Cinematographer Killed on Set Was 'Building a Reputation'

Halyna Hutchins, 42, described as a rising star
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2021 8:54 AM CDT
Cinematographer Killed on Set Was 'Building a Reputation'
This aerial video image provided by KOAT 7 News, shows Santa Fe County Sheriff's Officers responding to the scene of a fatal accidental shooting at a Bonanza Creek Ranch movie set near Santa Fe, NM, on Thursday.   (KOAT 7 News via AP)

The cinematographer tragically killed Thursday when Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the set of the movie Rust was about to get her big break, according to friends. Halyna Hutchins, named one of American Cinematographer's Rising Stars of 2019, was shot around 1:50pm local time while working as director of photography for the film shoot at New Mexico's Bonanza Creek Ranch. The 42-year-old died of her injuries at a hospital, per CNN. Her last Instagram post from Wednesday shows her riding on horseback. "One of the perks of shooting a western is you get to ride horses on your day off," reads the caption.

Born in Ukraine in 1979, Hutchins was raised on a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle "surrounded by reindeer and nuclear submarines," according to her website. She studied journalism before going to work on documentaries, which is how she discovered her love of filmmaking. She then moved to Los Angeles and attended the American Film Institute, from which she graduated in 2015. She received credits on 49 film, TV, and other titles, including the 2020 indie film Archenemy, starring Joe Manganiello, and the BET+ original series A Luv Tale: The Series, per CNN and the Hollywood Reporter.

"An incredible talent & great person. I can't believe this could happen in this day and age … gunfire from a prop gun could kill a crew member? What a horrible tragedy," tweeted Manganiello. "It's hard out here for women cinematographers and this was a HUGE opportunity for her," added casting director, writer, and producer Sidra Smith. "I think she was going to be a very famous, very successful DP," Archenemy director Adam Egypt Mortimer told the Los Angeles Times. "She was building a reputation. She was showing people what she could do."

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Mortimer expressed dismay at the accidental shooting, which also left Rust director Joel Souza, 48, critically injured. "The level of protocol and safety that we tend to have on any production of any size, when you get down to handling weapons, guns, it's so involved that the fact that a gun went off and killed Halyna is ... shocking from an industry point of view," he told the BBC. CNN reports Baldwin was "photographed looking distraught" outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, where he was questioned on Thursday. (More accidental death stories.)

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