After cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot on the set of the film “Rust” in New Mexico during an October 2021 rehearsal, production was immediately halted.
But in the months since, Rust’s producers have stuck by the embattled western, hoping to resume filming, potentially in Southern California, as soon as early this year.
Matthew Hutchins, Halyna Hutchins’ widower, joined the production as executive producer in October as part of a wrongful death lawsuit involving Alec Baldwin and the other producers. Hutchins said the film’s completion was a “homage to Halyna’s final work.”
However, there are significant obstacles to resuming filming.
With Thursday’s announcement that charges are likely to be filed against Baldwin for accidentally firing a prop gun that killed Hutchins, questions have swirled about when, if ever, the film will be shot.
Here’s what we know about where production stands and what to expect in the future.
Where are the producers of the film?
When Halyna Hutchins’ family settled a wrongful death lawsuit against Baldwin and other “Rust” film producers in October, part of the deal was that the film would resume production.
With Matthew Hutchins, the cinematographer’s husband, as executive producer, it was announced that the western would resume in January 2023 with all of the original leads on board.
Hutchins’ producers and family members were excited for the film to resume production, a person close to the situation told The Times earlier this month – before the charges broke.
They see the project as a fitting tribute to Hutchins’ legacy, as a way to bring their cinematic vision of capturing scenic vistas of the New Mexico desert to the screen. They think it’s also important to the healing process of Matthew Hutchins and his and Halyna’s son Andros.
Completion of the film would not only pay tribute to the work of Hutchins, but the family could also have a financial stake in the film and benefit from its success. Full details of the settlement were not disclosed. Although it’s unclear if the film would be profitable, the filmmakers must complete the project in order to qualify for the New Mexico film tax incentive they applied for in mid-2021.
The film’s director, Joel Souza, signaled that he was also on board. He was injured by the same bullet that killed Hutchins.
How do the criminal charges complicate production?
The New Mexico Attorney’s Office announced on Thursday that it would charge Baldwin with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors also plan to file involuntary manslaughter charges against arms dealer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who loaded the gun.
Along with the indictments, which are expected to be filed later this month, New Mexico’s First Judicial Dist. atty Mary Carmack-Altwies, might impose pre-trial conditions this would prevent Baldwin from returning to the scene of the alleged crime, handling weapons on set, or contacting witnesses.
Baldwin served as producer and main cast member. Filming took place at Bonanza Creek Ranch outside of Santa Fe, NM
Melina Spadone, attorney for the “Rust” production, declined to comment on plans to resume filming or the filming location. Spadone previously told Variety that producers would not be returning to New Mexico to film considered shooting in California.
A potential roadblock from unions
The other hurdle could be union approval.
Films employing unionized directors or actors must be so-called union contract signatories, such as B. Directors Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA.
When the “Rust” production requested that the film continue shooting, the DGA initially refused permission, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Last March, the DGA urged its members to halt work on a new horror film being endorsed by one of Rust’s producers, Thomasville Pictures, citing safety concerns. The film was finally allowed to continue.
Over the next month, the union, which represents more than 19,000 members, formed a new committee to recommend and promote various safety measures.
It’s not clear if the unions will allow Rust to continue. Neither the DGA nor the SAG-AFTRA had an immediate statement.
What about the crew members of the film?
There are signs the production might also have trouble recruiting crews for the work.
In recent weeks, location managers for Rust have been recruiting crew members to resume filming — in the Los Angeles area rather than New Mexico — in late February and March.
The production company has faced some backlash online from under-the-line filmmakers who feel it would be inappropriate to resume production.
The Los Angeles Young Workers Group, a group of IATSE Local 600 members (the same union Hutchins is a member of), shared posts from crew members saying that filming for the film was scheduled to begin in Los Angeles in February. Some crew members encouraged others to decline the call.
The group said their stance was that each member of the venue “must decide for themselves what action to take when contacted by production.”
IATSE Local 600 had no immediate comment on its position regarding the recent “Rust” calls to crew members.
Hours before the fatal shooting on Oct. 21, 2021, half a dozen members of the film’s camera crew left the set. They cited long hours, long commutes and a lack of nearby housing, late pay and gun safety concerns, including a lack of gun inspections. Production was delayed that day as manufacturers hired unionized and non-union workers to replace them.