Armourer, 24, on Alec Baldwin film 'wasn't sure' if she was ready for movie set roles

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Hannah Gutierrez told a podcast that she had a 'natural knack' for working with guns - VoicesoftheWest
Hannah Gutierrez told a podcast that she had a 'natural knack' for working with guns - VoicesoftheWest

The 24-year-old head armourer on the set where Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer had suggested she was "nervous" about taking on such roles months before starting on the tragedy-stricken film.

Mr Baldwin was unwittingly handed a gun loaded with live ammunition on the set of Rust, a Western film which was beset by chaos as crew members walked off over safety concerns.

The film's crew reportedly had a series of wide-ranging complaints about working on set, including allegations of unsuitable working arrangements.

There were reports of up to three other previous accidental discharges of prop weapons on the set. One departing crew member called it "super unsafe".

Mr Baldwin fired a live bullet, leading to the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, and injuring director Joel Souza, 48.

Halyna Hutchins was described as a 'visionary' whose big dreams had taken her to Hollywood - Reuters
Halyna Hutchins was described as a 'visionary' whose big dreams had taken her to Hollywood - Reuters

The tragedy happened during rehearsal for a gunfight scene at a wooden church on the Bonanza Creek Ranch, set in New Mexico.

A production source told the Daily Beast: "We were barely rehearsing, we were just getting the camera into position.

"It was a shot of Alec pulling this firearm out in this little church, and he pulled it out and I don’t know if he pulled the trigger, or if he fumbled with the hammer, I don’t know exactly why it discharged."

‘I almost didn’t take the job because I wasn’t sure if I was ready’

Hannah Gutierrez, the head armourer, told a podcast last month she had just finished her first film in such a job, on another Western called The Old Way, starring Nicolas Cage.

Hannah Gutierrez learned much about guns from her father, Thell Reed - Instagram
Hannah Gutierrez learned much about guns from her father, Thell Reed - Instagram

She told the Voices of the West podcast: "It was also my first time being head armourer as well.

“You know, I was really, really nervous about it at first, and I almost didn’t take the job because I wasn’t sure if I was ready but, doing it, like, it went really smoothly."

Her father Thell Reed, 78, is a legendary Hollywood armourer, gun expert and stuntman who has worked with stars including Brad Pitt and Russell Crowe, as well as on Westerns including Tombstone.

Ms Gutierrez graduated in cinematography and film production from Northern Arizona University last year.

Hannah Gutierrez tried acting and modelling before working with guns - Facebook
Hannah Gutierrez tried acting and modelling before working with guns - Facebook

She thought about becoming an actress and had done some modelling, but gravitated toward working with guns.

She said: "I tried it with dad one time and noticed I had a natural knack for it, growing up with guns my whole life.”

She added that she had realised “this is a pretty sweet gig”, adding: “I thought I wanted to be an actress but it's not really my schtick."

Hannah Gutierrez worked on the set of The Old Way, starring Nicholas Cage - Twitter
Hannah Gutierrez worked on the set of The Old Way, starring Nicholas Cage - Twitter

Ms Gutierrez said she had been under apprenticeship with her father, telling the podcast: "Dad's been teaching me a little bit since I was 16, we really got more into the stuff in the last couple of years.

"He took me from being completely green and taught me everything I know so far and by all means, I am still learning."

She added: "I think loading blanks was the scariest thing to me because I was like: 'Oh, I don’t know anything about it.’ But, you know, he taught me that."

String of incidents on film set

It emerged that Rust, set in 1880s Kansas, had been hit by a string of incidents.

Baldwin’s stunt double had reportedly accidentally fired two rounds after being told a gun was not loaded.

A crew member told the Los Angeles Times they had sent a text message to a production manager saying: “We’ve now had three accidental discharges. This is super unsafe."

Half a dozen of the camera crew reportedly walked off the set hours before the tragedy over working conditions, including having to stay at hotels 50 miles away.

They were being replaced by non-unionised workers on the day of the tragedy, the Los Angeles Times reported.

In a statement, Rust Movie Productions said: “The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company.

“Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down."

The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office said the gun used by Mr Baldwin was one of three that Ms Gutierrez had set on a cart outside the church.

An assistant director, Dave Hall, picked up the gun from the cart and brought it inside to Mr Baldwin.

Dave Halls, assistant director on the film Rust - IMDB
Dave Halls, assistant director on the film Rust - IMDB

The assistant director was unaware that it was loaded with live rounds and shouted "cold gun", as per procedure, police said.

The crew was setting up camera angles at the church, and Ms Hutchins and Mr Souza were looking at a monitor over a cameraman's shoulder.

When Mr Baldwin took the gun from its holster nothing happened but, the second time he did, ammunition was fired.

It missed the cameraman but hit Ms Hutchins in the chest and carried on to hit Mr Souza in the shoulder. Mr Hutchins died and Mr Souza was injured.

Role of armourers

Guns used in films are sometimes real weapons that can fire either bullets or blanks.

Films typically have units consisting of armourers and prop masters, to ensure that any weapons are safely handled.

An armourer is tasked with watching the weapons on set, regularly checking that they are only loaded when needed and with the right material, as well as ensuring that actors use them safely.

The incident sparked calls for real guns to be removed from Hollywood movie sets and be replaced by special effects.

The Santa Fe Sheriff's Office said it was seeking evidence including the weapon, Mr Baldwin's Old Western-style costume - which appeared to have blood stains - other prop guns and ammunition, as well as any footage that had been filmed.

It was still unclear whether the tragedy happened while cameras were rolling.

Detective Joel Cano said he "would like to confirm if the incident that took place was or wasn't recorded".

Detailing what happened he wrote: "As the assistant director handed the gun to the actor Alec Baldwin, [the assistant director] yelled 'cold gun', indicating the prop gun did not have any live rounds."

A distraught Mr Baldwin described how his “heart is broken” and there were “no words to convey his sadness”.

He has in the past been a public opponent of the National Rifle Association.

Alec Baldwin was said to be distraught about the incident - Santa Fe New Mexican
Alec Baldwin was said to be distraught about the incident - Santa Fe New Mexican

In a 911 emergency call, a woman said: "We were rehearsing, and it went off and I ran out. We all ran out. They were doubled over...the camerawoman and the director."

The woman added: "He’s supposed to check the guns, he’s responsible for what happens on the set."

It was not clear who she was referring to.

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