By Alex Green, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter
Alec Baldwin has shared an open letter written by members of the cast and crew of Rust, denying the production was a “chaotic, dangerous and exploitative workplace”.
Signed by more than 20 individuals, it claims the public narrative surrounding the incident, that the production was being mismanaged, is “inadequate” and distracts from “what matters the most” – the memory of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Hollywood star Baldwin, 63, accidentally shot and killed Hutchins, 42, when a gun he was holding went off during filming for the Western film in New Mexico.
The director of the movie was also wounded, and authorities are investigating what happened.
Baldwin, who was also a producer on Rust, shared the letter on Wednesday, only commenting: “From some of the crew of RUST.”
The letter featured signatures from members of the casting, camera, props, special effects, grips, hair, make-up, location and medical teams.
It read: “We, the undersigned, believe the public narrative surrounding our workplace tragedy to be inadequate and wish to express a more accurate account of our experience.”
The letter said “it is common to work on unprofessional or hectic productions to gain experience and credits”, but that Rust was not one of those.
“Rust was professional,” it said.
“We do acknowledge that no set is perfect, and like any production, Rust had areas of brilliance and areas that were more challenging.
“While we stand firmly with our unions and strongly support the fight for better working conditions across our industry, we do not feel that this set was a representation of the kind of conditions our unions are fighting against.
“We do support any and all efforts to make film sets safer to work on for all cast, crew and working animals.
“The descriptions of Rust as a chaotic, dangerous and exploitative workplace are false and distract from what matters the most: the memory of Halyna Hutchins, and the need to find modern alternatives to outdated industry firearm and safety practices.”
Shortly before the shooting, a number of staff walked off set in protest at the working conditions.
Addressing this, the group added: “While it is true that a few crew members quit prior to the accident, the vast majority of us remained, never feeling the need to protest or quit.
“We were enjoying our workplace. Those disgruntled few do not represent the views of all of us.”
They described the working hours and wages as “fair and consistent with expectations”, and said the reported 12-hour shifts were typical of film sets.
Referring to the work of the producers, they added: “As a crew, we have no authority as to what happens ‘above the line’. That is the work of the producers.
“But, in our experience, the producers and production managers were supportive of our efforts.
“They were on set daily, and engaged with the crew, sharing in the same creative process.
“We felt that we were not just working for them, but with them. They availed themselves during safety meetings to discuss any and all safety or other concerns.”
Production on Rust has been halted indefinitely while authorities investigate the shooting.