SANTA FE, N.M. — The assistant director who handed Alec Baldwin the gun that killed a cinematographer last week was booted from a 2019 film after a member of the film crew was wounded in an on-set gun incident, the film’s production company confirmed Monday.
Rocket Soul Studios told CNN on Monday that Dave Halls was removed immediately from the “Freedom’s Path” set after a gun “unexpectedly discharged” on set, injuring a sound crew member.
“Production did not resume filming until Dave was off site. An incident report was taken and filed at that time,” the company told the network, adding, “Upon wrapping production for the day, Dave Halls was officially terminated and given the specific reasons for his termination.”
The disclosure emerged as producers of Baldwin’s movie officially halted filming, and court records showed that investigators seized more than two dozen items from the set on the day after “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was slain.
Meanwhile, three “Freedom’s Path” crew members, who asked not to be identified by name, told CNN that the mishap involved a 19th-century-style muzzle-loading rifle unexpectedly firing during a scene, “resulting in a boom operator suffering inner ear injuries due to the sound of the explosion.”
In an email statement to The Associated Press, a “Freedom’s Path” producer confirmed Halls’ firing from the 2019 production, reiterating the film’s stoppage until the assistant director was removed from the set. The “Freedom’s Path” producer, who asked not to be identified by name, is the second film professional in as many days to raise concerns about Halls’ safety record.
Maggie Goll, a prop maker and licensed pyrotechnician, said in a statement issued Sunday that she filed an internal complaint with the executive producers of Hulu’s “Into the Dark” series over Halls’ behavior. Goll then told the AP by phone that Halls disregarded safety protocols for weapons and pyrotechnics and tried to continue filming after the supervising pyrotechnician, who was diabetic, lost consciousness on set.
In a weekend email sent to “Rust” crew members, the movie’s production team confirmed that work on the western has been suspended at least until the death investigation is complete, noting that it is working with law enforcement and conducting its own internal safety review. The production company is also offering grief counseling.
Goll told the AP that the fatal “Rust” shooting is only the latest example of a “bigger conversation about safety on set and what we are trying to achieve with that culture” that figured prominently in recent contract negotiations between a union that represents film and TV workers and a major producers’ group.
“This situation is not about Dave Halls. ... It’s in no way one person’s fault,” Goll said.
Rocket Soul Studios confirmed to CNN that a new assistant director as well as a new armorer were hired “for the duration of principal photography” for “Freedom’s Path,” noting that “(Halls) was very remorseful for the events and understood the reasons he was being terminated.”
Meanwhile, the email to crew members suggested that work on “Rust” could resume at some point.
“Although our hearts are broken, and it is hard to see beyond the horizon, this is, at the moment, a pause rather than an end,” the email read.
-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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