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Director of photography killed, movie director injured after Alec Baldwin discharged prop firearm

Blackadder1916

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The Ontario Guidelines are not a comfort. There is a loophole between the terms "should be ..." and "shall be ..." that one can drive a truck through.

At best, these guidelines are suggestions - which is inherent in the term "guidelines" - rather than regulations or requirements which would be within the power of the Ministry to issue. I suspect, and don't know for sure, that things are left a bit loose because these guidelines are produced by the industry and an advisory committee. There is undoubtedly a desire not to fetter the very lucrative movie production industry in Ontario (or Quebec or BC) too much.

There is legislation in Ontario under the Occupational Health and Safety Act which does apply and which is fairly strict and has very broad powers to regulate industry but does not contain this level of detail vis-a-vis this industry or firearms. It does have specific regulations which cover a broad swath of industries but not this one.

🍻

How very lawyerly. 😏 I expected someone to mention that truck-sized loophole. I started to draft a response to explain why I thought these guidelines valuable and how they could conceivably be applied, but then I discovered that its introduction says it better than I could. The parts of the following extracts that are "bolded" are as per the website, the parts "highlighted" (yellow) are my emphasis.

Introduction
The Film and Television Industry is a unique business. It can also presents unique and unusual occupational health and safety hazards to its workers.

This fact was recognized by members of the Industry and the Ministry of Labour who came together on May 11, 1988, for the first meeting of the Section 21 Committee Health and Safety Advisory for the Film and Television Industry.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) sets out the rights and duties of all parties in the workplace. It establishes procedures for dealing with workplace hazards and it provides for enforcement of the law where compliance has not been achieved voluntarily by workplace parties. Each employer/producer, supervisor and worker needs to be familiar with the provisions of the OHSA and the regulations that apply to film and television work environments. All of these workplace parties have responsibilities under the OHSA and the regulations. It is important to note that the OHSA definition of “worker” includes self-employed independent contractors.

In the context of film and television workplaces, inspectors with the Ministry of Labour will apply the requirements of the OHSA and the relevant regulations made under the Act such as Regulation for Industrial Establishments, Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Regulation, and Regulation for Construction Projects. Ministry of Labour inspectors are provided a copy of these Guidelines, but it is important to remember that their responsibility is to apply and enforce the law and they are not bound by or obliged to apply the Guidelines.

. . .

These Guidelines have been prepared by representatives of the industry on the Section 21 Committee Health and Safety Advisory for the Film and Television Industry to assist employers/producers, supervisors and working professionals in determining the ways they may best comply with their obligations under the OHSA and the relevant regulations made under the Act. Following the recommendations and the guidelines does not relieve the workplace parties of their obligations under OHSA. The Committee was assisted by experts in the various skills, hazards and techniques mentioned throughout this document (see Acknowledgements).

The Guidelines recommend realistic procedures to develop methods for identifying potential hazards in our work environments, in order to increase our productivity and to protect those working in the film and television industry. Safe procedures do not involve losing the appearance of risk that can be such a vital quality of the production. These Guidelines are intended to assist people involved in the industry and not replace the laws that are in place. To determine their legal workplace duties and rights, employers/producers, supervisors and working professionals are urged to refer to the actual legislation. The Guidelines will be continually updated and augmented, to deal with the changes in the film and television field as they occur.
 

Navy_Pete

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This situation sucks. The risks are pretty well understood and the consequences pretty clear, but because it falls under local juridictional rules the actual safety precautions aren't standardized at the studio level. Given the number of rounds fired in movie production every year and the pretty low number of incidents, clear that it can be done safely, but obvious that it can quickly go wrong when you cut corners. Not really surprised that Ontario (and probably Canada in general) has tighter movie gun safety procedures in place than the southern US though.

From poking at the marine rules, every single one was put in place following some kind of tradgedy, or a near miss (that could have been a tragedy). People usually bitch and complain about needing to meet safety standards or minimum material states, right up until something goes wrong and there is an investigation (and then you get pounded for not following it).
 

Retired AF Guy

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I listened to the Dan Abrams Friday show on Sirius XM where he discusses the shootings with Mike Tristano who apparently has lots of experience with the use of firearms on movie/TV sets. Listening to Tristano it appears that normally the handling of firearms on movie sets is very controlled. As to whether it was on this set remains to be seen.

For more recent news, the New York Times has an update on what is known and not known.
 

Colin Parkinson

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Alec may escape criminal charges in this regard, but since he is a co-producer and possible guilty of negligent behaviour, it's unlikely he will escape a civil suit on the matter by the estates of the deceased.
 

brihard

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Alec may escape criminal charges in this regard, but since he is a co-producer and possible guilty of negligent behaviour, it's unlikely he will escape a civil suit on the matter by the estates of the deceased.
The real legal fight will likely not be between the estate and the production, but between the production and their insurance company.
 

CBH99

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I’m not a fan of Alec Baldwin - very rarely have I heard a ‘Hollywood type’ have a down to Earth, common sense approach to political issues. The ones that do, aren’t the ones in the media.

