Things Were So Much Worse on the Set of Rust Then I Thought

Things Were So Much Worse on the Set of Rust Then I Thought

There is nothing more dangerous than an unloaded gun.

That was driven home to me when I was on weekend duty at battalion HQ and a report came in that one of the married Marines had committed suicide off base.  It turned out that he had shot himself in the brain because he had been playing with a pistol that he knew was “unloaded.”  As a joke, he had put it to his temple and pulled the trigger.  Death by Darwin ensued.

Supernatural star Jensen Ackles has a part in Rust.  Or possibly had.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the studio shutters this one. But I would be equally unsurprised if the studio moved forward to capitalize on the tragedy.

From what I can glean from the article below, Supernatural only used gas-guns on set.  That is a genuinely non-functional prop gun, it is physically impossible to load a round into one. Pull the trigger and a puff of gas is released that works the slide simulating a shot.  The flash and smoke are added in post.

Ackles had only worked with those before Rust.  Here is an interview with him where he describes his time on the set of Rust.

“After detailing how he got the part and sharing enthusiasm for starring in a Western, a lifelong dream, he said, “I’ve got a 6 a.m. call tomorrow to have a big shootout. They had me pick my gun, they were like, ‘All right, what gun would you like?’ and I was like, ‘I don’t know?’ and the armorer was like, ‘Do you have gun experience?’ I was like, ‘A little.’ And she’s like, ‘OK, well, this is how you load it, this is how we check it and make sure it’s safe.’” He went on to say that the armorer told him she was going to fill the gun with blanks so he could shoot off a couple of rounds toward a nearby hill, noting that he did so easily.”

YouTube pulled that interview, undoubtedly at the studio’s frantic pleading.  Because that paragraph breaks all of the film industry’s regulations for gun safety.

I haven’t covered this before because it was a Hollywood accident and that meant there would be a flood of contradictory stories coming out of it.  The show business press would be both covering and covering up for it because they have zero autonomy in Hollywood.  They don’t fact-check, they just run with what they hear or what the studio orders them to say.  The real media will eventually settle on a narrative that probably has nothing to do with the actual events either.  The closest to objective reality will be the police report but in bitter truth, all that really means is that everyone on set got their stories straight after the lawyers told them what to say.

The person you aren’t hearing from is the armorer because she was told not to say anything. Because she is the designated fall guy.

A friend of a friend who got into the film business was appalled when he heard about Jensen Ackles YouTube interview. Here are some things he had to say to me.

Terminology: a “hot gun” is a functional firearm.  A “cold gun” is a completely inoperable as a firearm.  The problem with a cold gun is that it falls into the same mental blank space as the “unloaded gun.”  

First. An actor doesn’t get to pick the firearm.  He is assigned it.

Second. If there is going to be any kind of familiarization firing of the weapon it will be done at a pistol range and not just fired at a cliff face like a damn hillbilly.

Third. On set, the chain of custody is (a) Armorer safety checks, then loads the weapon (if hot). Armorer hands it off to the (B) Prop Master and tells him if the gun is hot or cold. Then the Propmaster safety checks the weapon and hands it off to the (C) Assistant Director and tells him if the gun is hot or cold.  Then the Assistant Director safety checks the weapon and hands it off to (D) the Actor and tells him if the weapon is hot or cold. The Actor does NOT safety check the weapon, if he opens it, he has a broken chain of custody and it has to be returned to the (A) Armorer.  Because actors are retarded narcissists who can barely pick their own noses successfully, you don’t let them do anything important like a firearm safety check.  

Four.  The actor is given strict safety instructions and is made to follow them.

As far as I can tell, none of those things happened.  Because of its low budget, Rust doesn’t appear to have had a prop master.  Which means the armorer handed the weapon directly to the Assistant Director who didn’t check it because it was a “cold gun.”

There are some directors that will insist on live rounds for certain shots because there is no other effective way to simulate recoil.  The safety protocols for that would take several pages.  And there aren’t germane to this incident since the cinematographer was killed by a “cold gun.”

There is little question the armor was bad at her job. She appears to have been lazy and lackadaisical in the performance of her duties.  The YouTube interview paints a picture of a goth girl who flushed all of her duties just to have some alone time with Dean Winchester.

But the big thing is this, when you have a major mishap despite a whole bunch of procedures to prevent it from being in place, then it is never just one decision.  It is always a chain of bad decisions that lead up to the mishap. And it always starts at the very top.

A $7 million picture shot on a 21-day schedule is too fast for that kind of movie, it made people cut corners for the sake of time wherever possible.  The Armorer was bad at her job, but she didn’t hire herself.  Her shortcomings were readily apparent long before the incident and she still wasn’t dismissed from her position.  The Propmaster is the only one who is blameless because he doesn’t exist. The same can’t be said for the Assistant Director, who didn’t safety check a “cold gun” despite the fact that he had to know the armorer was a lazy idiot.  Baldwin was specifically prohibited from checking to see if the gun was loaded but that doesn’t relieve him of the responsibility to never point any gun, cold or hot, at someone he did not intend to shoot.  He has done enough action scenes to know the rules.

