A collection of 200 prominent cinematographers joined together to sign a group statement calling for a ban on functional firearms on the sets of their projects.
The move comes in the wake of the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was shot and killed on the set of “Rust” when a gun being held by actor Alec Baldwin that he was informed as a “cold gun” somehow fired a live round.
The incident has sparked a huge conversation in show business regarding the use of real firearms on sets, regardless of whether or not they’re loaded with blanks or dummy rounds. Productions like ABC’s “The Rookie” have already stated that it will no longer allow real firearms on set.
Now, a collection of 200 cinematographers are taking things a step further by signing a pledge to refuse work on productions that involve the use of real firearms. In the open letter explaining the decision, the group directly references the death of Hutchins.
“Halyna Hutchins was an incredible rising cinematographer who passionately loved her job and cared about the images she created. She was a friend, a colleague, a part of our cinematography community. Her death on October 21, 2021 by a live firearm expelled on the set of the film ‘Rust’ was senseless, negligent and avoidable,” the statement reads.
“We are Halyna Hutchins’ fellow Directors of Photographer and we are vowing to not let her death be in vain. We are calling for immediate action from our union leadership, our producers and our lawmakers to affect unified change on our behalf: BAN all FUNCTIONAL FIREARMS on set.”
From there, the letter declares that those who signed it have therefore pledged to use alternatives like VFX rather than allow real firearms on their sets, regardless of what they’re loaded with.
“We vow to no longer knowingly work on projects using FUNCTIONAL FIREARMS for filming purposes. We vow to no longer put ourselves and our crew in these unnecessarily lethal situations. We have safe alternatives in VFX and NON-functional FIREARMS. We won’t wait for the industry to change. We have a duty to effect change within the industry ourselves,” the statement adds.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that major names in the cinematography world such as American Society of Cinematographers president Stephen Lighthill joined the call. Other noteworthy cinematographers who signed include Greig Fraser (“Dune”), M. David Mullen (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maise”l), Mandy Walker (“Mulan”), Rachel Morrison (“Black Panther”), Ed Lachman (“Carol”) and Alice Brooks (“In the Heights”).
“Halyna Hutchins was a spirited artist who we know would take action in this tragedy happened to a member of her cinematography community. Please honor her by singing the vow alongside us and by spreading her name,” the joint statement concludes.
The open letter echoes sentiments previously made in a Change.org petition that emerged shortly after Hutchins’ death that was started by filmmaker Bandar Albuliwi that called on Baldwin and others in the industry to use their influence to affect change when it comes to firearms on movie and TV sets.
Speaking in an impromptu press conference with photographers last week, the 63-year-old actor addressed the issue of firearms in film productions. Baldwin said he is “extremely interested” in limiting the use of firearms on set following the fatal incident.
“But remember, how many bullets have been fired in films and TV shows in the last 75 years. This is America,” Baldwin said at the time. “How many bullets have gone off in movies and on TV sets before? How many, billions in the last 75 years? And nearly all of it without incident. So what has to happen now is, we have to realize that when it does go wrong and it’s this horrible, catastrophic thing, some new measures have to take place. Rubber guns, plastic guns, no live — no real armaments on set. That’s not for me to decide. It’s urgent that you understand I’m not an expert in this field, so whatever other people decide is the best way to go in terms of protecting people’s safety on film sets, I’m all in favor of and I will cooperate with that in any way that I can.”