Halyna Hutchins, who was killed in the shooting on the Alec Baldwin film ‘Rust,’ was a ‘rising star’ in cinematography

Halyna Hutchins
Halyna Hutchins died on Thursday. Instagram/ @halynahutchins
  • Halyna Hutchins was killed on Thursday after a prop gun was fired on the set of “Rust.”
  • Hutchins had been named a rising star by the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) in 2019.
  • The 42-year-old cinematographer was one of 18 female members out of a total of 390 in ASC in 2019.

Halyna Hutchins, a 42-year-old cinematographer, was killed on Thursday after a prop gun was fired on the set of the film “Rust.”

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office reported that Alec Baldwin, who stars in the movie, discharged a prop firearm, resulting in the death of Hutchins and injuring the film’s director, Joel Souza. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 44 union sent an email on Friday, seen by IndieWire, to its members that said the prop gun had a “single live round” which was accidentally fired by Baldwin, hitting both Hutchins and Souza.

“Rust” cast member Frances Fisher tweeted on Friday that Souza told her that he had left the hospital.

Hutchins, the director of photography for “Rust,” a western movie written by Souza and produced by both Baldwin and Souza, had been named one of the American Society of Cinematographers’ (ASC) rising stars in 2019. She’s survived by her husband, Matthew Hutchins, and their son.

Matthew Hutchins told Insider’s Natalie Musumeci by phone on Friday morning that he had no words “to communicate the situation” following his wife’s death. “I think that we will need a little bit of time before we can really encapsulate her life in a way that is easy to communicate,” he said.

Hutchins got her start in journalism before working as a cinematographer

Born in Ukraine, Hutchins grew up on an Arctic military base, according to a bio on her website. She first worked as a journalist after graduating with a degree in international journalism from Kyiv National University.

“My transition from journalism began when I was working on British film productions in Eastern Europe, traveling with crews to remote locations and seeing how the cinematographer worked,” Hutchins told ASC’s magazine when they profiled her for their list of rising stars in 2019. “I was fascinated with storytelling based on real characters.”

After moving to Los Angeles, she studied at the American Film Institute Conservatory from 2013 to 2015. Hutchins worked as a cinematographer on over 20 movies, according to IMDB. The 42-year-old recently worked on the indie superhero thriller “Archenemy” which starred Joe Manganiello, who paid tribute to Hutchins after her death.

On Thursday, the director of “Archenemy,” Adam Egypt Mortimer, retweeted a thread he made last year praising Hutchins’ work on the movie, saying she had a “brilliant mind.”

On Friday morning, Baldwin broke his silence after the incident, tweeting that “his heart is broken” after firing the prop gun which caused the death of Hutchins.

“There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours,” Baldwin wrote on Twitter.

Before her death, Hutchins had shared on Instagram her excitement about working on working on “Rust.”

The loss of Hutchins, a rising star in a male-dominated field, is a major loss in cinematography

In Hollywood, female cinematographers are rare. In 2017, Rachel Morrisson became the first and only female cinematographer to be nominated for an Oscar, for her work on “Mudbound.”

According to their website, ASC, one of the main societies for cinematographers, had only invited their first Black female cinematographer to the society in 2020 and their first Latin and Asian American women did not join until 2018. In 2019, the Los Angeles Times reported that ASC only had 18 women as members out of 390 total members.

A friend of Hutchins and fellow cinematographer, Elle Schneider, wrote in her tribute on Twitter: “Halyna was shooting the Western RUST when she died. Women cinematographers have historically been kept from genre film, and it seems especially cruel that one of the rising stars who was able to break through had her life cut short on the kind of project we’ve been fighting for.”

After the tragic loss, filmmakers are calling for an end to the use of prop guns in movies due to the fact that they can still be dangerous even if blanks are used, with some, like “The Boys” showrunner Eric Kripke, even vowing to eliminate the use of firearm blanks in all his projects going forward.

Hutchins had supported the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) in their protest against dangerous working conditions days on set a couple of days before she was shot.