COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – On October 21, 2020, actor Alec Baldwin was on set rehearsing for his new film, Rust when he was given a prop gun and was told it was safe to use. Baldwin fired the gun and it dislodged, killing Hutchins and injuring Souza. Columbus State University Assistant Professor Adam Bova said it takes preparation to avoid accidents on set.
“We’re artists, our job is to inspire, our job is to duplicate reality. Unfortunately, accidents do happen from time to time but this is an art and no one should have to worry about their life while they’re creating art,” Bova said.
Even though accidents can happen, there is a level of responsibility on set to ensure everyone’s safety.
“Every set is different, I’ve worked on sets with weapons before, specifically with prop guns. There are guns you can get that look like the real thing but they have no firing pin in them. There’s just almost no way those things can actually work. Often times they will modify real guns, there are stringent safety guidelines put in place by SAG-AFTRA (The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists). There are safety measures in place on sets even when you’re working in the independent market,” Bova said.
Bova told News 3 that while on set and working with weapons, he goes through a long list to ensure the weapon is properly handled and safe to use.
“First off I will ensure that it’s either a prop or I’ve completely unloaded myself. I will then take it and we usually call it a crew meeting and will at least show the department heads from the other departments on set that the weapon is completely empty. Show them the magazine, show them the barrel, let them have a chance to inspect that. As soon as that inspection is kind of done the weapon is declared safe at that point, only the actor who it’s assigned to or a designated crew member is allowed to touch those weapons,” Bova said.
Even though Bova wasn’t on the Rust movie set he said he’s unsure as to what could have gone wrong.
“Its hard to speak to what happened on the set of Rust without all of the details. A lot of stuff is coming out online and in other reports and everything with the AD with armor and I think it’s important to allow those investigations to continue and get all of the facts. I think this is part of a much larger issue within the film industry, for years now there has been a degrading quality of work environment on most film sets,” Bova said.
Bova said most employees on film sets experience longer than normal work hours.
“I have heard rumors of crew members camping out on set because they’re too afraid to drive home at the end of the day because they’re so exhausted. I’ve heard rumors of people not being able to get lunch, I think you know there could be some of that with what happened on the set of Rust. I think just overtaxed, overworked when you’re tired, when you’re stressed out, it’s easy to forget those details,” Bova said.
Bova is unsure how this tragic accident will affect the film industry.
“It’s hard to tell right now how much of an effect Rust is going to have and that accident is going got have on the film industry. I know that there are some petitions out there to completely ban weapons and guns on set. I think for a certain level of set that could potentially not be an issue, they have the CG budget to go ahead and do that all digitally. Yes, we have phenomenal skills where we could do that electronically in post-production, but there’s also having something in your hands that you’re physically interacting with changes how the actor performs. So, I think there may be a reevaluation of some of the union rules just to try and make sure something like this doesn’t happen again,” Bova said.