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‘Rust’ producers plan to complete the movie after sheriff’s investigation concludes

Buildings at the Bonanza Creek Ranch film set, near where a crew member was fatally shot during production of the western film "Rust," are seen on Oct. 28, 2021, in Santa Fe, NM. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

Several months after Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins while on the set of “Rust,” one of the film’s producers says he and others plan to forge ahead.

Rust Movie Productions is still being investigated by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office after the company was accused of cutting corners and flouting safety guidelines that led to the fatal misfiring of the gun on Oct. 21, 2021. Once the investigation concludes, however, co-producer Anjul Nigam believes the team will pick up where they left off with the film.

“We’re confident we’ll be able to complete the movie,” Nigam recently told the Hollywood Reporter. “‘Rust’ is obviously a horrific tragedy. The investigation will hopefully be resolved soon and will unveil what happened. Obviously, there will be people out there who will have negative perspectives, but we’re confident about continuing to make quality movies.”

Last month, the New Mexico Environment Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau hit “Rust” producers with a $136,793 fine for various safety violations, the largest it’s ever doled out against a production company. New Mexico Environment Cabinet Secretary James Kenney said managers “demonstrated plain indifference” to employee safety and claimed they knew gun safety protocol was not being followed yet refused to act.

“Our investigation found that this tragic incident never would have happened if Rust Movie Productions LLC had followed national film industry standards for firearm safety,” Kenney said in a statement last month. “This is a complete failure of the employer to follow recognized national protocols that keep employees safe.”

Rust Movie Productions disputed the accusations and contested the penalty in a May 10 filing, claiming it was not responsible for supervising the film set and that it addressed all alleged gun misfires.

“RMP disputes (the New Mexico Environment Department’s) citations and its summary of investigation because its bases for the citations are factually and legally inaccurate,” the company said. “The attempt to extend the application of a fire extinguisher regulation to a special effects device shows their misunderstanding of the film industry.”

Hutchins’ family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Alec Baldwin and other producers in February.

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was on the cusp of reaching a new level of recognition in a male-dominated field.

Last week, Baldwin and Nigam announced they had formed a new TV and film company in the wake of the incident, and that they would be selling their first project at the Cannes Film Festival, which begins Tuesday. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Baldwin will star in the psychological thriller “False Awakening,” and Nigam said he believed distributors will be “receptive” to the new film.

“I’m gonna go out there and sell (‘False Awakening’),” James Norrie of Amp International, which is selling worldwide rights to the movie at Cannes, told the Hollywood Reporter. “So far the reaction has been one of interest. I’ve not had anyone come back saying, ‘That’s a funny one.’ The general consensus seems to be that (what happened on ‘Rust’) was an awful accident.”

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