Top to bottom there was a whole slew of people who made this accident happen. 

But the armorer is the only one that’s going to pay for it because she is the most easily expendable. Because that is how Hollywood works.

Okay, done here.

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Comments (19)

  • Dave W. Reply


    October 27, 2021 at 7:57 pm
  • Leatherwing Reply

    I’ve read a few articles saying what you say, no actor is responsible for checking their guns. But there have been a few actors on twitter (Adam Baldwin and Kirstie Alley) who say they always checked their guns (by checking the chamber and/or dry firing it).

    I’ve also heard conflicting definitions of a prop gun. My only knowledge is from a film class that said prop only means it is the property of the production, it doesn’t have any meaning as to whether the gun is functional or not. Several actors and other film professionals have given different definitions in the past few days.

    It’s a bit like the 2A community. Even when most agree on principles, definitions of terms (silencer vs suppressor, magazine vs clip) are used incorrectly enough to muddy the water.

    October 27, 2021 at 8:37 pm
    • SirFalterBrawley Reply

      The use of the term “prop gun” ought to ended. They should be referred to at all times as firearms, whether they can launch a projectile or not. There’s a scene in Wind River where Jeremy Renner is picking up his son from his ex-wife’s house and the kid comes running down the stairs with his hands full of luggage and his bb gun in the crook of his arm pointing down the stairs. Renner’s character ask his son where his gun is pointing and the kid stops dead in his tracks, dropping his luggage down the stairs so he can control the gun. Being a bb gun, it’s highly unlikely it would kill anyone, but it can do damage. More importantly, though, the kid was being trained on the proper handling of a gun, so that if he is handling a more dangerous weapon, he understands the importance of controlling it. Ideally, you would treat actors like that kid, training them in gun safety, even if the guns they’re handling aren’t likely to kill anyone. But nothing about Hollywood is ideal, except the image it projects about itself.

      October 27, 2021 at 9:57 pm
  • DFCtomm Reply

    Rules like Constitutions only matter if you follow their mandates. The people that will choose to obey or ignore those mandates have always been what mattered. Yes, failure starts from the top.

    October 27, 2021 at 9:01 pm
  • Bibliotheca Servare Reply

    From what I’ve heard and read, the AD took the gun off the cart *himself* without wondering why the armorer wasn’t around. Could be incorrect, but it’s the story I heard. Considering the fact that they’d already had two accidental discharges in the previous two days, when most productions have zero…and a union camera crew walked out partly because of gun safety concerns… you’d think they’d have been doubly careful, wouldn’t you? Yeah…

    October 28, 2021 at 1:07 am
  • Brick Hardslab Reply

    Was it a DA or SA and was it already cocked when Baldwin was handed it? If he cocked it and pulled the trigger knowing the gun could fire actual rounds, just to make a point, I think he’s gone past safe handling regardless of who said, ‘cold’.

    October 28, 2021 at 1:20 am
  • Dave W. Reply

    Baldwin was one of the producers. No wonder it was run like a bunch of chimps taking over the zoo.

    October 28, 2021 at 1:35 am
  • furor kek tonicus Reply

    i understand that terms often have specific ( and quite often non-obvious to a layman ) meanings within various professions but i have a real problem with this:
    A “cold gun” is a completely inoperable as a firearm.
    i would NEVER consider a ( supposedly ) unloaded firearm to be “inoperable”. that term carries connotations that the device is no longer/never was physically unable to function as a firearm, such as removing the firing pin or spiking the barrel.

    like a damn hillbilly.
    hey now, there’s a fair few hillbillies i’m quite fond of. swamp crackers, rednecks and Pennsyltuckian hilljacks as well. it doesn’t get much more fun than heading up into the old mining town of Adrian PA and unloading at some clay pigeons in the coal hills.
    The Actor does NOT safety check the weapon, if he opens it, he has a broken chain of custody and it has to be returned to the (A) Armorer.
    ah. i forgot about Union Rules. still, i would have dry fired the weapon into the dirt before pointing it at anyone.
    also, Baldwin is *still* responsible, due to being Exec Producer / Financing the project. he either handpicked all of these clowns to hire or delegated that responsibility to an underling who is approximately as competent as Alec is.
    have you ever seen Baldwin’s “The Shadow”? consensus amongst my group was that Alec was out-acted by the CGI knife. the 1994 CGI era animated knife.
    that doesn’t relieve [Alec] of the responsibility to never point any gun, cold or hot, at someone he did not intend to shoot.
    eh, i’ve seen camera shots looking directly down the barrel of cannons, rifles and pistols. and from the reporting, that’s exactly what the cinematographer was trying to “block” in preparation for filming the actual scene.
    that still doesn’t explain why Alec had his finger on the trigger, much less why he pulled it.
    But the armorer is the only one that’s going to pay for it
    that’s what Alec is going to try to set up, true.
    but this is the United States of America, FUCK YEAH! and we’ve got plenty of ambulance chasers willing to file suit for the contingency fees. and this case has PLENTY of negligence to go around. and that’s just on the civil side.
    for a $7 million budget, what do you think are the odds that Alec bought off the county prosecutor?

