Mike Tristano has overseen firearms on film sets for over 30 years, keeping a close eye on the weapons used during the filming of The Purge, Harsh Times, and hundreds of other films.
When it comes to guns and ammo in groups, Tristano said, “responsibility always stops” with the gunsmith, the licensed professional — sometimes credited as a “guns expert” — tasked with making sure film firearms are safe and securely in place.
That’s why Tristano was baffled when he learned that Hana Gutierrez-Reed, 24, maker of Alec Baldwin’s ill-fated “Rust” project, said she had “no idea” how to place the live ammunition, according to her attorney.
“I think it’s a ridiculous statement,” Tristano said on Friday. “How can you not know what’s in your collection in terms of anything to do with the weapons you’re supposed to deal with?”
He added, “This is like a chef serving food and it’s like: I don’t know where this food came from.”
New Mexico law enforcement officials are still investigating what exactly led to the fatal shooting of Halina Hutchins, the cinematographer for the movie. No charges have been brought, and others working on the film – including producers and an assistant director – have come under scrutiny.
But in the midst of this investigation, the armor makers and stanchion professors who spoke to NBC News said, in general, that the gunsmith should be fully familiar with the weapons and ammunition in the kit.
“The gunsmith is responsible for all firearms and empty ammunition on the set, and guns should always be under the heavy guard of that person,” said Larry Zanov, a gunsmith who has worked on “Django Unchained” and several Marvels. Films.
“If there is an actual gunsmith on the set…they are responsible for all aspects,” Zanov added. “They are the crew members ultimately responsible.”
A statement from her lawyer said Gutierrez Reid was “completely devastated as she stands by herself completely because of the events that occurred.”
“Safety is Hana’s number one priority,” a statement from her attorney said. “Ultimately, this group would not have been compromised if live ammunition had not been provided. Hannah has no idea where the live rounds came from.”
The armor makers and prop masters who shared their point of view in interviews can’t skewly speculate what happened, and none of them have first-hand knowledge of the safety conditions in the “Rust” group.
But for Kevin Williams, tool shop supervisor at UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film and Television, the fact remains that the gunsmith needs to act as a “check and balance to ensure the safety of gun firing.”
“At the end of the day, it’s her responsibility to maintain control of those guns and figure out what’s going on,” Williams said.
Court documents relating to the search warrant say Assistant Director David Holz shouted “cold gun,” indicating no live ammunition, as he handed the firearm to Baldwin before the shooting.
Holes told authorities he should have checked the gun more carefully after noticing a difference in ammunition rounds, according to a search warrant.
He did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Thursday.
Tristano, a veteran gunsmith known for his work on horror flicks, said that on most sets, no assistant director—or anyone else, for that matter—would pass a gun to an actor.
“No one touches the gun but the gunsmith, and then the actors and actresses of course. The gun was only handed to them by the gunsmith,” Tristano said. “I have never allowed an assistant director to hand a gun to an actor in over 30 years in the business.”
Gutierrez Reed’s attorneys, Jason Bowles and Robert Gornes, said the guns were withheld at night and during lunch, and that the gunsmith sought more training for the film.
“Hana was assigned two jobs on this film, which made it extremely difficult to focus on her job as a weapons manufacturer,” the statement said.
“I fought for training, days to maintain weapons and time to prepare to shoot, but in the end it was negated by the production and production department. The entire production batch became unsafe due to various factors, including the lack of safety meetings.”
But sources within the production told NBC News Friday that it is common for a gun manufacturer, such as Gutierrez-Reed, to have separate responsibilities within the support team.
Production sources said that in the case of Gutierrez-Reid in “Rust,” she only worked two days on props and never had dual prop-and-arms responsibilities on the same day.
In a podcast interview last month, Gutierrez-Reed said guns are “not really a problem unless they are put in the wrong hands.”
she said in Western Voices Audio notation.
“A lot of that, to me, is just being able to show the world, you know, guns are great.”
In the podcast, she said her father, a photography expert and film industry consultant, said: Thiel RedShe started teaching her about guns and gun safety when she was sixteen years old. But she admitted that she is still learning the ropes.
“I think loading blanks is the scariest thing to me, because I was, like, ‘Oh, I don’t know anything about it,'” she said.