Rust Shooting Reportedly Occurred From A Distance Of Just Two Feet

As the film world continues to reel from the tragic events that took place on the set of "Rust" a little over a week ago, Santa Fe County authorities have been conducting an investigation in order to understand how the accidental shooting could've occurred in the first place. Every sobering update points toward multiple levels of negligence that ultimately resulted in actor Alec Baldwin firing the shot that injured director Joel Souza and killed director of photography Halyna Hutchins during rehearsals for a key scene in the Western. Questions remain as to which individual(s) will ultimately be held responsible when the investigation is completed, but it's increasingly clear that several breakdowns had to occur for any crew members — let alone the director, cinematographer, and star of the production — to be put in such a dangerous position.

The Los Angeles Times has published a harrowing, in-depth timeline of events leading up to and taking place in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the details of which reveal a startling disregard for established safety regulations and protocols on film sets. Taken from the testimonies of anonymous crewmembers who were present on the day of filming, the account paints a damning picture of severely lax protocols, mistreatment of crew, and improper priorities on the part of management. The report quotes Lane Luper, the A-camera first assistant on the production who said that, "It always felt like the budget was more important than crew members. Everything was about the schedule and the budget."

On top of the many red flags concerning producer inexperience and on-set safety concerns even before the incident – including the fact that the weapon should have been loaded with only a dummy round rather than a live bullet — the report indicates that Baldwin, Souza, and Hutchins were all located within only two feet of the discharging firearm. As indicated by The New York Times, crew are typically required to maintain a distance of at least 20 feet from a firing weapon in most productions. It remains to be seen how this new information will factor into the ongoing investigation, but it may be yet another example of how this tragedy could have been avoided in the first place.

Rust and Workplace Safety

Of course, this horrific incident and the stomach-churning revelations in its wake come during an increased focus on the working conditions of below-the-line crewmembers on film sets. The reports that many of the camera crew walked off the "Rust" set hours before the fatal shooting only highlights the ongoing concern of prioritizing health, safety, and a mutually productive work environment over anything else. Perhaps anticipating the obvious narrative that would come to the forefront as a result of this incident, the production company behind "Rust" released a statement on the day of the shooting saying that:

"The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company. Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down. We will continue to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and offer mental health services to the cast and crew during this tragic time."

As more and more details come to light in the days and weeks after the shooting, it will be left to the authorities in charge of the investigation to conclude whether this statement truly reflects what happened during the production of "Rust."