A deadly accident on a movie set in New Mexico has left some industry insiders speechless.
It happened on the set of the new movie “Rust” staring Alec Baldwin, who is also a producer.
Santa Fe authorities said the film's director of photography Halyna Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was injured after Baldwin fired the prop gun.
While the exact circumstances surrounding the accident are unknown, Clayton Brown, a filmmaker and assistant professor at Northwestern University said a plethora of safety measures are followed on sets involving prop guns.
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“There’s an armorer who’s responsible for all the weapons, there’s a prop master and there’s a safety officer,” said Brown. “If an actor is pointing the gun near the camera or at the camera, all the personnel leave and it’s just the camera there.”
Clayton said humans are never supposed to be in the line of fire, even with blank rounds being used.
“It’s just hard to fathom how that could have happened,” said Brown. “America is a particularly enthusiastic gun country. Filmmakers often feel the need to add verisimilitude and reality to these scenes.”
David Lombardo, founder of Safer USA Consulting Group, said prop guns that shoot blank rounds still use gunpowder.
“The energy is there. The gunpowder is there,” said Lombardo. “Let’s be realistic… when you’re shooting a movie, it has to be dramatic. It is not uncommon to put in a lot of gunpowder.”
He added that the residue released from a prop gun can still “cause damage” if in close proximity of the gun when it’s discharged. This has caused deadly accidents on movie sets in the past, he said.
IATSE Local 44 confirmed to NBC News that an email was sent to its members that described a "live single round" being fired from the gun involved in the accident but as of Friday night, Santa Fe authorities wouldn’t confirm that.
“There’s really no reason why a live round should be anywhere near a movie set,” said Brown.
As of Friday evening, Alec Baldwin has not been charged in the incident. In a tweet, he said he is cooperating in the police investigation.