Fellow Director Shares Anger Over ‘Rust’ Fatal Shooting; Says Was Preventable

As the investigation into the tragic death of Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film Rust continues, many are wondering how such an unfathomable accident could have taken place. One person who feels the same is Queen Sugar director, Ava DuVernay. DuVernay says Hutchins’ death was preventable. She also questions why anyone chooses to use real guns as props on movie sets anymore. 

Halyna Hutchins
‘Rust’ cinematographer Halyna Hutchins attends the 2018 Sundance Film Festival kickoff party | Mat Hayward/Getty Images for AMC Networks

Ava DuVernay explains why she doesn’t use real guns on set as props

DuVernay says it’s a choice production members are given whether or not to use a real gun on set. She reflects on the defining moment that she knew she would not choose the latter.

“We haven’t had live guns on our sets,” she told the hosts of The Breakfast Club in a recent interview. “The last time we had a real gun on the set was Selma. That was a set that I didn’t control because, at that time, I had no power to produce. It was safe with three armorers, everything was done according to code.”

Source: YouTube

Related: Director James Gunn Reveals His Frustrations About the Alec Baldwin ‘Rust’ Set Tragedy: ‘People Weren’t Following Safety Protocols’

DuVernay says she learned that she would be somewhat responsible for ensuring the gun was safe to use. Being unfamiliar with guns made her uncomfortable. 

“But the reason why I don’t have real guns on my set, the proper protocol, the director has to check the gun,” she explains. “And so, the armorer has it, the first AD has it everybody looks at it and they bring it over to me to look at and I remember looking at it going, ‘I don’t even know what I’m looking at’…I had to depend on other people to tell me, ‘Ava, it’s safe.’ And I don’t depend on stuff like that. I said never again. Either I’m going to learn about guns, which I’m not, or we’re just not going to have guns.”

The ‘Queen Sugar’ director says the ‘Rust’ incident was preventable

DuVernay says the use of real guns on set is not necessary. “There are fake guns that look like real guns,” she says. “It does not have a real chamber or any mechanism in it. You can have a gun that looks like a gun on the outside and it has no mechanism on the inside. Not even for a blank. There’s no reason to do it.”

Source: YouTube

Related: Halyna Hutchins’ ‘Rust’ Camera Crew Protested for Safer Work Conditions Morning of Fatal Alec Baldwin Prop Gun Accident

With her own experience of using both gun options as props, and knowing the safety protocol in place, she’s stunned by the outcome of the Rust production. “This woman, literally shot in the stomach, in a rehearsal, for people who fail to the job that keeps each other safe” she explains, nearly crying. 

DuVernay says the incident was 100% preventable had they followed the proper protocol or not used a real gun, to begin with. “People were wrong and unprofessional,” she says. “That should have never happened. There were multiple people on that set. That was just flagrant, ignorant behavior.”

Ava DuVernay says film sets are the ‘safest place’

DuVernay believes the industry will be forever changed by this unfortunate incident. Furthermore, she notes there hasn’t been an incident on set in 20 years that involved a real gun going off. 

“Do you know how much film and TV is made in 20 years? That’s how safe we are,” she adds. “One of the safest places to be in the world is a film set. Whether it’s for COVID, whether it’s for anything going on.”

DuVernay equates a film set to a small town. She explains that there’s literally every position working on a film set.