How the entertainment industry changed after the fatal ‘Rust’ shooting

Even before the tragedy on the “Rust” movie set, actor and producer Mike Hatton had strong feelings about the use of blanks in filmmaking. 

“I don’t think they’re necessary,” said Hatton, who is also the husband of KCAL News reporter Kristine Lazar. “Aside from the obvious, which is, on a set, first and foremost safety, they cost a lot of money. And it’s just a necessary thing. We’ve saved money by cutting them.”

The actor was one of the leads in the Academy Award-winning movie “Green Book.” 

He’s also an independent movie producer who’s putting the final touches on his latest project at Gold Tree Films in West Hollywood. In this project, he used computer-generated muzzle flashes and shell casings to a scene that featured guns but shot without a single bullet.

“There are no blanks in those guns at all,” said Hatton. “That was all done in [Visual Effects]. All done in post-production.”

Hatton is one of the many in the movie industry who decided to make changes after the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during the filming of “Rust.” The 42-year-old’s death also prompted prop masters and armorers to change the training programs that many actors and producers undergo before going on set. 

“Six months after the ‘Rust’ tragedy, a lot of the armorers got together and we all agreed … to come up with a more in-depth training program,” said prop master and armorer Dutch Merrick. 

The group came up with an eight-hour workshop that’s available to union and non-union productions. 

“In Hollywood, what we’ve done safely for more than 130 years, is we’re able to choreograph, from simple gunfire to major gun battles… with blank fire in a safe manner,” Merrick said. 

Both Merrick and Hatton believe actors will be less inclined to handle guns now that actor Alec Baldwin will be facing charges related to the fatal shooting. 

“I do think the silver lining to this horrible, horrible tragedy is that sets will become safer for crews and for casts,” said Hatton. 

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