On Tuesday, “Rust” producers announced that they are planning to appeal a ruling passed down by the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau, which determined that there were numerous “willful and serious” safety violations on the set of the Western film.
The New Mexico Environment Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau determined that “Rust” producers demonstrated a “plain indifference” to the welfare of the cast and crew. On Tuesday, Rust Movie Productions leveled a few accusations of their own against the OSHB.
‘Rust’ Producers Allege That OSHA Is ‘Unequipped’ To Determine Safety Violations
Although the OHSB reviewed hundreds of documents and interviewed the cast and crew to get as accurate a picture as possible of what really happened on the “Rust” set last October, Rust Movie Productions filed a note of contest on Tuesday.
As per The Hollywood Reporter, “Rust” producers allege that the New Mexico Environment Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau is “unequipped” to make determinations about safety violations on movie sets.
“The supposed ‘fire extinguisher’ NMED claims should have been inspected and maintained is not a real fire extinguisher – it is a special effects device used to create fake smoke,” reads the court filing. “The attempt to extend the application of a fire extinguisher regulation to a special effects device shows their misunderstanding of the film industry.”
Last month, the OHSB tried to get to the bottom of why live ammunition was introduced on the “Rust” set. They also found that “Rust” producers failed to train their crew on how to properly handle firearms. They slapped producers with the highest level citation and maximum fine allowable by state law, which amounted to $136,793 dollars.
‘Rust’ Producers Are Fighting Back Against Safety Violation Citations
Rust Movie Productions have also asserted that they are not responsible for “supervising” the film set and are not the ones that oversee the maintenance or loading of weapons on set.
“The law properly permits producers to delegate such critical functions as firearm safety to experts in that field and does not place such responsibility on producers whose expertise is in arranging financing and contracting for the logistics of filming,” says the filing.
“Rust” producers insisted that they followed all required safety protocols on set and addressed the three alleged incidents where a gun misfired on set before the fatal shooting.
“The first was not a misfire at all and did not involve a firearm – it was a harmless noise from a special effects ‘popper.’ The other two involved discharges of blank rounds,” they alleged. “Contrary to NMED’s statements, none of the ‘misfires’ violated firearm safety protocols on the set and appropriate corrective actions were taken, including safety briefings of cast and crew.”
No Criminal Charges Have Been Filed At This Time
Rust Movie Productions added that all actors who were holding firearms – including Alec Baldwin – received “sufficient” training and that assistant directors had been instructed to hold safety meetings on all mornings when firearms were going to be used. Producers allege that there was a safety meeting on the morning of the fatal shooting.
They also argued against statements made by armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who has been vocal about her criticism of the way production was handled on the “Rust” set. Their appeal alleges, contrary to her statements, that she always had time to inspect all firearms and ammunition that was used on set, although she insists that she does not know how live bullets ended up on a movie set, or in the gun that Baldwin was holding.
“Rust” producers stated that her gun safety duties “always took precedence over any responsibilities related to props.” They highlighted a specific message from costume designer Terese Davis to property master Sarah Zachary, which said that Gutierrez-Reed “didn’t do her job properly” and that she “had plenty of time to do so because we had extra time that morning while camera was f—ing off.”
In that message, Davis wrote, “So she can say what she wants about training time and all that bull—- but it’s not why she killed Halyna.”
It remains to be seen if Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or actor Alec Baldwin will be criminally charged in the fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins. The Santa Fe police department received Baldwin’s cell phone records earlier this year. According to the Santa Fe sheriff’s department, the investigation is still open and ongoing.