    October 28, 2021 at 3:42 am
    • The Dark Herald Reply

      The story they have settled on, (which may not be the truth, but it’s the story they are now sticking with), is that Baldwin was practicing a cross-draw with a single-action revolver. The final point of aim did not have anyone in front of it. His thumb supposedly slipped on the hammer while he was cocking it, before reaching the final point of aim.
      This sounds suspiciously like an accident designed by a defense lawyer.
      But if they make it fly, a “deliberate negligent act” is off the table. I don’t know if they can make it fly, because the cops are actually investigating this one. There is also the question of, does the DA wants to make a name for himself by doing some high-profile headhunting?
      As for Baldwin’s legal responsibility as a producer, it depends on what his contract says his duties are. As you know, production credits frequently mean nothing more than a second paycheck.

      October 28, 2021 at 11:58 am
      • Brick Hardslab Reply

        They got their story straight. Took a long time.

        October 28, 2021 at 4:45 pm
  • furor kek tonicus Reply
    the rules of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers required:[3]
    Someone certified for the weapon in use be present at all times
    Firearms must be checked before and after each take
    Firearms must be cleaned daily
    Firearms must be stored securely by the props master when not in use
    Loaded guns must never be pointed at anyone
    Protective clothing must be worn by everyone nearby when blanks are fired
    If firearms are to be fired directly at the camera, a plexiglass shield must be erected
    Only the person certified for the weapon or someone under their direct supervision may hand a weapon to an actor
    According to Mike Papac, an experienced weapons master, a firearm should not be handed to an actor until film is rolling and should be taken from the actor as soon as the director calls “cut” and there should “never, ever, ever [be] any live ammo on the set. Never. Under no circumstances”.[3] According to armorer Larry Zanoff, after the director calls “cut”, “nobody moves until I gather up every gun and yell ‘The weapons are cold.’”

    October 28, 2021 at 4:20 am
  • Star Tripper Reply

    Took training long ago on internal controls. Had mostly to do with money but the basic lesson of the course is illustrated here. Controls work if they are used. They fail if they are ignored.

    October 28, 2021 at 4:22 am
  • Christopher Lopes Reply

    If Baldwin was expressly forbidden to check the weapon (the stupidest rule I can think of) then this was indeed a systems failure. Pretty much every safety rule was broken with no way to correct it.

    October 28, 2021 at 5:23 am
    • Furor kek tonicus Reply

      Union labor rules.
      NO ONE is permitted to do “work ” that is the responsibility of a union employee, otherwise the company will have a grievance filed on them.
      I agree, everyone should abuse a piece of dogshit like Alec Baldwin at every opportunity, but in this case his being a narcissist retard doesn’t have much to do with him not being allowed to check how the gun is loaded.
      And yes, I am aware that all of the union members had walked off the site earlier in the week, but the set should have continued with the existing rule book. And, had they followed the rules, this accident could never have happened.
      Assuming she wasn’t murdered for her purported pedo ring expose side project and this is just the cover story.

      October 28, 2021 at 5:46 pm
  • Christopher Lopes Reply

    “3] According to armorer Larry Zanoff, after the director calls “cut”, “nobody moves until I gather up every gun and yell ‘The weapons are cold.’”

    That was how I assumed things went before this incident. In an ideal world, such a system would prevent mishaps from even the most incompetent of actors. In this case, the incompetence went all through the chain of custody.

    October 28, 2021 at 9:20 am
  • Herman Sheeple Reply

    I just can’t understand how anyone would think it’s wise to play around with firearms. RIP to that Marine and his family but honestly he should have known better. If Baldwin had a routine of checking his gun on set, why did he fail to do so this time around or did he.

    “The Armorer was bad at her job, but she didn’t hire herself. Her shortcomings were readily apparent long before the incident and she still wasn’t dismissed from her position.”

    How could Baldwin not be aware of the Armorer’s reputation. I am sticking to my theory that this was not an accident. Baldwin is human filth and a member of the Cabal.

    October 28, 2021 at 2:44 pm
  • Bibliotheca Servare Reply

    On the subject of Baldwin as a “producer”… apparently he was one of *twelve* producers. It was basically just a second paycheck, and an ego stroke, as Herald suggested.

    October 28, 2021 at 4:22 pm
  • Saltinicus Reply

    In all my years of being a “damn Hillbilly” I have never known ONE person with “cliff face” training to have a single negligent discharge. And having fired thousands of rounds, both into berms and at gun ranges, I will take the hills any day of the week.

    Appalachia manet in aeternum

    October 28, 2021 at 6:54 pm
  • Dave from Boston Reply

    It looks like they are setting up the AD to be the “fall guy”; they are already talking about how “aggressive” he was and how a previous movie on which he worked had accidental discharges.

    Both he and the armorer have lawyered up; frankly, I don’t blame them since the lawsuits will fly faster than the bullet did!

    October 29, 2021 at 4:08 pm

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