How Halyna Hutchins' Death Could Change Hollywood

In the wake of the fatal on-set shooting, in which Alec Baldwin misfired the prop gun that killed Halyna Hutchins, advocates are calling for change in Hollywood. At a vigil honoring Hutchins on October 24, Stephen Lighthill, president of the American Society of Cinematographers American Film Institute, spoke about keeping guns off television and movie sets. Vanity Fair reported that Lighthill said, "I'd like you to do is start a conversation around functional guns on set. There is no place for weapons that can kill on a motion picture set."

Hutchins' death reflects a systemic problem in the entertainment industry. The demand for original content, driven by streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and others, has changed television and movie production. For example, scripted TV series rose from 216 in 2010 to 532 in 2019, per FX Networks research (via The New York Times). Streaming has changed the entertainment business model and productions are under pressure to deliver the product faster and at lower budgets.

The content demand has stretched resources, and there is a lack of experienced crew members. A veteran producer told Variety, "In some places, you can't find qualified people for these jobs, so you are taking (crew) with very little experience." Variety also reported that streaming content's lower cost of entry attracts companies without entertainment experience to produce movies. Streamline Global, one of the production entities involved with "Rust," was founded in 2017. Streamline's co-founder told Variety in 2017, "Films are the byproduct of the comprehensive tax planning strategies we employ for our clients." (Um, what?) However, Hutchins' death could change Hollywood.

Advocates want Hollywood to ban real firearms from TV and movie sets

A petition banning real firearms on sets and demanding better working conditions for crew members has more than 29,000 signatures as of October 25. The petition calls Alec Baldwin to "use his power and influence in the Hollywood film industry." Filmmaker Bandar Albuliwi started the petition on October 23 on behalf of his friend Halyna Hutchins. Albuliwi wrote, "We lost an unbelievably talented cinematographer on the film set of 'Rust,' due to a real gun being discharged with live ammunition in it. I am in shock and numb to my core. "

The filmmaker paid tribute to Hutchins in the petition and stated, "We need to make sure that this avoidable tragedy never happens again... There is no excuse for something like this to happen in the 21st century. Real guns are no longer needed on film production sets." The petition has been shared on social media by actors and directors. Director Olivia Wilde tweeted, "Hollywood: It's time to create "Halyna's Law," which will ban the use of real firearms on film production sets and create a safe working environment for everyone involved. – Sign the Petition! via @Change." We'll keep you posted on how this important movement in Hollywood develops.