But a fan or not, I’m curious to see how this happened. Reports of cutting corners isn’t sounding good at all - but the questions I asked before will be extremely important to answer before a course of action can be taken.


And while it is true that we are to never point a weapon at something we don’t intend to shoot, the movie industry - just by its very nature - is the exception. John Wick, anybody?

I imagine one of the questions that will be asked in determining a course of action, or eventually in court, will be how the safety standards and culture on this set compared to other movies made that had ‘shooting scenes’ without incident.
 

mariomike

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Westerns have always been my favorite movie genre.

They say, "The show must go on". But, I can't see Western gunfights ever being the same with CGI.

Similar to when stunt driving through real city streets with Bill Hickman ( Bullitt, French Connection, 7-ups ) ended.

Sadly, film and TV accidents are nothing new.
 

The Bread Guy

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More on the "how is he more liable?" and "who else is in the liability chain?" questions ...
Alec Baldwin the actor, who pulled the trigger on a prop gun while filming "Rust" in New Mexico and unwittingly killed a cinematographer and injured a director, likely won't be held criminally or civilly liable for the tragedy.

But Alec Baldwin the producer might be, along with several others in leadership positions for the Western ...
 

daftandbarmy

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More on the "how is he more liable?" and "who else is in the liability chain?" questions ...

Episode 1 Mind Blown GIF by The Office
 

FJAG

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Sadly, film and TV accidents are nothing new.
If I were to take a guess I would say for every film or TV accident there are thousands taking place on farms and industry.

There just not so news worthy. You just don't have the multitude of "experts" pontificating on all the cable and entertainment channels for weeks on end.

:unsure:
 

Colin Parkinson

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The NRA, CSSA, NFA and the NSSF all worked really hard to reduce accidental shootings and suicides. Educating new gun owners, marketing campaigns and suicide awareness training for retail staff. It had a significant effect over the years, but they never get credit for it.
 

The Bread Guy

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Let the litigation games begin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Rust script supervisor Mamie Mitchell, who originally called 911 following the on-set shooting that took the life of the indie Western’s director of photography, is now suing star Alec Baldwin — who was holding the gun when it fired — and his fellow producers.

Represented by Gloria Allred, Mitchell alleges being injured from a gun firing four feet away from her and is claiming assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and deliberate infliction of harm.

Perhaps most notably, Mitchell’s new complaint, filed in L.A. Superior Court, says the script didn’t call for any gun to be discharged ...
🍿
 

mariomike

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My uneducated guess is it will be "settled out of court for an undisclosed amount(s)"

Hopefully, Hollywood will continue making Westerns - without special visual effects created using computer software.

I read that in the old Hollywood, show business people who got injured were somewhat hesitant to sue the studios.

After she recuperated, she said, "I won't sue, because I know how this business works, and I would never work again.
The Making of the Wizard of Oz: Movie Magic and Studio Power in the Prime of MGM.
 

dangerboy

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My guess is it will be "settled out of court for an undisclosed amount(s)"

Hopefully, Hollywood will continue making Westerns - without special visual effects created using computer software.

I read that in the old Hollywood, show business people who got injured were somewhat hesitant to sue the studios.


The Making of the Wizard of Oz: Movie Magic and Studio Power in the Prime of MGM.
That was not a good thing, it allowed studios to get away with some bad practices and not care about their employee's health and safety.
 

mariomike

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That was not a good thing, it allowed studios to get away with some bad practices and not care about their employee's health and safety.
That is right. It was a bad thing. Hopefully, the Hollywood of today has changed for the better.
 

Kirkhill

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George Clooney via The Independent

George Clooney has strongly criticised the producers of Rust after Halyna Hutchins was shot and killed on the set of the film.

Hutchins was killed after a gun fired by Alec Baldwin had been loaded with a real bullet, fired during a rehearsal of the film in New Mexico.

Clooney, in an interview on WTF with Marc Maron, laid into the producers of the film: “Why for the life of me this low-budget film, with producers who haven’t produced anything, wouldn’t have hired, for the armourer, someone with experience.”

He then called the situation “insane” and “infuriating”.

Clooney also detailed his experience of working with guns on movies: “I’ve been on sets for 40 years and the person that hands you the gun, the person that is responsible for the gun is either the prop person or the armour. Period.

The Hail Caesar star added: “Every single time I’m handed a gun on set, I look at it, I open it, I show it to the person I’m pointing it to, we show it to the crew, every single take you hand it back to the armour when you’re done, and you do it again. Everyone does it.”

Clooney also talked about the safety process when he has used a gun in a film: “We need to be better at making the heads of department experienced and know what they’re doing. Because this is just infuriating. Every time I get handed a six gun, you point it at the ground and you fire. You squeeze it six times. Always.”

The actor and director also addressed claims the assistant director called out
“cold gun” on set signifying that the gun was safe to use: ”I’ve never heard of the term ‘cold gun’, they’re just talking about stuff I’ve never heard of. It’s infuriating.”


Last week, a crew member from Rust announced they were suing Alec Baldwin and the film’s armourer for “severe emotional distress” after the shooting.

Criminal charges have still not been filed in relation to the shooting but have not been ruled out either
 
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