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This article was published 27/10/2021 (249 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg’s film industry is reeling after the on-set New Mexico shooting death last week of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Hutchins worked this summer in the Manitoba capital on the yet-to-be-released horror/thriller feature Time Cut.
The 42-year-old Ukrainian was shot and killed Oct. 21 by actor Alec Baldwin when a gun reportedly carrying a live bullet was fired during a rehearsal on the set of upcoming Western film Rust.
Just before the fatal incident, a half-dozen crew members had walked off the set after complaints of unsafe working conditions.
In its wake, Hutchins’ death has sparked conversations around film crew safety standards and has been hard on the people who work in the industry, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 856 president Nicolas Phillips said Tuesday.
"It’s hard to hear that kind of thing, because you have a common experience, common situations, you know how things are supposed to work, so when something like this happens it hits a lot closer to home," the lighting technician said.
IATSE Local 856 has just under 600 members and represents many of Manitoba’s film industry workers. Some worked on set with Hutchins on Time Cut, which began production July 7 but has since wrapped, according to the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists Manitoba website.
IATSE has reached out to membership about the incident, which has compounded the grieving of some in the local industry: many are still processing the death of veteran Rainbow Stage crew member John Shopka, who died in a fall at the theatre earlier this month.
Phillips has been working in Winnipeg for nearly 20 years, and said any time a prop gun was involved on set, there were strict protocols in place, including staff focused on monitoring the firearms.
"There are ways of doing this very safely, including never having live rounds on any set or anywhere near a set, and there are people who are very experienced whose job it is, and only is, to supervise those weapons and go through all the rigorous stage protocol," he said.
Phillips hopes Hutchins will be remembered not just in her death but in the work she accomplished before the incident. (She has 30 cinematography credits on her IMDb.com online profile.)
"What happened to (union) sister Hutchins shouldn’t have happened. An accident is what happens when every measure that can be taken was taken and something happens. In this case, it seems like not everything that should’ve been done was done, and that’s really tragic," he said.
"This was 100 per cent avoidable. What happened to her was 100 per cent avoidable."
Malak Abas is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.