EXCLUSIVE: As the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office continues their investigation of the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on October 21, which also injured director Joel Souza, on the set of the Alec Baldwin movie Rust, new claims and details are emerging of first assistant director, David Halls – including a 2019 complaint against him.
“Dave Halls worked on two films for Blumhouse Television in 2019, and was not rehired after that time,” a Blumhouse TV spokesperson told Deadline today of the First AD. Two years ago, Halls was on the crew of the “Pure” and “Culture Shock” episodes of the Blumhouse TV anthology series Into the Dark, which was streamed on Hulu.
Blumhouse would not say why Halls was not hired again.
However, a complaint centering on what is being characterized as “personal behavior” was lodged on Pure against the First AD for a lack of respect for the space of fellow crew members and other co-workers, we have learned. Halls was described as “very aggressive” and “intimidating on set” by a source close to the production.
There were also claims of safety issues on Pure, but nothing directly connected to Halls, we hear. “Any complaints that were received by the studio regarding safety issues were dealt with promptly,” the Blumhouse spokesperson added.
When the Rust production was reached by Deadline about Halls’ previous history and any knowledge they may have had, they provided no comment. Halls himself has not replied to request for comment from Deadline.
It should be noted that no charges have been filed against anyone on the Rust production by police. Halls, like Baldwin and others on the Rust crew were interviewed on October 21 by the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office and released. They are all free to leave the state, police officials tell us.
According to sources in New Mexico, the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office are continuing today to go over the Bonanza Creek Ranch location where Hutchins was fatally wounded and Souza injured and collect evidence. In addition the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau, is undergoing an investigation as to what occurred on Rust .
Early Sunday,Maggie Goll, who worked on Into the Dark as a day player as a prop assistant and on SFX requirements told NBC News that Halls “at first he seemed like an older, affable first [assistant director] with the usual run of idiosyncrasies, but that facade soon disappeared.” Goll went on to say Halls “did not maintain a safe working environment.” Also interviewed on-air, the masked crew member claimed that “sets were almost always allowed to become increasingly claustrophobic, no established fire lanes, exits blocked … safety meetings were nonexistent.”
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In a statement Goll sent Deadline this afternoon, the crew member further added that she reached out to IATSE on Saturday to institute an investigation of Hall’s on-set behavior, specifically in terms of safety. While the armorer is responsible for firearms safety on a set, the First AD is responsible for all safety issues overall.
In that context, the detailed affidavit submitted Friday to the New Mexico courts for a subsequently issued search warrant on the Rust tragedy said that just before the shooting of Hutchins and Souza, Baldwin on the afternoon of October 20 was handed one of a trio of prop guns from a nearby cart by Halls. Preparing for a rehearsal scene, the Rust star and producer was told the prop was a “cold gun” that did not have any live rounds in it.
Indicating that three prop guns were prepped by the on-set armorer, who is named as Hannah Gutierrez in the October 22 filing from Detective Joel Cano, the affidavit said that Halls “did not know live rounds were in the prop gun.” Among various components of the search warrant, the police are seeking to see if any footage of the fatal accident exists. As well they are seeking other items such as the “Old Western Style” outfit Baldwin was wearing at the time of the shooting, phones, memory cards and more.
We understand that the $7M production of the now halted for an “undetermined period of time” Rust was 50% completed at the time of the bloody incident.
On Friday, Deadline learned that Rust‘s camera crew packed up their personal gear and walked off the job, citing a wide range of complaints including lack of payment for three weeks, no lodging and poor on-set gun safety. The production allegedly brought in non-union people to replace departing crew.
The Rust production acknowledge to Deadline that crew did in fact depart, but that they were paid. They later issued a statement to Deadline saying, “The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company. Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down. We will continue to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and offer mental health services to the cast and crew during this tragic time.”
With police probes and more on-going, it is very early in the process for issues of liability to be determined.
However, OSHA can impose civil penalties for workplace accidents, even if law enforcement determines that no crime occurred.
When that is decided could take awhile.
On October 21, New Mexico’s First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, told Deadline: “This case is still in its preliminary states of investigation,” and that, “At this time, we do not know if charges will be filed. We will look into all facts and evidence of the case with great discretion and have further information at a later time.”
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