s producers listened to concerns and addressed them. She says producers waived their fees to make the movie (a recent independent producer survey found more than 80 percent of respondents deferred their fee on a project, and about half did so on several recent projects) and several producers did not have backend deals. “These producers who supposedly don’t care about their crew have worked tirelessly alongside us,” she writes.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office has said that Baldwin pulled the trigger during rehearsal on set on Oct. 21, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza. Neither Baldwin, nor assistant director Dave Halls, who handed the weapon to Baldwin, were aware the gun contained live rounds, according to a search warrant affidavit.
The set had many safety meetings, Davis wrote, sometimes several per day, and the film’s assistant director — who, along with armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and Baldwin are the “primary focus” of the investigation, the sheriff has said — “never seemed flippant about safety.” She writes, “Am I angry with him? Yes. But I won’t jump on the bandwagon and pretend that he was uncaring about our safety the whole way through.”
In Davis’ view, the shooting was due to a failure in gun safety, and she says that she will fight to never have live guns on set, to improve gun safety and to hold armorers to “higher standards.”
The fatal shooting on Rust came just days after the major crew union, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), had reached a tentative agreement with Hollywood studios over a new three-year contract, averting what would have been an unprecedented strike. During the months of stalled negotiations that preceded the deal, crewmembers became increasingly vocal about long working hours, a lack of rest periods and, for some roles, low wages.
The union has said that it procured 10-hour turnaround times for members and 54- and 32-hour weekend rest periods for five- and six-day work weeks, respectively, as well as higher meal penalties and higher wages for certain crafts in the tentative agreement. However, some union members are still unhappy with the deal and plan on voting “no” in an upcoming ratification vote, whose date still has yet to be announced.
Rebecca Keegan contributed to this story.
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