A cinematographer has become the last person to die in an accident on a Hollywood film set – with film production companies likely to review their safety measures in the wake of the tragedy.
Halyna Hutchins, 42, was killed when actor Alec Baldwin discharged a gun on the set of the western Rust.
Here we take a look at the security measures in place on US film sets and some of the high-profile deaths that have sent shockwaves through the industry in the past.
What safety measures are in place when firearms are used on US film sets?
When firearms are used for a scene, there will always be a gunsmith, security guard and stunt coordinator on set, two filmmakers told The Conversation.
Christopher Gist and Sarah Mayberry, who recently finished filming the psychological thriller Darklands, used real guns but fired blanks when they wanted to recreate a shot.
Blanks are made from paper, plastic, felt or cotton wadding. However, they can still cause many injuries when shot at close range or handled improperly.
The filmmakers said they fired in a “very controlled situation, working with a very experienced crew”.
Mr Gist and Ms Mayberry said firearms, whether counterfeit or replica, are supplied by a gunsmith.
They wrote: “All the protocols surrounding the use of firearms are well established. Everything on the set around a firearm should be treated with a lot of caution… all the actors and the team are briefed. times on security. The police are always informed, because are adjacent neighbors to the filming location. “
The filmmakers pointed out how shots can also be recreated using visual effects, a much safer method than firing real or blank bullets.
What other security measures should be taken into account?
The films have a safety officer who will take into account such things as trip hazards and road safety when locations are chosen for a production, Mr Gist and Ms Mayberry said.
When production crews wish to film on public land, the local authority will request a risk assessment – this can specify where people will park, where the toilets will be located, and where the equipment will be. It will also take into account potential issues, such as what will happen if a particular stunt goes wrong.
The No Film School, a global community of filmmakers and video producers, advises its members to be “firefighter compliant” by identifying escape routes from buildings in the event of a fire on set.
They also advise filmmakers to “locate and separate the circuits” to avoid potential dangers from a blown fuse.
The No Film School also advises on simple things – like organizing cables and wires so people don’t trip over.
Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza and everyone involved in the “Rust” incident. No one should ever be killed by a gun on a movie set. Period. ??
– Brandon Bruce Lee (@brandonblee) 22 October 2021
What other fatal accidents have there been?
In one of the most high-profile deaths, Brandon Lee, son of iconic martial arts star Bruce Lee, died while filming a set scene for the movie The Crow in 1993.
A blank shell fired from a firearm had propelled a dummy cartridge of the same weapon. Lee died after he hit him in the abdomen with the same force as if it were a live bullet.
Shannon Lee, the tragic actor’s sister, tweeted after Hutchins’ death to say that “no one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set”.
Lee, who now maintains an official Twitter account for his brother, wrote in an article: “Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza and everyone involved in the incident on ‘Rust’.
“No one should ever be killed by a gun on a movie set. Full stop.”
In 1984, actor Jon-Erik Hexum was pretending to play Russian roulette with a .44 Magnum on the set of the television series Cover Up when he shot himself in the head with a blank pistol and is dead. He had apparently been oblivious to the potential danger beforehand.
Outside of gun-related incidents, three actors – including two children – were killed on the set of Twilight Zone: The Movie when special effects explosions caused a helicopter to crash in 1982.
In 1985, stuntman Art Scholl died while filming Top Gun. Scholl was performing an aerial stunt when he lost control of the plane and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. He and the plane were never found.
In August 2017, stuntwoman Joi Harris was killed on the set of Deadpool 2 in a motorcycle accident.