More information is coming out about the past behavior of “Rust” assistant director Dave Halls, who two years ago was fired from the film “Freedom’s Path” after failing to follow gun safety protocols.
According to crew members who worked with Halls and spoke to Rolling Stone, Halls declined to provide 74-year-old actress Carol Sutton with a crash pad for a scene that involved her character falling to her knees upon discovering the death of another character. When she filmed the scene, she fell awkwardly and was injured.
“I remember turning to Dave, and I was like, ‘Dave, should we get her a crash pad? We should get her a crash pad,’” assistant camera operator Quinton Rodriguez said. “He was like, ‘No, she’s not going to fall all the way.’ So we had like a furniture pad instead. And she ended up fully falling over and injuring herself. A furniture pad is not a pad that you would want to fall on. You should have a crash pad. We had stunts on set. It would have taken 60 seconds.”
Rodriguez also says that Halls did not help a crew member who fell down in a shot when trying to pick up a coat that had fallen in front of a camera and couldn’t get up. Though it is the first assistant director’s responsibility to maintain safety on set, Rodriguez says that he had to call ‘cut’ himself while his fellow operator had to help the crew member up.
Rodriguez also shared more information about the incident that finally led to Halls’ firing from “Freedom’s Path,” which was first reported by CNN. The operator said that the scene involved Civil War-era firearms loaded with enough gunpowder to make a visible blast when fired. It was Halls’ responsibility to ensure that the guns were completely empty when filming closeup scenes.
“We started out in a wide shot, and we ended up doing it a couple times, and then we had to cut in the middle of the take, before the gun would have been fired in the shot,” he said. “Then we moved into the close-up on the shot, and the gun obviously had not been cleared to become a ‘cold’ weapon. We went in for the take, and to literally everybody’s surprise, all eight people within a 10-foot range, the gun ended up firing right in our boom operator’s face.”
While the boom operator was not seriously injured, Rodriguez said he “threw his headphones off to the ground, dropped the boom mic and essentially ran from the set.” Halls was fired from the production that day.
“A lot of his mentality was just, ‘Get the shot. And get the shot on time.’ He seemed willing to cut whatever corners were necessary to make that happen,” Rodriguez said.
Halls is now facing public scrutiny after “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was accidentally killed by a firearm being used by actor and producer Alec Baldwin. In a search warrant affadavit filed by Santa Fe law enforcement, Halls said he did not check all the rounds in the gun before it was handed to Baldwin.
The Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department says that it is suspected to have been a live round that killed Hutchins and that they are analyzing ammunition taken from the set to confirm that live ammo was kept on set along with blanks and dummy rounds. Halls did not respond to requests for comment.