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Fatal shooting involving Alec Baldwin highlights the risks of a rushed film production

Rust shooting Alec Baldwin
Posted at 4:38 AM, Oct 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-29 07:37:00-04

The fatal shooting by Alec Baldwin on a movie set has put a microscope on an often-unseen corner of the film industry where critics say the pursuit of profit can lead to unsafe working conditions.

With a budget of around $7 million, the Western "Rust" was no micro-budget indie. The previous best-picture winner at the Academy Awards, "Nomadland," was made for less.

But the New Mexico set where Baldwin shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins had inexperienced crew members, apparent safety lapses and a serious labor dispute.

Last weekend, The Associated Press reported that several crew members on set had raised safety concerns about the production and that seven crew members even walked off set hours before the shooting.

The Los Angeles Times has reported that Baldwin's stunt double had accidentally fired two live rounds on set five days before the fatal shooting after being told the gun he was holding did not contain live ammunition.

According to CNN, Dave Halls, the film's assistant director, has faced complaints on other film sets for his disregard for safety protocols.

Even the sheriff investigating the fatal shooting admitted earlier this week that he felt officials on the set showed "some complacency" regarding gun safety.

For some in the business, the failures reflect larger issues in the fast-evolving movie industry.

"Production is exploding, corners are being cut even more, and budgets are being crunched down even more," Mynette Louie, a veteran independent film producer, told The Associated Press. "Something's got to give."