Makers of Rust agree to pay $100k fine over cinematographer’s film set death

US News

The production company behind the film Rust has agreed to pay a $100,000 fine to an occupational health and safety bureau following a fatal shooting on set.

The New Mexico Environment Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (OHSB) had issued a $136,796 (£114,457) fine, the maximum allowable by state law, last April.

It was later reduced to $100,000 (£83,705) under the settlement.

It came after a prop gun held by Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin opened fire and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on set in October 2021.

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Under the settlement, which is pending approval, the bureau downgraded its claim from “wilful-serious” to a “serious” violation.

Melina Spadone, senior counsel at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and lawyer for Rust Movie Productions, said: “We are pleased to have entered into an agreement with OHSB, subject to approval, which downgrades the citation and reduces penalties.

“Our top priority has always been resuming production and completing this film so we can honour the life and work of Halyna Hutchins.

“Settling this case rather than litigating is how we can best move forward to achieve that goal.”

Producers recently announced that filming would resume in the US state of Montana later this spring.

The co-founders of the Yellowstone Filming Ranch, Richard Gray, Carter Boehm and Colin Davis, offered the venue to Rust Movie Productions, saying that the decision to finish the film had “deeply moved us”.

“We are honoured to play a role in the realisation of [Ms Hutchins’s] vision and to carry forward her inspiring legacy through championing this film,” they said in a joint statement.

Alec Baldwin pictured on set following the tragedy. Pic: Sante Fe Police
Image:
Alec Baldwin pictured on the set of Rust. Pic: Sante Fe Police

A number of original crew members will return to the project alongside director Joel Souza, with Bianca Cline reported to be joining in Ms Hutchins’s place as cinematographer.

Baldwin will remain in his starring role and as producer.

On Thursday, Baldwin pleaded not guilty to two charges of involuntary manslaughter over the death of Ms Hutchins.

The actor will next face a preliminary hearing at a date yet to be set, which will determine whether or not the case will go to trial.

Baldwin was charged by the Santa Fe District Attorney’s (DA’s) office last month over the fatal shooting of Ms Hutchins.

The first of the two charges brought against him can be referred to as involuntary manslaughter and requires proof of underlying negligence.

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The second charge is involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, which requires proof that there was more than simple negligence involved in a death.

The district attorney recently dropped a firearm enhancement to the charge, which would have made the crime punishable by a mandatory five years in jail.

Baldwin’s lawyers had argued that the enhancement was “unlawful” and accused the DA of “extraordinary” media briefings against him.

The actor’s legal team said that after the “legally erroneous” enhancement had been rescinded, their own motion to have the charge dropped was now “moot”.

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