The settlement, which would allow production to resume on Rust, sparked complicated feelings among the film’s crew, with some saying they would not return to the project while others supported the decision.
The producers announced on October 5 that they plan to resume production in January, more than a year after Alec Baldwin shot and killed cinematographer Helena Hutchins while preparing for a scene at a location near Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The producers – including Baldwin – settled a death lawsuit brought by Matthew, Hutchins’ widower, and said they intended to complete the film in honor of Hutchins’ memory.
The lawsuit alleged that production had cut corners to save money, and endanger the crew. Several crew members said they felt unsafe and had no intention of returning.
“I don’t want to do anything at all,” said one crew member, who asked not to be identified. “It was painful across the board.”
But other crew members said the production wasn’t as serious as it was filmed.
“They didn’t cut corners – they did everything right,” said Aaron Ward, who did the location work on the film. “It was just a strange accident, in my opinion.”
Asked if he supports resuming production, Ward said, “I support it all. I say, give the proceeds to the family and have a field day.”
The attorney general continues to investigate, and may bring criminal charges in the case. Three other civil cases are still pending.
The New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Review Commission is also expected to hold an eight-day hearing on identified safety violations in April. The production defies the state agency’s conclusion that it violated firearms industry rules and demonstrated “a clear indifference” to ensuring safety. Production is also battling a $136,793 fine.
“The whole thing is challenging, complicated and messy,” said another crew member, who asked not to be identified for fear of a nondisclosure agreement. “A lot of people around me were really hurt by those events.”
If asked, he said he didn’t think he could go back to his job.
“There’s kind of a worry about how I’m going to respond emotionally to being in that space again,” he said. “I don’t know I’m going to do my job well.”
Scott Rasmussen, an Albuquerque-based gunsmith, turned down an offer to work on “Rust” last year. Since the settlement was announced, he said he has spoken to at least eight other crew members.
“No one likes the idea at all,” he said. “That’s not how to honor Helena—going back to the movie and ending it with the person who killed her. Connecting Alec Baldwin to the movie anymore is an insult to her memory. Everyone she’s talked to won’t act on it.”
The crew member who was shocked by the production said that the idea of completing the film made her uncomfortable.
“They keep using this whole scandal for propaganda – which is what Hollywood does all the time,” she said. “You don’t sit right with me.”
But another member of the crew said Matthew Hutchins’ decision to participate as executive producer meant a lot to him.
“I think he’s doing it for all the right reasons,” said one crew member. “At a minimum, this project is the dream his wife was working on, and until the time of the accident, we had a good looking movie. If Matt wanted to make the movie, and if Alec was willing to continue making the movie, I think we should make the movie.”
Ed Pinkard, one of the animal herders who worked with the horses on the film, said he also supported completing the project.
“I’d like to see them finish,” he said, “because I feel like Halena would like it.” “It may bring a sense of closure.”
Jazz Tangcay contributed to this story.