Los Angeles, Nov 10 (EFE).- The lighting director for the film “Rust,” Serge Svetnoy, on Wednesday filed the first civil lawsuit against US actor and producer Alec Baldwin and other members of the production team on the film after the shooting death of photography director Halyna Hutchins during filming.
At a press conference in Los Angeles, Svetnoy, who was also wounded by the bullet that killed Hutchins, said that in between takes on the “Rust” set he had seen guns left “unattended in the sand” during the filming of the Western on Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Due to these conditions on the set and the later fatal accident, Svetnoy filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court for negligence against the producers of the film, including Baldwin, as well as against the assistant director and the woman in charge of the “Rust” weaponry.
In the court document, to which EFE gained access, Svetnoy blamed Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the 24-year-old armorer, for accepting a job that was beyond her experience on a film where, the document claimed, several auxiliary weapons personnel were required to ensure that all weapons were handled safely and that none of them contained live rounds.
According to the suit, Gutierrez-Reed was neither “competent” nor “experienced” and negligently allowed a Colt .45 revolver with at least one live round to be handed to assistant director David Halls, who did not inspect the pistol adequately and then gave it to Baldwin, who was about to film a scene.
“What happened next will haunt Plaintiff forever,” the lawsuit documents reads, adding that Svetnoy “felt a strange and terrifying whoosh of what felt like pressurized air from his right. He felt what he believed was gunpowder and other residual materials directly strike the right side of his face.”
Svetnoy said that Baldwin also was duty-bound to “double-check” to be sure that the pistol was not loaded with live ammunition before pulling the trigger, as he practiced for his upcoming scene, in which he was to point the gun at the camera and fire it.
The suit claims that everyone who handled the gun “failed to thoroughly inspect” it, adding that it was Baldwin’s responsibility to handle the Colt revolver as it were loaded and not to point it at anyone.
At the press conference, Svetnoy said that he is “convinced” that the producers bear a large portion of the blame for allegedly trying to “save money” by hiring an insufficient number of workers to handle the film’s weaponry safely on the set.
In the lawsuit, Svetnoy claims that he has suffered from “severe emotional distress” and is afraid he will lose potential income from being unable to work in the future.
The suit says that “The producers of ‘Rust’ had a duty to hire persons who were trained and experienced in carefully overseeing the use of firearms and ammunition in the filming of the motion picture.”
Svetnoy, 63, and Hutchins had been close friends for over five years and had worked on nine films together. Both of them were Ukrainian immigrants and had spent holidays together with their families. After he was wounded, Svetnoy held Hutchins’ head in his lap after she was fatally wounded.
As the official investigation into the shooting has progressed, additional details have emerged such as that Halls, who handed the pistol to Baldwin, was fired from another film in 2019 for a similar incident, although that weapon discharge did not injure anyone.
Halls admitted in October that he did not examine the weapon that he handed to Baldwin before he rehearsed the scene because he was certain that it only contained blanks.