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Ukrainian cinematographer killed by prop gun

Oct 30, 2021 | Featured

Probe called to investigate accidental shooting of Halyna Hutchins

NP-UN with Files from RFE/RL and Wikipedia.

An investigation into the fatal shooting of Ukrainian-born cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on a movie set is focusing on the specialist in charge of weapons and the assistant director who handed the gun to actor Alec Baldwin before he fired it.

Hutchins, 42, was struck in the chest and died shortly after the incident in the southwestern U.S. state of New Mexico on October 21, while director Joel Souza, 48, was wounded and briefly hospitalized.

Souza spoke out about the shooting for the first time on October 23, saying he was “gutted” by the loss of Hutchins.

“She was kind, vibrant, incredibly talented, fought for every inch, and always pushed me to be better,” he told Deadline, an entertainment news website.

The shooting on the set of the movie Rust during a rehearsal at a ranch near the city of Santa Fe raised questions about gun-safety protocols for film sets.

Some details of the incident emerged in court documents submitted by the Santa Fe County sheriff’s office to obtain a search warrant.

The documents said assistant director Dave Halls, who handed the gun to Baldwin, called out “cold gun,” indicating the weapon had no live ammunition.

The assistant director did not know the gun contained live rounds, a detective with the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department said in the documents.

Baldwin handed the gun to Hannah Gutierrez-Reed — the movie’s weapons master — immediately after the shooting, and she removed a spent casing and handed it and the gun to deputies when they arrived.

Hutchins (née Androsovych) was born in 1979 in Horodets, Zhytomyr Oblast, but grew up in the Russian city of Murmansk, on a Soviet military base in the Arctic, where her father served in the Soviet Navy. She called herself an “army brat”.

According to film historian Jim Hemphill, she first became interested in film while living at the military base. She attended National Agricultural University and then Kyiv National University, first studying economics before changing her study to journalism. Hutchins graduated there with a degree in international journalism and worked on documentary films as an investigative journalist in Eastern Europe. She met her husband Matthew, who is American, while in Kyiv. They have a son.

Hutchins moved to Los Angeles to focus on filmmaking, taking on roles in production and fashion photography. In Los Angeles, she met Bob Primes, a cinematographer who encouraged her to apply to the American Film Institute Conservatory, where he was a teacher. She was accepted and began studying there in 2013 for a two-year master’s program, which she graduated from in 2015.

In 2018, she was one of the first eight female cinematographers participating in the Fox DP Lab program, which was established to provide greater opportunities for women cinematographers.

In 2019, she was named one of the “10 up-and-coming directors of photography who are making their mark” by American Cinematographer. She was director of photography on Adam Egypt Mortimer’s 2020 film Archenemy. She is also credited for work on the films Darlin’ (2019), Blindfire (2020) and The Mad Hatter (2021).

Hutchins supported the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the labor union that represents Hollywood’s crew and technical workers and planned to strike over dangerous working conditions days before her death.

Following Hutchins’s death, teachers and friends of hers at the American Film Institute established the Halyna Hutchins Memorial Scholarship Fund dedicated to supporting the education of female cinematographers. Hutchins’s widower Matt Hutchins endorsed the project and asked for anyone wishing to honor Hutchins’ memory to donate to the fund.

Baldwin, 63, is known for his roles in the television series 30 Rock, the 1990 movie The Hunt for Red October, and his impression of former President Donald Trump on the television sketch show Saturday Night Live.

He has cooperated with investigators and no charges have been filed.

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