Rust Movie Productions denies OSHA wrongdoing allegations in New Mexico
Rust Movie Productions LLC, the company behind the low-budget western in which Halyna Hutchins was killed, has denied allegations made by the New Mexico Office of Occupational Health and Safety that led to a $136 fine. $793.
The company behind the movie “Rust” says in a folder to the New Mexico Department of the Environment’s Office of Occupational Health and Safety on Tuesday afternoon that the sanctions imposed on him were not warranted.
The company listed several other defenses, including that it relied on trade contractors like gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez Reed, that it was not the controlling employer at the yard, and that any violation of regulations was caused by “inevitable employee misconduct”.
A gunsmith’s responsibilities are to “ensure that no live ammunition is on site – as expressly prohibited by (Rust Movie Productions) and Bonanza Creek Ranch – or to ensure that no live ammunition is is inadvertently acquired or loaded into a firearm”. company wrote in its complaint.
Representatives for Rust Movie Productions and Gutierrez Reed did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The New Mexico state agency in April imposed its maximum fine on producers after actor Alec Baldwin accidentally fired live ammunition during a rehearsal last fall, fatally shooting the cinematographer Hutchins and hurting director Joel Souza.
The murder shocked the film industry and led to pressure to regulate guns on movie sets. The agency accused production managers of “pure indifference” to employee safety and said management knew gun safety procedures were not being followed on set.
In its 21-page response, Rust Movie Productions denied being indifferent to employee safety, said live ammunition was expressly prohibited on set, and it was communicated to everyone on site.
“Specialty independent contractors have been engaged specifically to train individuals in firearm safety and operation, procure blank and dummy firearms and ammunition, safely manage the transfer and use of firearms on site, and hold safety meetings on days when the firing of blanks was expected to occur,” Rust Productions said in its filing. It noted that blanks were used for 8 of the 11 production days.
The company denied that Gutierrez Reed was ever instructed to focus less on her gunsmith responsibilities, or that the cast or stunt crew did not receive the necessary training, saying all cast and crew of stuntmen had received firearms training.
Gutierrez Reed alleged in text exchanges with production that she had been stretched into the two jobs she was hired for: gunsmith in charge of firearms and gun safety, as well as assistant to the props master Sarah Zachry, who was in charge of the props used to replicate 1880s Kansas on the film set south of Santa Fe, NM
The company said Gutierrez Reed’s prop duties were secondary and were offered as a way to supplement revenue on days when the guns were not in use.
Rust Movie Productions (RMP) also said that union representatives were always present on set and were involved in disagreements with the crew over living conditions during filming. According to The Times’ timeline of events, camera operator Lane Luper and other members of the ‘Rust’ film crew left production the morning Hutchins died amid concerns over safety issues. on set, including two previous accidental firearm discharges that had occurred on set.
In her response to the state agency, RMP said Luper quit because the company denied her request to be paid for housing, which she said was unnecessary and not required by the union.
The company said it had not received a union complaint about gun safety issues and added that two accidental blank firings occurred “at the very hands of people supposed to handle firearms. with blank ammunition on the board”.
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