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Hollywood gathers for vigil for victims of Alec Baldwin shooting

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Hollywood gathers for vigil for victims of Alec Baldwin shooting
Hollywood gathers for vigil for victims of Alec Baldwin shooting

Shocked friends and colleagues of Halyna Hutchins gathered on Sunday to pay their respects to the cinematographer who was killed when Alec Baldwin fired a propeller pistol on a film set.

Anguish and anger were rife as Hollywood watched over Hutchins, as questions grew as to how such a tragedy could have happened, despite stringent guarantees.

“I had the pleasure of working with Halyna,” actress Sharon Leal said. “She was a wonderful and fair woman, we are all so shocked.”

Hutchins, 42, was shot in the chest when Baldwin fired a propeller pistol he was told was safe on the set of low-budget Western “Rust” in New Mexico Thursday. She was pronounced dead in hospital hours later.

Director Joel Souza, 48, who was crouched behind her as they lined up a shot, was also hit. He was treated by doctors and sent home.

Police are still investigating the shooting and have executed a search warrant on the set, where, among other things, they were looking to see if the rehearsal had been filmed.

Baldwin has been questioned by detectives in Santa Fe and has said he is fully cooperating with the investigation.

Attention was also drawn to the film’s assistant director, Dave Halls, who handed the gun to the actor, and the gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, 24.

No one has been charged in what police describe as an “ongoing investigation”, and no arrests have been made.

But as dozens of Hollywood insiders gathered in a suburb of Los Angeles on Sunday, there was palpable anger about what was wrong.

“Low-budget productions often want to look like they’re bigger than they actually are,” said director Gustavo Sampaio, who worked with Hutchins four years ago.

“So they cut the corners and put security in the backseat when it really should be at the forefront of anything that is done on a set.”

This sentiment was echoed by producer Sabrina Oertle.

“I can tell you that as a producer, someone dropped the ball. Someone decided to go with the result, which is to keep your budget… cheap. “

‘No excuses’

Calls were mounting for a ban on live firearms on film sets, with a petition on change.org collecting more than 22,000 signatures on Sunday night.

“There is no excuse for something like this to happen in the 21st century,” says the text of the petition launched by Bandar Albuliwi, screenwriter and director.

Dave Cortese, a Democrat elected to the California Senate, said on Saturday he would advance a bill to ban live ammunition on film sets in California

“There is an urgent need to tackle the alarming workplace abuses and safety violations occurring on the set of theatrical productions, including unnecessary high risk conditions such as the use of live firearms.”

Los Angeles hit crime drama “The Rookie” decided the day after the shooting to ban all live ammunition from its set, effective immediately, according to industry publication The Hollywood Reporter.

But some industry professionals have said that using film guns is not the problem.

Gunsmith SL Huang, writing on Twitter, said she had worked hundreds of film sets without incident, thanks to strict security protocols and built-in redundancies.

“A tragedy that unfolds * in this way * defies all I know about how we treat guns on film sets,” she wrote.

“My colleagues and I have tried to figure out how this could happen by following our basic safety procedures and we keep losing.

“Which implies … that maybe very basic and very standard safety procedures were not followed. And that no one stopped production when they weren’t.”

The Los Angeles Times reported this week that the crew were concerned about safety and working conditions.

The newspaper, citing crew members who were on set, said three prop guns unexpectedly discharged ahead of Thursday’s tragedy.

The production company did not respond to AFP’s requests for comment.

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