Directors Guild orders members off ‘Rust’ producer’s new movie

Two men in blue jackets stand on a red carpet.
Ryan Smith, left, and Allen Cheney, co-owners of Thomasville Pictures, attend an event in Nashville in 2019.
(Getty Images)

The Directors Guild of America has told its members to stop work on a new horror movie backed by one of the producers of “Rust,” Thomasville Pictures.

In a recent note to members, the union said it pulled its backing of the project, citing safety concerns. The decision in effect bars directors, assistant directors and unit production managers from working on the Georgia production.

“Representatives of the DGA informed the producers of specific safety requirements that needed to be satisfied for the film to be covered under a DGA agreement. The producers failed to meet those conditions,” the guild said in a statement.


Safety questions had been raised about another film involving two of the producers.

Oct. 28, 2021

The DGA did not specify the alleged safety issues on the film.

Thomasville Pictures, which registered in Georgia in 2017, disputed there were any safety issues on “Oak” and said production continues on the movie.

“On ‘Oak,’ we continue to work hand in hand with IATSE and SAG-AFTRA Safety Committees to ensure a safe working environment for all cast and crew,” Thomasville Pictures spokesman Stefan Friedman said in a statement. “We look forward to building on these local and national collaborations with all of our guild partners as we continue to produce films in Georgia and elsewhere around the country.”

The DGA’s move to distance its members from the production, which was first reported by the Hollywood Reporter, highlights ongoing safety concerns on film sets following the “Rust” shooting last fall.

Actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun on the New Mexico film set, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza. The fatal shooting came after a series of alleged safety breaches.

No criminal charges have been filed following the incident, which is being investigated by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office.

Thomasville Pictures has continued to work on other productions even as the New Mexico-based western was shut down.


Thomasville is also producing the Dustin Hoffman and Sissy Spacek feature “Sam & Kate.” The DGA is still a signatory on that feature — a status required for its members to be engaged on a project.

“Our team is proud to be working with SAG-AFTRA and IATSE on our two current projects in Thomasville and with DGA on ‘Sam and Kate,’” Friedman said.

Thomasville Pictures and other producers have been subject to several lawsuits, including a wrongful death claim from the family of Hutchins. That lawsuit alleged that Baldwin and other producers of the low-budget film sacrificed safety by hiring inexperienced workers and disregarding safety concerns flagged by the camera crew.

Producers of “Rust” have disputed the claims and said they were not made aware of official complaints about weapon safety on set.

Safety issues have been raised on other projects involving Ryan Smith and Allen Cheney, the co-owners of Thomasville Pictures.

In Georgia last year, first camera assistant Lisa Long raised safety concerns while filming the action thriller “One Way,” starring Machine Gun Kelly, Long said.

Long was bothered by what she saw as first assistant director Dave Halls’ disregard for safety protocols and reported his behavior to two producers and a Local 600 union representative of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, she said.

Halls was also a first assistant director on “Rust.” Halls told investigators that he did not check all the rounds in the gun before it was handed to Baldwin, a major breach of safety standards.

Halls’ attorney has said armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed was responsible for making sure the firearm was safe.