Bryan W. Carpenter believes the tragic death of Halyna Hutchins reveals an ongoing problem in Hollywood.
Authorities are investigating after confirming that a prop firearm discharged by Alec Baldwin while producing and starring in the Western film "Rust" killed the cinematographer and wounded the director.
Santa Fe County Sheriff’s officials said Hutchins, 42, and Joel Souza were shot on the rustic film set in the desert on the southern outskirts of Santa Fe. Hutchins was airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where she was pronounced dead by medical personnel, the sheriff’s department said. Souza, 48, was taken by ambulance to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center where he has since been released. Production has been halted.
"We all know that movie sets are very hectic, so following safety protocol becomes even more paramount at that point," the weapons armorer told Fox News. "There’s no reason a live round should ever be within any distance of a movie set."
Carpenter is the founder and president of New Orleans-based Dark Thirty Film Services, LLC, which has been involved with several high-profile projects over the years, including "The Expendables," "Bad Country," "NCIS: New Orleans," "Queen of the South," and "22 Jump Street" among others.
"The primary role of an armorer on the set is to maintain the safety of the firearms being used," he explained. "That's the most important thing. The secondary responsibilities are to work with the talent and make sure they look correct while using the firearm while filming. We also work with the director to make sure the shots line up properly and safe distances occur."
"I have worked on some lower budget shows, but I pick and choose the ones I work on and I know the crews are good and safe," he shared. "You need to work with good quality studios, production offices and prop masters who follow safety protocol properly."
Once a weapons armorer reviews the script, Carpenter said the appropriate firearms that complement the time period or character are ordered from reputable "prop houses" in the United States. Whenever they’re being used, multiple safety checks are required.
"You check them to make sure they’re all clear," he said. "You’re checking for blank rounds. There should never be a thought that there’s a live round in there. When you’re checking for blank rounds, you’re always looking for the possibility of anything else being there. You lock the weapons in the safe when they’re not in use and they must stay there. Those guns cannot be used for anything else. I always prep what I’m going to be using the next day in the safe. I separate everything and keep it locked. And above all, every time you open the safe, you check them."
"You can never have too many checks," he said. "If you think you’ve checked too much, check again. No one touches those weapons or uses them for anything else. The weapons only come out of the safe when it’s time to use them for a scene. And right before it’s handed to the talent, there’s a verification process. You make sure there are no obstructions in the barrel and that the cylinders, the chambers are clear. At a minimum, there should be two people present to verify that the weapon is in the condition that you say it is."
Problems were already plaguing the "Rust" production before Baldwin, 63, fired the fatal shot. Hours before, a camera crew for the movie walked off the job to protest conditions and production issues that included safety concerns.
Disputes began almost from the start in early October and culminated with seven crew members walking off several hours before Hutchins was killed. The crew members had expressed their discontent with matters that ranged from safety procedures to their housing accommodations, according to one of those who left.
At a rehearsal on the film set, the gun Baldwin used was one of three that an armorer had set on a cart outside the building, according to court records. An assistant director, Dave Halls, grabbed a prop gun and handed it to Baldwin, indicating incorrectly that the weapon didn’t carry live rounds by yelling "cold gun."
Carpenter said he’s been vocal over the years about the need for actors to attend safety training when handling weapons on set.
"It’s a dollars and cents thing," he said. "They don’t want to spend the time bringing the personnel in to do it. They don’t want to spend the time paying the actor to have to come out and go through a training class and then have to bring ... (Read more)
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