Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins Killed, Director Joel Souza Injured By Bullet On Alec Baldwin “Rust” Set

By | October 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

Here we see a bulleted cartridge, also called a LIVE ROUND. It is often called a bullet, but that (1) is only the projectile that is launched when the round is fired. It is held in the cartridge case (2) which is filled with gunpowder (3). When the firing pin or striker hits the primer (5) the powder ignites and burns rapidly, but does not explode. The resulting hot, expanding gas pushes the bullet out the muzzle at high speed. The rim (4) is grabbed by the extractor, pulling the spent cartridge from the chamber to make room for a fresh round.

If this were a BLANK CARTRIDGE, everything would be the same except there would be no bullet. The gunpowder would be held in by a cardboard or plastic wad. When the blank is fired, it would make a loud noise and a muzzle flash like a live round, but only gas and the wad would exit the muzzle. Of course, if someone were so careless as to press the muzzle against his head, as actor Jon-Erik Hexum did, the expanding gas would drive a piece of skull into his brain, killing him. Blanks are used extensively in films for their sound and visual effects.

If this were a DUMMY CARTRIDGE, there would be no primer or gunpowder. It would look like a live round but be inert. Dummy cartridges are used in films as props in a gun belt, or for actors to pretend to load in firearms. Brandon Lee, the son of Bruce Lee, was killed in a freak accident. A dummy round was loaded in a firearm, but the bullet was not tightly seated and slipped out into the barrel. The missing bullet was unnoticed when the firearm was unloaded, then loaded with blanks. When a blank was fired, the dislodged bullet was expelled from the muzzle and killed Brandon Lee.

It is possible that the same type of accident occurred on the set of “Rust,” although after the death of a well-known person like Brandon Lee, one would expect that great pains would be taken to avoid a recurrence. It is also possible that a live round was present on the set and mistaken for a dummy. This is an even more egregious error. No live round belongs anywhere near a film set.

We can hope that a thorough investigation will reveal what happened, so it will never happen again. Actors, stunt doubles, and film crews have hard enough jobs, and injuries will occur. But is it too much to expect that one can go to work on a movie set and not be shot to death?

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